I have owned sex shops since 1994, starting with my first sex shop in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico. I never imagined that I would be working in this industry, I have an interesting background having received an MBA from Cornell University in 1980 and working in the marketing and management departments for corporations like General Foods and Duracell for many years.
I always had an entrepreneurial spirit and after I had enough of the corporate world, I decided to establish a company to rep products who needed marketing and distribution help in Puerto Rico. One of my first products turned out to be a male sexual enhancer by the name of Vigorex Forte, it was an all-natural male enhancer, this was long before Viagra was on the market and the only ingredient in it was Avena Sativa. I do not know how they extracted the key ingredients, but there was something remarkable about this product because it produced extraordinary results. I used the product many times myself and I would say it was better than Viagra because it not only gave you a stronger erection it also increased desire for sex, something that Viagra or Cialis do not do. Additionally, it had no side effects like headache or acid reflux associated with it.
I took that product and produced some infomercials on it, and it was an immediate success in Puerto Rico. In hindsight with my marketing skills, I could have taken this product much further on a worldwide basis, but instead I realized that there was money in this sex business, so I decided to put up sex shops in Puerto Rico. That was not such a bad idea either since there were no other shops on the island. My stores called Condom World turned out to be popular and I was able to put up a bunch of stores, I currently have 18 stores in Puerto Rico and am putting up number 19 now.
Having a corporate background has been a real plus in this industry, it has helped me be very disciplined and handle things in a serious professional manner. I have seen people come and go in this industry and some of people who put up sex shops think it’s going to be all fun and games. Do not get me wrong, it’s a fun industry and it is very fulfilling to know how much fun and satisfaction we bring to people every day, but it is seriously hard work.
When I put up my first store in Old San Juan, PR after a few months my store was raided by the police who confiscated practically all my merchandise and I was charged with breaking the local obscenity laws. I should add that even though I'm Puerto Rican I spent most my life up to that point living in Connecticut and New York and was unaware of those laws in Puerto Rico. It was a really stressful time for me because if convicted I could have been sentenced to prison time. I later learned that the raid was initiated at the request of groups like Morality in Media and other religious leaders in Puerto Rico, so I now had enemies and serious ones at that. Although I couldn't prove any direct connection I soon found my car with 4 flats one morning and also another morning I found my car with burnt marks on the front of the car, as if someone tried to set my car on fire but failed.
These groups also came and picketed my store. The good thing out of all of this is that they gave my store enormous amounts of news coverage. I was suddenly the "Larry Flynt" of the island and I was sought after for radio and TV interviews. I'm naturally a shy person but I know what it is like to walk out of courtroom and have a bunch of reporters waiting outside with cameras flashing. I reminded of this each time I see a similar scene in a movie.
One of the funny anecdotes that came out of the day they picketed my store was that there was this police woman sent to protect the entrance to my store. The day after the picketing she came back and told me she was unaware the store was there and purchased a strap on for her and her girlfriend, she paid for it and got on her police motorcycle, but had no way to secure it on the bike. I went back into the store and luckily I had some duck tape and was able to secure it to the front of the bike.
My first court case dragged on for about a year but the judge finally dismissed the charges against me. I had a victory party and a lot of media buzz once again, but the authorities were not through with me yet. In the next year they brought 4 other cases against me, all of which I won and was allowed to remain open.
The interesting thing was that sometimes the police the state brought to charge me were my customers, luckily several of them were very decent human beings and let their supervisors know that they didn't think there was anything wrong with the stuff I was selling and helped me out when they could.
I was also helped by my church group, I was a part of Unity in Puerto Rico. Unity is a very accepting philosophy which I still practice and I got a lot of support from them. I was on the Board of Directors at the time of the raid and although I expected them to ask me to step down, they didn't and instead created a support group that attended my hearings as a show of solidarity, that was something, I can say I was really blessed by that.
My operation in Puerto Rico has about 125 people working in it, I have a staff of people who manage it quite well which allows me to live in Fort Lauderdale and only occasionally check in with them.
During the Covid crisis I decided to start a new venture in the sex shop industry. I realized that a lot of the restaurants had shifted their business to delivery service, and it dawned upon me that a similar service in the adult toys business made a lot of sense. I did not have any market research to back it up, but I believed that when people are in the mood for shopping for a sex toy, they generally want it as quickly as possible. I decided that the idea was worth a shot, so I started Toys Tonight in the Wynwood area of Miami opening exclusively as an online retailer featuring local delivery.
We have had great success; we did eventually open a retail store at our Wynwood location and recently expanded by adding a second store at 1637 Washington Ave in Miami Beach. A good thing about our locations is the ability to serve our Afro American and Hispanic communities. Both these communities have been traditionally underserved in the sex industry as most of the sex stores are in suburban areas off the major highways.
The quick delivery business continues to grow, we have gotten rave reviews from our customers who cannot believe how quickly they get their products. It has been especially popular with tourist visiting Miami Beach and Wynwood and Brickell areas of Miami.
For tourist in those areas, it is difficult for them to get into a car and drive across town to go to nice sex shop, it is much better for the sex shop to come to them.
Getting the service part correct is important and we have tried many alternatives to getting the delivery portion of our business correct. We have tried outside services, our own employees and have even tried getting around town on scooters and electric bikes. We now use a combination of these services to provide the delivery experience we want, which is to deliver your sex toys in under one hour in the Miami area.