What's the markup on sex toys and "naughty" apparel?
May 26, 2004 6:05 AM   Subscribe

AdultToyStore Filter! Does anyone know what the markup is on sex toys and/or naughty apparel? In the great American tradition of business, I've been toying with the idea of opening an establishment in an industry I know nothing about. Unfortunately, my back-of-the-envelope feasibility analysis is foundering because I don't know what kinds of margins to predict on sales. Additionally, does anyone know a toystore owner/operator who'd be willing to give advice/guidance on the pitfalls of this kind of business?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

I have a friend who does "passion parties" sort of a tupperware party scene for sex toys and other related items. I bet she'd be happy to chat you up about it. I'm also pals with these people. Email or IM me and I'll send you their contact info.
posted by jessamyn at 9:24 AM on May 26, 2004

"...chat you up about it..."

You dead-panned that, didn't you?
posted by five fresh fish at 9:48 AM on May 26, 2004

I'll wager that you could do a fair feasibility with the idea that the markup is keystone (50%). I might also think that you should, yes, at this early a stage, go to your local SBA (small business assoc.) and start on a REAL feasibility plan. It's free and priceless. Really, then you will know if it is worth your time. Check a few of my previous Askmefi entries to see that I am starting a business myself and the advice others gave me.

This business model, it vibrates?
heh. sorry couldn't resist!
posted by BrodieShadeTree at 9:51 AM on May 26, 2004

"...chat you up about it..."

This is one of those phrases like "good to go" which means different things regionally. Where I'm from if you chat someone up, you're just talking to them. I think my friend from the passion party said she takes home 40% or so, with 10% going to her sponsor [it's a bit MLM in that way] and the rest to the parent company, which is pretty much what Brodie said.
posted by jessamyn at 10:42 AM on May 26, 2004

The most difficult part is marketing, IMHO.

With an internet store, you simply can't get heard above the general roar unless you have something else that you gain a reputation for (i.e. Good Vibrations' stories/advice) ... and word of mouth is always going to be the best advertising.

With a brick & mortar store, you have to deal with the community and the embarrasment of your clientele. Keep in mind that you'll be a destination store, not a strip-mall browsing store... it might be a good idea if you look for a location that has some parking and an entrance that can't be seen from the street, and in an area that's nice and close to upscale areas while at the same time not likely to generate complaints from neighbors.
posted by SpecialK at 11:39 AM on May 26, 2004

I'm a minority investor in an Adult Book Store.

The markup on toys is often in the 200-300% range in brick and mortar operations.

Its even higher at wholesale, but, well lets just say that its not a healthy thing to be asking such questions of the folks you do business with at the distribution level.
posted by Fupped Duck at 11:52 AM on May 26, 2004

As with any business, the best thing you can do is get a job in a store or partner with someone with deep experience. Unless you've got all the investment capital yourself, no one will touch your business plan with a ten foot pole (or even a six inch one- ba dum bum!) unless you've got real industry experience (no, not that kind of industry experience...).
posted by mkultra at 12:07 PM on May 26, 2004

Have you considered opening a second-hand or "gently used" sex toy store? It's something of a niche market, yes, but it's one that's just waiting to be penetrated!

/couldn't resist
posted by funkbrain at 1:17 PM on May 26, 2004

Ew - used sex toys? That can't be sanitary. Who the hell would want someone else's- oh, wait, I get it. Kinda like those panties vending machines in Japan. Ew.
posted by MsVader at 1:58 PM on May 26, 2004

(Not that there's anything wrong with that...)
posted by MsVader at 1:58 PM on May 26, 2004

Used unwanted toys should be sent to less fortunate countries.
posted by stbalbach at 2:43 PM on May 26, 2004

Or just sent to countries, which will thereby become less fortunate…
posted by fvw at 3:14 PM on May 26, 2004

fvw you have that wrong. SOME countries could USE a nice sex toy and would thereby become MORE fortunate. What's the zip for 1600 PA ave?

A good thing with a sex shop is to look like something else, or even BE something else, with the sex shop attached/enclosed separately. This plays to the embarrassment factor mentioned above.

I would be inclined to suppose that such a store would find it difficult to compete with online shops.
posted by Goofyy at 2:39 AM on May 27, 2004

Goofyy: Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against sex toys. I merely think most people wouldn't be too happy with used sex toys, at least not used by someone other than themselves/SO/past SO.
posted by fvw at 3:44 AM on May 29, 2004

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