AVN.COM RETAILING PROFILE - Everything Old Is New Again: Keeping Vintage in Stock

One of the many joys of DVD is the fact that those slim plastic cases enable adult retailers to stock and display more product on their shelves than the bulky VHS boxes of old allowed.

While the temptation may be strong to just nurture your new release shelves, the power of stocking and re-stocking top-selling catalog titles isn’t something that should be ignored. With the amount of time, effort and cash production companies have put into re-releasing their older titles on DVD, it’s easier than ever to stock older titles that have relevance to your customers’ buying preferences.

A lazy buyer’s response is to simply move what were formerly new releases into the main sections without any other thought, but with savvy diligence, any retailer can avoid this trap and stock older titles with legs.

Be ready to sell a production company/star’s older titles. If you aren’t maintaining your individual production company sections, you are really missing out on a prime opportunity to serve your customers.

If a particular company’s titles aren’t in stock, “some people will just never say anything — they’ll just go somewhere else,” said Donna Tietz, store manager of Video Dimensions' in Glenview, Ill. “With Evil Angel and Red Light — when they sell, we always bring another copy in because it will sell again. From Evil Angel, Buttman’s Inferno is a title that just sells and keeps selling, and people ask for it. We always make sure we have it.”

Also, the opportunity to make recommendations can be a golden one. Ellen Barnard, co-founder of A Woman’s Touch with stores in Madison and Milwaukee, Wisc., finds that stocking older titles broadens what she can offer a consumer who loves that newer title.

“We love to be able to say to consumers ‘If you like this, you might like that,’” Barnard said. “We are definitely seeing a crossover on [Vivid’s] The Devil in Miss Jones where if they love it, then they love The Masseuse 3, which is also a Paul Thomas piece. They both have great narrative and an edge, so it’s an easy recommendation.”

Certain key titles you simply must always have in stock. “There are some titles a store should never be out of,” Kim Sedergran of New Jersey-based distributor IVD said at a retailing seminar at this year’s Adult Entertainment Expo in Las Vegas. “A customer should never walk into a store and not be able to find Deep Throat.”

That’s true with a lot of titles, and if you don’t stock ‘em, you can be sure your competitors will. And thus, your customers will become theirs. If a series moves well, maintain it.

“If you’ve got a proven line that always moves, there’s a reason why it’s up to 20 or 30 in the series,” Steve Volponi, veteran salesman for Devil’s Film said. “Companies wouldn’t continue a series if it didn’t sell, and if the consumer hasn’t seen one of the titles, it’s new to them.”

Be sure that your stocking decisions are not all about you. If you stock as if you are your only customer, your sales will suffer.

“We know our customers really well, and their taste is king,” Logan Creighton, manager of Mr. Peeps in Aloha, Ore., said. “Ultimate gangbang kind of things, the 50 Guy Cream Pies are just too much DNA flying around for me, personally, but they sell really well, and that’s what I have to respect, ultimately.

And finally, some of that older product is cheaper, and that’s always welcome. Yesterday’s new release is today’s markdown with some production companies, so again, if it’s a well-loved title, be sure it’s in stock.

“Some of our grab bag titles are only eight months old, and unless the customer is strictly a new release customer, that customer is not going to see or feel the difference purchasing one of these versus one of the new releases,” said Bob Wolf, general manager of San Francisco-based distributor The Adult Supersource.