Q&A with Steve Bernier, key buyer
Number of stores: 1
Locations: San Diego, Calif.
Square footage: 5,000
Year opened: 2008
Ted Vayos, BODY: Describe your store.
Steve: Mankind is a lifestyle boutique, catering primarily to the needs of gay men. Although we have a larger selection for the male gender, we have something for everyone! We are a three-floor, 5,000-square-foot building with over 5,000 products in stock. We offer several exclusive brands of swim and underwear that you cannot find anywhere else in San Diego.
Ted: What makes your store special?
Steve: We have everything from leisure to underwear, bathing suits, gifts, greeting cards, pride items, lubes, condoms, leather, fetish gear, adult novelties, porn and art items from local artists. Having such a wide variety of items makes Mankind a one-stop shop for the gay male. We offer competitive pricing and great customer service that sets our store apart. We are clean, organized and have knowledgeable, trained employees, which is one of the first comments I hear from customers. We have the most extensive movie rentals in San Diego, with over 2,000 movies — both adult and mainstream gay films. Women often feel very welcome here as we have a very refined selection of bachelorette items and the LELO line of female toys.
Ted: What brands are important to your store?
Steve: We pride ourself in special ordering sizes or styles of certain items when it can be done — part of our great customer service. The quality of the brand is very important, as is the exclusivity. We carry ES, Addicted, James Tudor, Team 8, Freedom Reigns, Ristefsky, Pull-In, Nasty Pig, Timoteo, Diesel, Private Structure and many others.
Ted: What are you looking for in a vendor?
Steve: I look at what would fit into our store — what we may be lacking in variety, or for those unique items that are hard to find. I pride myself in building good working relationships that are based on respect and follow-through on both sides.
Ted: Describe popular styles in your store.
Steve: We are carrying the Pan Am bag series from the hit TV show, which are big at the moment. Timoteo, Pull-In, ES, Addicted and James Tudor are a few of our popular brands. When it comes to adult novelties, I’ve tried to always have the latest hot-selling item and bring in debut toys as soon as possible.
Ted: Describe your price points.
Steve: We are very competitive when it comes to pricing. Multiple locals have touted that we have better pricing on items that may be sold in other stores in town. We often have specials or discounts on certain brands and we have a good year-round sale section.
Ted: What is your typical customer size?
Steve: Our typical customer would be size small/medium, although I have increased the extra-large sizes to fulfill the request of our increasingly diverse customers.
Ted: What does the average customer spend per visit?
Steve: We are very fortunate in this economy as we are seeing a steady increase in sales. I’ve not figured out what the average customer spends because it’s been changing on a weekly basis.
Ted: Describe your customer base.
Steve: We primarily cater to gay males. Gay men love the large variety of "necessities" we carry, and women and straight couples like our store for the variety of merchandise from toys to bondage items.
Ted: Is there any other information you’d like to share?
Steve: Mankind is a lifestyle boutique — we pride ourselves in educating our customers and being able to increase their pleasure as well as their self-confidence. We are able to aid them with our wide variety of brands, styles and friendly advice!