In November 2002, Sandy Keeler took her home-based business to the next level by opening brick-and-mortar store Alluring Intimates. With the new location, Keeler hoped to create a unique and tasteful boutique-like atmosphere that would offer her customers a wide range of products in a vast range of sizes.
Although her background is in accounting, Keeler always loved lingerie and would host lingerie parties for her girlfriends every October, something she did for approximately ten years.
"We'd drink wine and try on lingerie and have a blast," she said. "At that time, there weren't a lot of options for lingerie home parties. I figured I knew a lot about lingerie and was frustrated with the reps out there." Long story short, the 1,455-square-foot store was born.
"I wanted it to look like a boutique as opposed to a sex store," explained Keeler. "[The store is] children friendly [and features] warm and welcoming colors." Additionally, customers are offered coffee, tea and water upon entering.
According to Keeler, her customer base ranges from 18- to 80-year-olds, but is mainly comprised of couples in their late 30's to 40's. "A lot of younger people come seasonally for Halloween," added Keeler. "We also have a good base with dancers (strippers). Canadian rules are completely different than in the states-very elaborate costumes are needed here." Cross dressers also pop in from time to time to peruse the store's collection of shoes and lingerie in "Diva" sizes.
Other products offered at the store include clubwear, swimwear (the least requested category), massage oils and adult novelty items. Apparel runs in sizes S through 6X.
Currently, the three most requested brands and items in the store are GREGG for men, We-Vibes, Shirley of Hollywood corsets and Dreamgirl clubwear and lingerie. Top sellers are the corsets, schoolgirl costumes and nurse costumes.
Adult toys are also available for purchasing in addition to men's and women's styles, but are tucked away neatly behind armoires in a separate area "as to not offend anyone," said Keeler.
Recently, Keeler added Music Legs, which she purchases through Canadian distributor Jolar Speck. "Jolar Speck and I have been in a relationship for seven years," explained Keeler. "Basically the reason for adding this company is that my [Jolar Speck] is now carrying them. [I also added] Music Legs because of the bodystocking and stocking variety. Also, they have some really awesome costumes. The one catalog is School Girls only, and I am looking forward to launching a separate section just for them." She also buys Dreamgirl and Spreegirl from Jolar Speck. In addition she has recently added Forplay products because she thinks the company's clubwear dresses will be complementary to her lineup.
In the past few months, a few new competing stores have opened in the area, but Keeler is not worried it will affect her business. "In general, I feel service, price and selections make us OK," she said. "Customer service is number one [for us], as well as cleanliness and the appearance of the store."
In the future, Keeler plans to have an Internet business for novelty items.