PHOENIX — Castle Megastore hosted its annual vendor expo event last week, culminating in a superstition-themed party in honor of Friday the 13th and awards show honoring the retailer’s staff, vendors and industry media outlets.
Castle Megastore CEO Mark Franks told XBIZ that the event has been held since he took over the retailer chain 11 years ago.
“It’s evolved,” he said. “It started as just a party and evolved to include exhibitors — it turned into a very professional event.”
According to Franks, up to 100 Castle Megastore managers and staff attended the event.
The day-time vendor expo featured booths by participating brands: Blush Novelties, Bushman Products, California Exotic Novelties, Doc Johnson, DreamGirl, Electric Lingerie, Evolved, Fun Factory, Goldreallas, Hott Products, Jimmyjane, Lelo, MD Science Lab, Megasol, Novelties by Nasswalk, NS Novelties, One Up, Paradise Marketing, Pipedream Products, Pjur, Rene Rofe, Seven til Midnight, System Jo, Topco, Wicked, XGEN Products and XR Brands.
In addition to recognizing Castle Megastore staff for “best representing [Castle Megastore’s] core values,” the awards ceremony also honored adult industry trade publications.
“This year we gave awards to AVN, StorErotica and XBIZ for their service and leadership in our industry,” Franks said. “We felt it was appropriate to honor the publications that do so much for the industry. Each organization is unique and contributes to the industry in a different way; they all bring us together as a community.”
Castle Megastore managers and adult industry vendors danced the night away after a day of hands-on product trainings. The dinner party and annual Castle awards ceremony featured celebrity impersonators and a dress-up photo booth.
Kathryn Hartman, sales and marketing director of Nasstoys, told XBIZ there a Strawberry Full Moon over Phoenix Marriott Tempe at The Buttes, where the event was held.
“A great time was had by all at the beautiful Marriot Buttes Resort in Tempe, Ariz., and some of us even went out to marvel at the beautifully renovated retail locations the next day,” Hartman said.
“Mark Franks has transformed the Castle chain of stores into a retail kingdom that is clearly the result of dedication and great leadership,” Nasstoys President Elliot Schwartz said.
Susan Colvin, President and CEO of California Exotic Novelties, says, “Thank you so much to Mark Franks and our friends at Castle for the Megaward. We’re honored to receive it and consider it a testament to our wonderful partnership!”
Al Bloom attended the Expo and the Awards Ceremony and accepted the award for California Exotic Novelties. He says, “The Friday the 13th-themed party was wonderful as it always is. Castle always puts on a spectacular event. Thank you Mark Franks, and the entire Castle team!”
“As always, Castle Megastore threw a stellar event,” said Leslie Shwartzer, NS Novelties sales representative. “The turn-out was impressive and the attendees were enthusiastic. We were honored to be included.”
Paradise Marketing CEO Dennis Paradise said, “This was a really great event. Getting to spend time with the entire Castle team, especially to introduce them to the new Astroglide Diamond Gel was a special opportunity. The whole experience was so well managed and done with both purpose and poise, that it was a first class event from a first class company. Kudos to Mark Franks and the Castle team.”
"This year’s Castle Megastore event was bigger and better than ever,” said Kristen Denton, account manager for Doc Johnson. “Doc Johnson was honored to be a part of this amazing event. Castle Megastore's staff received invaluable training on our bestselling collections such Vac-U-Lock, James Deen Black & Blue, American Bombshell and MOOD."
Dreamgirl CEO Christopher Scharff said, “The Castle Megastore event was the perfect opportunity to give product knowledge information and selling information to the professional Castle Managers, assistant managers and sales associates. The event was extremely successful from the standpoint of vendor and sales associate participation.”
“It’s always enjoyable going to the Castle event and having the opportunity to spend time with managers and salespeople that we don’t normally get a chance to see,” XGEN Products President Andy Green said. “It’s a great opportunity for me to show them the new products and train them so that they can take back that knowledge to the stores and their staff.”
Hott Products' Chris Post said, “Our recent experience at the Castle Megastore event was both informative and exciting due to the fact that we were able to connect one on one with the store staff and find out what's going on out there with the buying public. Incidentally we also created a buzz for some of our newer unique lines which many staffers were unaware of so it was really a win-win for all.”