Working in (and Owning) a Sex Store

Working in (and Owning) a Sex Store

- Kira - - Kira -
I know a few of you guys work in sex shops. I have some questions for you, if you don't mind!

Has that been a good experience for you? What do you like the most about it? What don't you like? What are your primary duties through the day?

If you have anything to do with operations, is the store you work for profitable? Do the owners make a good living running the store? How often are they visible? Do you, as an employee, wish they were there more or less?

What would you improve about your store if you could?

I'm asking because it has always been a dream of mine to open my own store. I've been in sales my whole life, some retail sales and now in financial sales. I've become frustrated with my job for some reasons and am thinking that this frustration may mean it's time for me to seize the opportunity to peruse an almost life long dream of mine (and my husband's). The startup costs are high and so many business fail so quickly that it is, like many things in life, a huge risk. We have a family to support and I'd hate to jump into anything that could leave our family in a bad situation. On the flip side, I'd hate to continue working job to job in an industry I'm not as passionate about as I could be.

Any help appreciated from those who work in the industry!!

Also, owners of small business but particularly small retail businesses feel free to chime in with any advice you may have! I've been self employed as a party of one before, but never with a building and employees to manage. That's a whole new ballpark for me. I'm good with people, organization, business management, finances, and all that good stuff, but I'd love to hear from those who are successful in their fields.


For those that don't work in either field but happen to be in this discussion and want to contribute - if you could design the ideal shop that you would love to visit - what would it look like? What would it carry (type of products, brands, etc.). What could the store do to make sure you as a customer kept coming back over and over?

Thanks, guys! You are all wonderful, as always!
01/19/2012
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Jul!a Jul!a
Off the top of my head I would say as wide of a variety of products as you can to start off with, and then narrow it down based on what sells and what doesn't. Definitely make sure to stock plus size lingerie as well as the non plus size. And as much as it may pain others to hear me say it, go ahead and stock some jelly toys. They're not all oozing dripping puddles of stink, and while they do all have a generally low safety rating, some people don't care and should be able to decide for themselves. You could also host safe sex workshops and stuff and talk about material safety as well.
01/19/2012
Ansley Ansley
Don't quit your day job just yet. My biggest advice to you is to create an online presence first before you try moving into a brick and mortar situation. Aside from the financial aspect, you also have to consider how the community is going to react. There are permits and licensure issues involved and limitations on the types of products you can carry.

Consulting a business lawyer should be your very first move.
01/19/2012
- Kira - - Kira -
Sam - If I stock them and then try to talk people out of buying them, is that a bad business move? LOL I'd feel silly paying for merchandise that I'd try my best not to sell, but I get that you can't make decisions for people either. I love the idea of workshops.

Stormy - Unfortunately, I'd have to quit my job to do it even if it was just an online set up. I have a job that requires federal regulation and we are not allowed any second jobs or even some club memberships without per-clearance. I've never seen them clear anything other than home owner's associations and things like that. I'm thinking "sex shop owner" won't go over somehow. The area I live in has some small shops already and one large shop in the downtown area (which is a pain to get to for most everyone). There's only one area that puts up a stink for zoning. Everywhere else has strip clubs and bars all over, so I'm thinking so long as I don't open right in public view on a main highway (as my brilliant husband suggested...) there should be only light mumbles from the church-y set. When the last store opened there were some grumbles from that group and the majority of the city said "yeah, whatever." The shops here just have such limited offerings is the problem. You have to go to the downtown one to get anything decent and the traffic and parking is terrible. There are certain times of year that you literally cannot get to it. So accessibility and product selection are what I'm going for, basically.

Business lawyer will be called in! My CPA will be getting a call too. I'm sure she'll be thrilled with me asking her to do accounting for this. HA.
01/19/2012
Ansley Ansley
Quote:
Originally posted by - Kira -
Sam - If I stock them and then try to talk people out of buying them, is that a bad business move? LOL I'd feel silly paying for merchandise that I'd try my best not to sell, but I get that you can't make decisions for people either. I ...
Wow, that's a really huge gamble. So you can't even host sex toy parties?

I hope you get the chance to fulfill your dream, that would be so awesome. It's going to be a lot of hard work! Hey maybe you can poke around with some of the Doc Johnson people and get some information. It's a family business.
01/19/2012
- Kira - - Kira -
Quote:
Originally posted by Ansley
Wow, that's a really huge gamble. So you can't even host sex toy parties?

I hope you get the chance to fulfill your dream, that would be so awesome. It's going to be a lot of hard work! Hey maybe you can poke around with some of ...
Yeah, it is. That's why I have never done it. It's a huge amount of money and I can't do it part time as a "let's see how it goes" thing before sinking my whole future into it. No toy parties either! My line of work is really strict on second jobs and income.

It would be awesome! It would be so nice to get up in the morning and work in a fun industry PLUS be my own boss. What a lovely set of things. I'll have to do that. Good idea!
01/19/2012
Ansley Ansley
Quote:
Originally posted by - Kira -
Yeah, it is. That's why I have never done it. It's a huge amount of money and I can't do it part time as a "let's see how it goes" thing before sinking my whole future into it. No toy parties either! My line of work is ...
What if it was all on your husband's shoulders to begin with and then you transferred titles and licensure to you when the business turns a profit (which as you know, most don't in the first five years and even then it can take up to ten years to build a steady clientele)?
01/19/2012
- Kira - - Kira -
Quote:
Originally posted by Ansley
What if it was all on your husband's shoulders to begin with and then you transferred titles and licensure to you when the business turns a profit (which as you know, most don't in the first five years and even then it can take up to ten ...
He can have another job on paper, which I can't. But he is basically the lead person at his job so they shut down if he isn't there. Plus he has zero business experience. So if anyone does anything, it has to be me. He seems to think he'd be able to run a business, but he has no people or selling skills. He'd run it in the ground in a few months. LOL I love him, but he's best at his line of work. At least one of us would need to quit our day job, I'm thinking. Since I have the business experience (and the sex toy knowledge on top of it), it would make more sense for me to run it. The hours required to start a business are pretty long. It would be near impossible for him to do that and maintain his current job. At least, not unless I'm trying to drive him to nervous breakdown.
01/19/2012
Ansley Ansley
Quote:
Originally posted by - Kira -
He can have another job on paper, which I can't. But he is basically the lead person at his job so they shut down if he isn't there. Plus he has zero business experience. So if anyone does anything, it has to be me. He seems to think ...
Rock meet hard place! Sheesh! Well, I admire your determination and seems like you've thought about or at least have most of the potential roadblocks in view. I thought about opening my own store once. All of the stores here are mostly fronts for headshops and jerk-off booths. There isn't anything upscale or female-friendly in the area. I just don't think I'd enjoy it much once I got it off the ground. Anyway, I wish you all of the luck in the world and if I knew anyone in your area, I'd tell them to stop by every chance they could!
01/19/2012
Jul!a Jul!a
Quote:
Originally posted by - Kira -
Sam - If I stock them and then try to talk people out of buying them, is that a bad business move? LOL I'd feel silly paying for merchandise that I'd try my best not to sell, but I get that you can't make decisions for people either. I ...
Haha, it's not that bad of a thing. I wouldn't have a huge selection of jelly toys, but I would hate to lose the business of people that do want jelly toys by not carrying them. And again, there are varying levels of "bad" with them, so you can pick some relatively decent ones to stock. But if they don't sell (because you're busy wowing people with your awesome workshops and advice), then you can stop carrying them!

It does sound like you've got quite a bit of a conundrum here though (I read the rest of the posts before responding to this one). I know you said it wouldn't be possible for your husband to just start it, but would it be possible for everything to be in his name and you both put in the time to get it off the ground? Although you'd still probably have to quit your day job to be able to have that be totally feasible, and at that point you might as well just put it all in your name. Hmmm. Rock and a hard place indeed!
01/19/2012
- Kira - - Kira -
Quote:
Originally posted by Ansley
Rock meet hard place! Sheesh! Well, I admire your determination and seems like you've thought about or at least have most of the potential roadblocks in view. I thought about opening my own store once. All of the stores here are mostly fronts for ...
I know, right? *head desk* I didn't know they had the jerk-off booths any more. Ick... A few cities away from us they have the headshops that pretend to be sex shops. They stock all of four dildos and two vibrators, cheap quality. Sorry that's all you have. Maybe I should move over by you and open one up over there? LOL Thanks!!
01/19/2012
- Kira - - Kira -
Quote:
Originally posted by Jul!a
Haha, it's not that bad of a thing. I wouldn't have a huge selection of jelly toys, but I would hate to lose the business of people that do want jelly toys by not carrying them. And again, there are varying levels of "bad" with ...
Yeah, I'm thinking maybe just a select few and then picking the best of the jelly option. I'd test them myself, but I have really terrible reaction to almost all jelly material. Good thing for reviews! Even if they don't sell all that much, I guess I could still stock one or two for the really stubborn folks.

That would be possible, but I would be risking my job by doing it that way. If they found out I was working on the side for my husband's business (even without pay), they would fire me and I believe I could be fined heavily for it. So probably not worth it. X.x
01/19/2012
GONE! GONE!
Ummm as someone who used to live within walking distance of one... I recommend carrying different sizes for each kind. The one near me only carried really giant stuff and I could never find a darn thing there to fit me.
01/20/2012
Dear Ruby Dear Ruby
I also have lived behind a sex shop, lol.

It might be hard for you to do without attaching your name to anything, but it really bears looking into the permits and allowances where you live. Ask the Chamber of Commerce for their needs assessment, and see if anything like that has been proposed in the last 3-5 years... We had a sex shop try to open up in an upscale neighborhood, and it was voted down for years and years (all while the poor guy was holding the land and paying taxes - unfair imo) and it's only open now with strict provisions about how they can display things, what kind of sign they can have, etc.
01/20/2012
- Kira - - Kira -
Quote:
Originally posted by GONE!
Ummm as someone who used to live within walking distance of one... I recommend carrying different sizes for each kind. The one near me only carried really giant stuff and I could never find a darn thing there to fit me.
Different sizes? Like, dildos or lingerie? Sorry, It's early and I'm being slow!
01/20/2012
- Kira - - Kira -
Quote:
Originally posted by Dear Ruby
I also have lived behind a sex shop, lol.

It might be hard for you to do without attaching your name to anything, but it really bears looking into the permits and allowances where you live. Ask the Chamber of Commerce for their needs ...
That I think I can at least get my husband to do! That's a great idea!
01/20/2012
Total posts: 16
Unique posters: 5