As per WhiteLightning’s request, I figured I would start this thread.
Background: I work for a company that owns a chain of adult bookstores across the United States. I started out working in one of the stores (ended up managing it, in fact) then moved into the main office, where I’ve been for the last seven years. My current job entails making sure the stores are stocked with toys.
Don’t ask me about porn stars unless they have a line of toys out - I haven’t dealt with the video end of things in about seven years.
So - tell us about toys. What size of a market are we talking? What are the best sellers? Do branded dildoes sell better than generics (so, is a synthetic schlong with a porn-star’s name on it going to be a bigger seller)? Do more guys or gals buy dildos & vibrators? How many artificial vaginas sell?
(And, out of curiosity, is the Accomodator a big seller? My friends got a huge laugh out of that one when we saw it.)
What percentage of purchases would you guess are destined to be gag gifts? Personally about half of my purchases at adult toy stores have been for gag gifts (The Humongous Butt Plug ™ comes to mind, damn that thing would make cattle flinch)
Also, during your store days did you ever have problems with people trying before buying or other such gross stuff?
A porn star’s name on a dildo pretty much just increases the price. They don’t really sell any better than a “generic” dong, just because of the proce difference.
Dildoes and vibrators - it’s about equal between girls & guys. The chain I work for features very clean and well-lit stores, to encourage more women to come in, rather than sending their husband in to buy the toy for them. (As an aside, even though I am female, I would sometimes have guys come into the store I worked, ask a question or two about a vibe, run out to the car to relate the info to their SO, and repeat the process through to a purchase. I always had a hard time keeping a straight face while conducting those kinds of transactions…)
Lots and lots of artificial vaginas sell - the most popular are the ones modelled after a porn star, especially the “realistic” molded ones. Yes, they actually make a plaster cast of the star’s vagina.
The Accomodator doesn’t sell all that well anymore, though some of my stores carry it. The product is pretty old - it’s been out for almost ten years or so. More popular are cockrings with vibrators attached, for (depending on how it’s worn) either direct testicular
vibration or clitoral stimulation.
Market size - my chain has about 65 stores from Connecticut to California, of varying sizes.
Is it a fun office to work in, or is it just a roomful of office drones?
Do you have to go to HR training sessions on sexual harassment, avoidance thereof, and, if so, for god’s sake, what do they say? I mean, most places, if you stood up and yelled out, “Dildos! I need dildos!”, that could get you in some hot water.
Might make for some fun team-building exercises, though…
Gag gifts. Sure that humongous butt plug is a gag gift… Plenty of people come in purchasing stuff for bachelor/bachelorette parties, but when a guy would bring up a $200 vagina or doll, looking terribly embarrassed, and inform me that it’s for a gag gift…it wasn’t terribly believable… especially when there are $30 dolls available. The really sad part is that I would remember the guy claiming something was for a gag gift - when I would seriously doubt it, as there would be a version of said “gag” item for much, much less available, where I wouldn’t remember the guy who just purchased the item without any story. Now
I’m not saying you’re not really getting a gag gift, but…
On occasion I would have someone try to return a used item, (barf smiley here) but we accepted no returns (obviously!) and instructed people to take it up with the manufacturer. We always double check any battery-operated toys before they leave the store, anyhow… This simply entails popping a couple of really cheap batteries into the item and seeing if the item vibrates
We’re mostly office drones. Lots of grandmothers and moms work in the office, in fact. The lady I share an office with and myself are the only ones (for the most part) in the office that regularly deal with adult stuff - everyone else is pretty much an accountant. Thankfully, we haven’t had any team building exercises…
Oh, and another thing about the so-called "gag items - like a “humongous” butt plug. I regret to inform you, but although TheFunkySpaceCowboy might be buying one as a gag gift - um, people really do use them. That’s all I’ll say about that.
The biggest dildo we carry? Hmmm. ~looks over her catalogs~
Looks like around 18" long is the longest…as far as overall biggest, um, I guess the dildo is maybe 4 1/2" wide? It’s very, very, very large. Maybe the girth of an average man’s (unflexed) bicep perhaps…
Vevila, my honey and I have a vac-u-lock harness and we want something that isn’t the thickness of my wrist to use with it. We have the “standard” 7" attachment already, and we want something just a little less thick - the length is fine, we could even go longer if we had to.
Is there anything you’re familiar with that has what we’re looking for?
In Texas it is not possible to buy a ‘realistic’ looking dildo, so we have had to settle on a generic looking gel thing. Is there any recourse for people here who want to buy these products? Can I even order them online and have them shipped here?
Oh, and uh… this is uh… a gag gift. Yeah. For my… wife. Urr…
Doc Johnson (the maker of your vac-u-loc system) does make a couple of “thin” dildoes as attachements. There is a 7 1/2" thin dildo both with and without balls. Um, you can Google the Doc Johnson website. When I’m back at work tomorrow I can look up some other systems (besides your vac-u-loc) to recommend - I know there are some systems that have been specifically designed for women.
The difference between a dildo and a vibrator: A dildo is anything that looks like a penis (it can vibrate or not) and a vibrator is, well, anything wlse that isn’t shaped like a penis.
The largest manufacturer is Doc Johnson I believe. We get notified about new products from the manufacturers - they send out fliers and sometimes samples. As far as I can tell, the internet hasn’t really affected our business at all, my company also runs a site where you can buy toys.
Never picked up a customer of either sex. Had plenty try to pick me up, though.