Valentine's Day means big business for Treasure Valley's adult novelty stores

February is the best time of year for such Treasure Valley businesses, which benefit from Valentine’s Day.

zkyle@idahostatesman.comFebruary 14, 2014 

Flowers, chocolates and dinner reservations aren’t the only way to celebrate Valentine’s Day.

Wednesday was a busy business day for Adam & Eve, an adult store at 6919 W. Fairview Ave. in Boise. A dozen customers perused rows of brightly assorted lingerie and adult products.

That pleased Kara McGee, who owns the store with her husband, Kraig. She said the store depends on a 30 percent spike in sales leading up to the holiday.

“February is always our busiest month, because it’s the love season,” she said. “For the whole industry, this is our Christmas season. Christmas does well, but Valentine’s Day always beats it.”

With its high ceilings, bright lighting and vivid colors, Adam & Eve isn’t anything like the dark, bars-on-the-windows smut shops that the term “adult store” conjures. The Treasure Valley has a handful of such “couples-friendly” businesses.

The McGees own Adam & Eve stores in Boise, Nampa, Coeur d’Alene, Reno and Salem, Ore. The chain’s rise parallels the rise of adult stores catering to women and couples rather than hard-core pornography users, Kraig McGee said.

“The consumer has changed,” he said. “Women are now our customers who would never have gone into the boarded-up, down-by-the-tracks places. That’s a big difference.”

The Nampa store was the 10th in the national franchise when it opened in 2008. There are now 55.

Kraig McGee said his stores match or beat the chain’s average of a half-million dollars each in annual sales. The McGees’ stores are enjoying sales growth of 5 or 6 percent each year, he said.

Still, browsing in Adam & Eve, the Pleasure Boutique or Tasteful Sinsations isn’t the same as browsing in the historic nonfiction section at Barnes & Noble, at least not for many first-time shoppers the McGees see before Valentine’s Day.

Many wander shyly among the toys and oils as if lost. Others, fearless, want to talk freely about what specific item best fits their needs.

The store usually has a 60-40 split between women and men, Kara McGee said. In the week leading up to Valentine’s Day, women make up most of the shoppers. That flip-flops on the 13th and 14th.

“Men procrastinate,” she said.

Lingerie sales increase in February, especially stockings, which triple, McGee said. The trendy item this year is a sheer, apron-style teddy costing between $24 and $30.

However, novelties — including toys — double clothing sales, McGee said.

More couples come to the store in February, which McGee said can remove the chance of one partner buying an unwanted gift.

“Both men and women will make the mistake of coming in and getting something a little crazier than they need for the first time,” McGee said. “Their spouse or girlfriend or boyfriend goes, ‘Whoa! What were you thinking?’ ”

Two young Boise women — Phyllicia, 20, and Mickala, 18, who asked that their last names not be used — said they came to Adam & Eve looking for lingerie as a gift for their respective boyfriends.

Instead, Phyllicia bought several novelty items, one with him in mind and one for her.

Mickala said she didn’t find the lingerie she was looking for. “My boyfriend is really picky,” she said. “And besides, I already have everything (Phyllicia) got. I told her to buy it.”

Leslie Northup, who owns Tasteful Sinsations at 5634 W. State St., said February is her best sales month, though business picks up starting in October because her store sells a lot of skimpy costumes popular around Halloween.

Tasteful Sinsations is in its third year. During its first year, Northup said she and two employees had little to do in early February. That changed as Valentine’s Day approached.

“We just sat there looking at each other,” she said. “Then, on the 13th and 14th, there were people everywhere. It was like going to a grocery store on Christmas Eve.”

Zach Kyle: 377-6464, @IDS_zachkyle

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