Fascinations - AZCentral News!

Russ Wiles , The Republic | AzCentral.com 2:03 p.m. MT June 22, 2017

View Full Article: http://www.azcentral.com/story/money/business/2017/06/22/fascinations-tones-down-sexy-products-hopes-lure-more-customers/405121001/

If you enter one of the nine Fascinations stores in Arizona, you will find sex toys, sexy lingerie, body oils and "instructional" videos.

If there were any doubts about whom the products are geared for, that's all dispelled by signs on the doors warning that shoppers must be 18 or older to enter.

Yet the Tempe-based company is gradually toning down its product line, hoping to lure a broader audience. There's some indication the strategy is working, underscored by its largely female customer base and its staff, which is 95 percent female.

The focus is on more clothing, including swimwear and sportswear, along with bath and body products such as creams and natural supplements. Still, there are plenty of "intimacy" toys, party games and sensual gifts.

Fascinations sells a range of Intimacy toys, lubricants, party games and other sensual products. (Photo: Russ Wiles)

The stores themselves are getting a makeover, too.

"We're creating a bright, open and inviting atmosphere," said Amy Dong, senior graphic designer for Fascinations, who has helped redesign the interiors. "We really want to make people feel comfortable walking into our stores." - Dong

Troy Piazza, who took over as CEO in January, said the sensual chain is trying to push more into the mainstream retail landscape.

"Fascinations has had a stigma, a perception of what we are and what we stand for," - Piazza

For example, Piazza said he asked various suppliers to remove nude photos from packaging, though nudity can still be glimpsed here and there.

"I've made deals with a lot of vendors to soften their products," - Piazza

But progress can't be verified independently.

The privately held company doesn't disclose its revenue numbers or other financial details. Yet Piazza said business has been steady, through good times and bad, and that Fascinations is solidly profitable, with no debt.

The company started in 1981 in Tucson and the nine Fascinations stores in Arizona have about 80 employees. Six stores in Colorado have another 54 workers.

While the company has a website, funlove.com, the bricks and mortar format still works well for it, Piazza said, especially in reaching female customers who want to try on clothes and assess other products in person.

Keri Birchby, a buyer for Fascinations, selects the products sold in stores. (Photo: Russ Wiles)

Intimate toys are the company's top-selling product category, followed by lingerie, and then beauty products. A big push is on selling more women's apparel.

"We're really trying to focus on finding (clothing) items that are unique, European-inspired, with a little edgy twist to them," said Keri Birchby, a buyer for the chain. The clothing, mostly geared toward women, ranges from athletic wear to "black dresses for date night," -Birchby

At a time when many retailers are struggling, Piazza said Fascinations is pursuing a robust expansion. The company plans to double in size over the next three to five years in terms of revenue, stores and employees.

So if there isn't a Fascinations location near you, there might be one coming fairly soon.

"We are planning to grow significantly," - Piazza

Find a store near you!

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