Dwindling number of adult stores blamed on internet

Wayne Johnson has owned Strictly Adult in Hamilton for the past 17 years. He says its a tough industry for multiple reasons.
CHRISTEL YARDLEY/FAIRFAX NZ

Wayne Johnson has owned Strictly Adult in Hamilton for the past 17 years. He says its a tough industry for multiple reasons.

The number of adult stores throughout the country is dwindling and the internet is copping the blame. But Hamilton seems to be bucking the trend.

Napier's only sex store closed in February with online sales blamed for its demise. Palmerston North's  D.Vice on Taonui St closed in 2014 due to declining foot traffic. 

Wendy Lee, who was the company director at the time, had said business had been driving to online sales. 

Wayne Johnson has owned Strictly Adult in Hamilton for the past 17 years. He says its a tough industry for multiple reasons.
CHRISTEL YARDLEY/FAIRFAX NZ

Wayne Johnson has owned Strictly Adult in Hamilton for the past 17 years. He says its a tough industry for multiple reasons.

Read More:  Napier's only sex shop has closed its doors for the final time

But D.Vice, a chain store that began in Melbourne in 2003 and manufactures its own products in its Wellington-based factory, is opening a new store in central Hamilton soon.

The Barton St store is the first to open under the new owner, Fritz Peterson, who took over D.Vice in 2015.

Peterson is a veteran in the industry, having started Peaches and Cream in 1992. He said opening the store in Hamilton made sense because of the population size.

It will be a small boutique store. He said business had slowed but hopes to bring it back.

"We're not the normal, run of the mill sex store. We don't sell any pornography. We sell toys for grown ups. 

"D.Vice is a really good brand. The staff have a huge amount of knowledge. 

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"Today it doesn't really matter if you buy a garment or a car, people expect you to have a knowledge of the product."

Peaches and Cream was sold to EPL Group in 2001. 

EPL Group general manager Matt Bathgate said a store's success came down to population, with some areas not having a large enough population to cater to.

"It's a tough gig. I've been in the industry for nine or 10 years and it's definitely not getting any easier.."

The internet had made a dent in the industry, he said. 

Independent retailers have been hit the hardest because of steep competition from the larger chain stores.

Wayne Johnson has owned Strictly Adult in Hamilton for the past 17 years.

One of the only independent adult stores in Hamilton, the purple shop at the north end of Victoria St sells everything from leather and latex costumes to novelties and toys.

Johnson said he has managed to stick it out for so long because of his loyal customer base.

"I treat people right and I keep a clean store.

"It's a tough industry. This place isn't like a supermarket, with people wheeling a trolley around, they get one or two things. There's no super huge sales, there's a lot of smaller sales. 

"We're battling the internet."

Johnson is a motor mechanic by trade. He admits to being "a bit behind when it comes to retailing". He said he doesn't know how to display the merchandise or much about the digital side of retailing. 

Competition with the larger chain stores makes for a tough environment as well. 

Chain stores buy in bulk, allowing for them to have large sales. Johnson keeps prices the same all year round. 

"They're like a supermarket, I'm the dairy."

Having been in business for so many years he has seen the industry evolve. Gone are the days of the sleazy stores.

Back in those days it was mainly men who entered the store, he said. Now attitudes have changed.

Advertising had become too expensive and he  now relies on word of mouth.

"The new generation is used to this type of thing," he said. "These young ones, they know what it's about."

He said Hamilton had too many shops. Whenever one drops off it's a good thing for him.

In a few years he hopes to sell the business to someone younger.

 - Stuff

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