Square footage: 2,000
Location: Isabela, PR
Phone: (787) 830-2284
Ted Vayos: How did you first decide to open your store?
Rose Santiago: Fifteen years ago I was a manager at a Wal-Mart store in Puerto Rico, and I noticed that customers were frequently asking where they could find a novelty or sexy lingerie shop. Due to the taboo nature of tantalizing products in Puerto Rico, I couldn’t think of anything in the way of sexy shops in my area, so I decided to start my own business.
While still working at Wal-Mart, I began hosting Catholic retreats for married couples and bachelorette parties, then took the plunge and opened my own sexy lingerie and novelty store -— the only one in the area — Intimate Treasures, in Isabela, Puerto Rico. The 500-square-foot boutique ended up not being big enough for all of the merchandise that customers, mainly made up of couples and dancers, were requesting. After five years, I rented the shop next store, and in the back expanding Intimate Treasures to an impressive 2,000-square-feet; making it a Wal-Mart-sized version of a sexy store.
Intimate Treasures also has an e-commerce website in Puerto Rico, and shorly will be launching it in five languages, (Spanish, English, German Italian and French) with 2054 apparel styles currently listed in categories including lingerie, accessories, Holloween costumes, leather-vinyl, legwear, shoes, boots, wigs, bachelorette, movies, stripper service and swimwear, among others.
Ted: Describe your products.
Rose: I, who do all of the buying for the store, order styles in sizes XS through 4X from all the major brands including Shirley of Hollywood, Leg Avenue, Forplay, Escante, Dreamgirl, Elegant Moments, Eldorado, Baci, Ellie Shoes, Pleaser USA shoes, and others. I have not needed to phase out any brands as a result of the ailing economy. Every brand in my store moves. Top selling apparel items are bustiers, and my prices range all the way from 50 cents to $600.
Ted: What is the impact of Halloween?
Rose: Starting from Sep-tember one of the stores becomes a full service Halloween costume store. Sizes run from small to 3x-4x.
Ted: Tell me about your customers.
Rose: My customer base ranges in age from 19 to 72-years-olds. (Due to the X-rated nature of some of my merchandise, photo I.Ds are required upon entrance). 50 percent female and 50 percent malel. I carry men’s intimates by Fantasy, Excite, Escante, Minor Creation, Rubie’s, Seven ‘til Midnight and Shirley of Hollywood. The typical customer spends between $20 and $50 per visit.
Ted: How has the economy affected your company?
Rose: My customers are facing the socio-economic profile in a positive way: they kill the stress shopping in my energetic boutique! They tell me it is a pleasure to come to my store because I not only have a large inventory of merchandise but I also explain to my customers how to use the products, how to put the thigh highs on, how to give a massage and how to look sexy for their partners. Out here in Puerto Rico novelty stores are still a big taboo, but once I break the ice for them, they feel right at home the next time around!
Ted: Describe the layout of the store.
Rose: To add a creative (and eye-catching) touch to my store’s interior, I painted the outside of Intimate Treasures a lilac shade and the inside lilac and white. To keep shopping hassle-free, all name brands and categories are placed in individual sections.
Ted: Anything else about the store?
Rose: Although a few similar stores have opened and closed in the area, I believe that I have kept my store afloat because I truly enjoy working with customers, and always have a smile on my face. I also keep merchandise up-to-date, and continue to host marriage retreats.
I can be found at the International Lingerie Show in Las Vegas, which I attend yearly. I also attend trade shows throughout New York and San Juan, P.R