November 1, 2023
After a lot of analysis and discussion, we’ve made a hard decision. It’s time to shut the store down.
The 25th anniversary of our first sale was a couple of months ago: on 9/13/1998 we sold a Bam dildo. We made $1347 the first month. All we wanted to do was make a bit of extra pocket money. Little did we know what would happen. Though most of 1999 our sales were in the range of $4,000 to $8,000 a month. That was pretty good pocket money!
In November of 1999 we decided to pay Yahoo $400 to guarantee that they would index our site. You had to do that back then to make sure people could find you. That was a good investment. Our sales in December were $12,424. (By the way, that was the only time we ever spent any money on marketing!)
Sales grew at a good rate. By the end of 2001 we were making about $22,000 a month. Then the company I was working for was doing a staff reduction and they offered a buyout to encourage people to leave voluntary. I walked out with 18 months salary and started working full time on the store. Sales kept growing, and in 2007 our sales were just over $600,000/year.
Then in 2008 the Great Recession happened, and sales started to slump. And kept slumping. The general economy eventually recovered somewhat, but the store never did. In the past couple of years we’ve been making less than we did in 1999.
We’ve had a great run, but it’s taking more and more out of us to keep going. It’s been harder to find the kinds of products we made our reputation on: the biggest and most unusual toys on the market. The big manufacturers stopped making as many large toys, and that market moved to smaller manufacturers making silicone toys that were available in multiple sizes, like Bad Dragon and Mr. Hankey’s Toys. You can even find toys like that on Etsy! We did have two small manufacturers making toys to our specifications, and they sold extremely well. Then they both shut down a few years ago, with no warning, in the space of two months. They accounted for 50% of our sales. That was really the death knell for us, but we’ve tried to keep going since then.
So we did the math, and came to the realization that the store isn’t really supporting itself any more. The cost to run the store is pretty much a break even with the income it brings in. And nothing we tried… finding new products, trying to improve our results on search engines, social media… nothing had any effect on sales.
So we’re shutting it down. We’re hving a “Black November” sale this month with 10% off almost everything in the store. On December 1st we’ll leave the store up so that people can still access their accounts to check order status. But we’ll turn off the ability to place orders, search the site, or access product pages. We’ll need to keep the store “alive” for a few months, probably into mid-2024. Then we’ll delete the site altogether.
We’re looking forward to finally retiring. We’re in our early 70s, so it’s well past time. I’ll be using my new free time to run a couple more sites: a food blog, and a movie review site featuring Found Footage films. Here they are. The food blog has been running for about a year. The Found Footage site is brand new, so there’s nothing there yet. But please bookmark it and subscribe to the mailing list so you’ll be the first to know when we start posting our reviews!
The Spice of Your Life: a food blog
We Found Your Footage: a movie review site
If you’ve made it this far, thank you. We appreciate you sticking with us and helping us keep the store going.
Play hard and play safe,
Grey and Star