SHARONVILLE, Ohio — Despite a continuing family feud between Hustler founder Larry Flynt and brother Jimmy Flynt over the use of the “Flynt” surname for sex toy and novelty stores, Jimmy Flynt Sexy Gifts continues to find a slice of the retail consumer market.
Like most powerful family dynasties, the two Flynt brothers have made their mark like no others — pioneering adult magazines, films, novelties, retail stores, casinos, gentlemen’s clubs and more.
And also true of such industry royalty, the successes usually don’t come without some family discord.
Earlier this month, a federal judge signed off on an order that restricts Jimmy Flynt from emulating signs and marketing materials that appear as Larry Flynt’s LFP Inc. properties, as well as forcing him to place disclaimers on all advertising.
Jimmy Flynt had been operating stores and a website under the banner “Flynt Sexy Gifts,” sans the “Jimmy.” The permanent injunction enjoined Jimmy Flynt from using the family name for any adult entertainment products or services unless it is accompanied by his first name in the same font size, color and style and on the same background color.
The restraining order was reminiscent of a 2008 lawsuit waged by LFP Inc. that accused Larry Flynt’s nephews — Jimmy II Flynt and Dustin Flynt — from using their fame to sell products under the now-defunct Flynt Media Corp. banner. In that case, a federal judge sided with their uncle, Larry Flynt.
Operating in the Cincinnati suburb of Sharonville, Jimmy Flynt Sexy Gifts’ second store is run by Dustin Flynt, who is now navigating (and capitalizing on) a local stir with a morality group over an “End boring sex” billboard erected off a local highway.
XBIZ felt it was the right time to ask Dustin Flynt to weigh in the controversies, as well as how Jimmy Flynt Sexy Gifts is performing in the ever-growing novelty and pleasure products segment.
XBIZ: If you ultimately can’t use the Flynt surname, how will you adjust in marketing terms?
FLYNT: We believe in building a strong brand and it will take time and lots of work. The Jimmy Flynt Sexy Gifts brand is new but there is plenty of experience in brand building behind it.
XBIZ: What do you make over the recent flap with your Cincinnati store and the opposition by Burress’s Citizens for Community Values (CCV)?
FLYNT: I could not be happier about it. I think it completely exposed a person with dated ideologies.
In some ways you kind of have to feel for Burress and his types they are like an outdated White Power movement in the days of racial equality. They look absurd and prehistoric; the people in this country are in the midst of refusing fundamentalists like this from having an influential voice.
XBIZ: The continued legal battle over use of the Flynt surname notwithstanding, how have your stores been performing?
FLYNT: Jimmy Flynt Sexy Gifts is now becoming a rooted brand in the areas where we have our stores and the success indicates the return of a strong economy, and that we as a society are finally turning the corner to embrace the importance of equality and need for a healthy, happy sex life.
XBIZ: Has the pleasure products market grown substantially in Middle America?
FLYNT: It absolutely has and I believe as we move forward, sexual aids will become even more important in relationships as the stigmas associated with sex continue to be accepted as a positive thing — not negative.
XBIZ: Which store in which areas do best? And why?
FLYNT: I definitely think the middle America states do the best because the culture as a whole in those regions have been suppressed for so long and the excitement of being sexually liberated is a new feeling for them. Our stores provide a very non-threatening contemporary environment for those just taking their first steps to sexual exploration. Our stores spark curiosity without the dirty feeling some might associate with a dated establishment.
XBIZ: Are you planning on expansion? If so, where?
FLYNT: Expansion is always something we look at. Our locations are determined by our team collectively, thinking about whether it's a good fit for our young brand. As far as the next location, we have not made a decision but look forward to sharing with you when we do.
XBIZ: How has the retail landscape changed in the last few years?
FLYNT: The whole landscape has changed with mobile devices and the unparalleled access we have to content. This is hardly the business it was a decade ago in the way people get content, buy products, and even do business.
XBIZ: What’s your current role? Will it expand?
FLYNT: I’ve been doing this for a long time and my role is always expanding. I care about people and customers and will do what ever I can to make sure the customer experience is something that brings them back to our store.
XBIZ: What products are you most excited to carry?
FLYNT: We like to carry what is exciting to the customer. We are in the business of selling better sex. We carry WeVibe, Fun Factory, Doc Johnson, and CalExotics in no specific order. We keep current with what is hot in the market by reading XBIZ. We offer couples' products that make our clients happy.
XBIZ: What in your estimation is the future of retail?
FLYNT: The experience is important, it's about interacting with consumers, brick and mortar provides a real life interactive, stimulating experience and atmosphere that is real. Sex sells — providing a knowledgeable staff with quality product, we sell a fantasy in a sexy, fun atmosphere. It's hard to say what with the speed in which things are changing.