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Nolan Williams Retires from Adam & Eve

Nolan and Debbie Williams.
Nolan and Debbie Williams.

(Filed Under Fashion News). Nolan Williams, director of franchise store development for Adam & Eve, has retired after over 11 years with the company and 27 years working in the sexy market. His last day of employment was January 21.

Williams, who turns 66 this year, decided to retire after working steadily since his college years at the Rochester Institute of Technology. “I’ve left one job on a Friday and started a new one the following Monday. I’ve taken very few breaks,” he said.

But despite looking forward to some time off, Williams will miss the team at Adam & Eve and parent company PHE. “It is a great company with great management, great employees and great customers,” he said. “It has been so wonderful to be a part of, and I thank them for giving me the opportunity.”

During his time with the company, Williams was instrumental in developing its successful franchise model, which was implemented in 2004 and now encompasses over 20 franchisees operating nearly 50 stores in 13 states, including California, Montana, Arizona, North Carolina and Florida. His wife, Debra, who continues to work as a contractor for Adam & Eve, has also held a pivotal role, he said, particularly in store buying and merchandising.

The Williams began their relationship with Adam & Eve in 1999, when the company became interested in entering retail. That year, the couple sold Adam & Eve the Raleigh location of Night Dreams, their North Carolina-based lingerie/adult store chain, followed by their Greensboro store in 2000. In 2001, the company bought the third and final store in Charlotte, bringing Nolan on as full-time employee and Debra as an independent contractor for buying.

Although the Night Dreams stores were converted, the concept, which Nolan and Debra founded in 1983, did not die. The two took many of their ideas about adult retailing to Adam & Eve. “Night Dreams was not a porn store; yes we carried adult products, but we had a huge inventory in lingerie, clubwear and dancewear by some very nice lines like Mary Green, Shirley of Hollywood, Dreamgirl and Magic Silk. We were women-friendly,” Williams said. “It was a different animal than what was out there at that time. When we started up, Victoria’s Secret wasn’t even in Greensboro yet."

According to Williams, in 2004 he and the Adam & Eve team decided that franchising was the way to grow at a much faster pace, and began by converting its six company-owned stores into franchise operations.

While the franchise model has proven successful for Adam & Eve, it has also given many people the support needed to run their own businesses. “They say that over 90 percent of independent stores fail for a number of reasons, including not having adequate capital or not having the necessary experience,” Williams said. “At the same time, over 90 percent of franchises succeed and that is because they have brand recognition, operating systems and business support. Adam & Eve’s franchisees are offered support, including marketing/advertising, operations, store planning and employee training. That is why it has been so successful.”

And according to Bob Christian, president of Adam & Eve stores, the company owes much of this retail success to Williams. “We greatly appreciate Nolan’s enormous contribution to Adam & Eve and to making the company’s store system possible,” he said. “To be able to work with him and his wife, Debbie, and share their years of experience in brick and mortar retail has probably saved us many years of learning curve time. Nolan is irreplaceable.”

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Published 01-27-2011 by Amanda Torres Price

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