As the pleasure products industry continues to grow worldwide, Canada has made a name for itself as the birthplace of famous brands such as We-Vibe and the notorious PowerBullet by BMS Factory.
The Canadian marketplace is also ripe for business for retailers, and five years ago, distributor EP Products Canada came on the scene to invigorate this vast retail landscape.
As president and director of sales, I drive the sales and buying and keep everyone optimistic and driven to do the best job.
Carrying a wide range of sex toys and lingerie, EP Products Canada caters to retail stores and home party companies in Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia and other provinces of the U.S.’ neighbor to the north.
“We value our customers and encourage them to ask questions,” EP Products Canada’s President and director of sales Don Wilson told XBIZ. “We listen and keep the lines of communication open. We want the retailer to have all the support and tools so that they can cultivate positive experiences with their customer; then, the customer can make an informed buying decision.”
Based in Port Coquitlam (a suburb of Vancouver), EP Products Canada was founded in 2013 by Wilson, along with Rob Gilchrist, vice president and financial planner; and Verna Gilchrist, administrator. EP Products continues to operate with a lean-and-mean mentality — which means that every member of the staff wearing two hats, Wilson says.
“As president and director of sales, I drive the sales and buying and keep everyone optimistic and driven to do the best job,” he said. “Rob Gilchrist is always reminding us of the return on investment. Verna Gilchrist, administrator, keeps the office running smoothly.”
Other important players at EP Products Canada include assistant buyer Angie Gilchrist, and sales representative Laskamaria.
In addition to her work with EP Products Canada, Laskamaria offers sex toy parties and sex education seminars in the Vancouver area via her website SexEdWithATwist.com and also through her company Laskamaria Entertainment (the word “laska” means “love” in the Slovak language).
Wilson acknowledges the strong support of his team, praising Gilchrist for being “creative, efficient, dedicated and ready to help where it is needed.”
Laskamaria, Wilson notes, “works closely with the stores, keeping the lines of communication open. We have a great support staff — and all play important roles in our success, working together as a team.”
Since the company’s launch, Wilson says he’s watched the demand for pleasure products skyrocket in Canada. Today, EP Products Canada’s inventory consists of tried-and-true, retail-friendly brands such as Vibratex, CalExotics, Nasstoys, b-Vibe, Kheper Games and Pipedream Products.
With so many pleasure products to choose from, Canadian shoppers are becoming savvier about their wants and needs. These quality-conscious and health-minded consumers are looking for brands that reflect their expectations, Wilson said.
“The adult pleasure market is changing and has grown,” Wilson observed. “It is no longer taboo, and consumers are not just looking for cheap lubes or toys — they are interested in sexual health awareness. Interest in lubes and toys that are body-safe are rising in popularity, for sure.”
British author E.L. James’ series of BDSM-themed “Fifty Shades of Grey” novels and the films they inspired have been phenomenally popular in many parts of the world, and Canada is no exception. According to Wilson, the novel and movie series has been great for retailers selling sex toys in Canada — and more Canadian consumers have been exploring BDSM play.
“’Fifty Shades of Grey’ has really helped the BDSM market,” Wilson asserted. “Media attention does tend to drive new interests. Consumers are venturing into new territory, and sales on a diversity of products are growing.”
U.S., European and Australian manufacturers that want to increase their reach in Canada, Wilson advised, need to work with businesses that understand the Canadian market well and have extensive knowledge of the country’s rules and regulations.
“Manufacturers sometimes overlook Canadian distributors,” Wilson noted. “We bring a wealth of knowledge that we can share with them for bringing products into Canada, government contacts, government guidelines, labelling, what packaging sells, and what customers are looking for. We can save them thousands of dollars. Manufacturers just need to be aware that what sells in the east (of Canada) might not sell in the west (of Canada).”
Geographically, Canada is huge. The distance from Halifax, Nova Scotia in Canada’s far east to Vancouver in Western Canada, for example, is more than 2,700 miles. EP Products Canada, Wilson said, is happy to advise U.S. or European manufacturers on the diversity of the Canadian market and its regional differences.
“The differences regionally are driven mostly by social and education factors,” Wilson stressed. “What sells in one area doesn’t mean it will do well in another area. I think most manufacturers are aware of this, and as a distributor, we work with our suppliers/manufacturers to let them know what works in what areas. We can share our knowledge with them.”