Do's and Don'ts in Romantic Retailing

Romance may be enjoying a comeback in porn, as you’ll read about in AVN’s October cover story, but pleasure product retailers have been courting couples and women with a kinder, gentler approach for years. That’s the topic of the October Foreplay column. And because I have been told that I need to learn how to delegate, I have decided to delegate my monthly writing duties to these very capable professionals. Check out these romantic retailing do’s and don’ts that have proven successful for these savvy sellers. — Tony Lovett


Lisa Mazurek of Entrenue

DO think beauty, first. Beauty in any form resonates with people.

DO go simple with your displays. And when you think you’ve gone simple, take something else away.

DO pay attention to the ambiance and choose items that delight the senses: scent (good candles, etc), touch, sound (contemporary romantic music), sight (clean, beautifully organized spaces).

DO keep in mind that “romance” has a broader meaning today. It comes from an empowered place, where people who communicate with one another are more direct, knowledgeable and playful.

DON’T kid yourself: Incense is NOT romantic.

DON’T cling to what you think romantic is; be willing to reinvestigate your definition (or your customers’). Ask them.


Sarah Tomchesson of The Pleasure Chest

DO remember that the most important thing for creating a romantic atmosphere is educating your staff on the common questions and concerns that couples come in with.

DO carry a selection of the female-friendly product lines with packaging that has couples in mind in its design.

DO merchandise your store in a way that is inviting and comfortable.

DON’T have naked women all over your packaging.

DON’T think that there is one right way to become more couples-friendly or more “romantic.” If romance is important to your business, then you’ve got to think about what in your store may be intimidating or alienating, and either eliminate or cut back on those elements.


Nikki Mier of Fairvilla Megastores

DO take down the neon, light up those dark corners, take out the booths, come out of that crow’s nest register, turn off the blinking XXX, put out your cigarettes, and repaint those yellow walls ... that’s barely the beginning for romance, but these are essential changes to make!

DON’T forget to talk to your customers! They are the people who have the wallets filled with green stuff, so get out there and ask them what they want!

DON’T underestimate the knowledge you gain from the personal experiences and stories of the people walking in your front door.

DON’T try to become romantic just because someone has told you it’s the next best thing in sex stores since gonzo! Like any best business practices, you need to determine what is best for your business—based on your customers, community and who you want be!

This article originally ran in the October 2010 issue of AVN.