SE Store Chain Profile by Larry Kaplan

Adam Hedrick, District Manager for Excitement Superstores, is as committed to the success of their seven current locations as one might imagine any manager being. Here, Hedrick explain exactly what drives him and what provides the Excitement stores with their unique identity.

(Note: This story appears in the February 2024 issue of SE Magazine

Adam Hedrick, Excitement Superstores’ District Manager, knows adult retail well after dedicating 26 successful years to the industry. Starting part-time in college at a small adult store, he witnessed the transition from the old adult retail model of VHS porn and magazines to  today’s modern boutiques. Hedrick moved between various East Coast and Southern stores, each experience preparing him for the next challenge. His journey led him to Excitement Superstores, where he is a key figure in the Pennsylvania powerhouse.

SE: What does a typical workweek look like for you?

Hedrick: I thrive on 12-to-15-hour workdays, often skipping lunch and having dinner at 10 p.m. Days off leave me unsure of what to do with personal time; it’s not just about the company but a reflection of my workaholic nature. My success is tied to my all-encompassing dedication to work, and it seems I’m here to stay.

I have planning meetings with upper and middle management early each week. Then, I spend half a day on office tasks before hitting the field to connect with our teams. I believe my hands-on approach, showing up even at late hours, earns respect and motivates them. Leading by example, I’m not afraid to work all hours, demonstrating commitment.

SE: What are the defining characteristics of an Excitement Superstore? How do they differ from other stores?

Hedrick: We don’t do small, and there’s a reason. Owner David Betesh’s past experience with a small movie rental business in Philadelphia taught him a lesson when larger corporate chains like Blockbuster drove his mom-and-pop store out of business. To ensure it never happens again, our stores are each 4,000 square feet or larger. While plenty of stores are bigger than ours, we’re significantly larger than the average 1,200-2,000-square-foot adult stores today.

It’s often said that educating customers is crucial, and while it’s an important aspect for us, too, what truly stands out is the passion of our staff. Their genuine pride in enlightening and enhancing lives through their knowledge is remarkable. This knowledge is made possible by distributors, manufacturers, and sales reps who actively engage with us as their store customers, as evidenced by the noticeable boost in sales.

I wouldn’t be where I am today without the numerous relationships I’ve maintained with previous sales reps and store owners whose guidance molded me into a position ready to take on my role with Excitement.

That also includes critical, current relationships such as with Susan Colvin of CalExotics, this larger-than-life icon on the side of novelty boxes. But she’s also very normal, down-to-earth, and accessible to us. It just goes to show what a close-knit community the industry is.

SE: I understand you’ve got seven stores: five adult and two smoke shops. Is the seventh store reopened yet, after the tragic fire that took down your Camp Hill adult and smoke stores a year ago around Christmas?

Hedrick: Yes, that’s right. I aim to open the second store affected by the fire on February 1. Some of our stores are hybrids, featuring a mix of 2,500 square feet of this and 3,000 square feet of that. They vary in layout, with some intertwined and others conveniently located next to each other or in the same shopping center. This setup enables us to share employees between locations efficiently.

After years of working with David, I’ve grasped his mindset, operational style, and expectations. David values creating spaces with a wow factor, featuring unique elements not typical in retail or adult stores. For instance, in the remodeled Camp Hill store, we added a 10-foot secret tunnel connecting the adult and smoke shops, creating a provocative visual experience. We try to involve the community. I hired a local muralist to create this artwork inside the tunnel. At King of Prussia, a manufacturer crafted a human cage for dominant play suspended from the ceiling. In Camp Hill, bars from ceiling to floor evoke a human cage feel in the BDSM fetish area.

Camp Hill Tunnel

SE: Do you feel that these features will ensure that Excitement stores leave an indelible impression on your customers?

Hedrick: I’ve always had this philosophy: why are we in business? Sure, to make the cash register ring, but it doesn’t have to ring immediately. Give your guests a positive shopping experience. It’s okay if they don’t buy anything today. Let them leave and tell their friends about Excitement and what a fantastic experience they had. That’s how we grow the business over time.

SE: You only get one chance to make a great first impression, whether they spend money or not.

Hedrick: Yep, there’s regular communication to staff specifically about first impressions when we get around holidays like 420, Christmas, or Valentine’s Day. Many times, it really could be that customer’s first time walking through the door, so let’s treat it that way.

SE: What are the specific challenges of operating seven separate stores, even if a few are next to each other?

Hedrick: The main challenge is the inability to be in multiple places simultaneously, leading to a sense of helplessness. Whether it’s a credit card terminal issue or an employee facing a family death, there are instances where being present to take care of both your people and tasks becomes a significant challenge.

Ensuring operational uniformity across stores is challenging but essential to successfully sharing employees between stores. We’ve established a company-wide organizational structure, streamlining reporting lines and clarifying roles. This 18-month initiative with a consultation firm was a significant effort, but it has resulted in smoother operations.

“Give your guests a positive shopping experience. It’s okay if they don’t buy anything today. Let them leave and tell their friends about Excitement and what a fantastic experience they had. That’s how we grow the business over time.”


– Hedrick

SE: What changes have you witnessed in your stores and the industry over the twenty-six years since you started?

Hedrick: Over my industry tenure, I’ve witnessed a positive shift as the taboo around sex and smoke culture has decreased. Society’s growing acceptance of fringe-type businesses, significantly influenced by the internet, has dramatically transformed our operations.

We’re currently trying to grow our online presence, and it’s been an enormous challenge. I’ve been met with more roadblocks than I expected. It’s been very sobering for me how you approach new avenues in business and some of the trials and tribulations you’ll go through to get to the other side.

SE: How do you draw shoppers into your stores? Is there a market segment you’re particularly interested in, maybe one that’s eluded you? Or do you look at bolstering loyalty for your existing customers?

Hedrick: We try to do a multitude of things to market to customers. We still do some billboards and some radio, but we’ve transitioned much of the marketing from analog to digital through social media. However, it’s unfortunate that many social media platforms won’t allow adult or smoke to advertise. Geo-fencing-based digital advertising does provide a lot of added foot traffic for us. One of the things that we do really well is communicate directly with customers once they become customers. That’s collecting phone numbers and emails. We find that most customers are happy to leave that information with us. We communicate large sales, deep discounts, and marketing promos through an email program. Unlike SMS, where we’re very handcuffed on what we can say, email allows us to use the beautiful graphics we want and embed hyperlinks to the website. And that’s really an excellent tool for us as well.

SE: What are the keys to profitability in 2024, especially with online retail eating into brick-and-mortar sales?

Hedrick: We actively engage with the community, hosting closed shopping and closed educational shopping events and participating in community events like Cannafest or Pride.

It’s also about operating efficiently with regard to expenditures. We’re relying on our buyers to do their part with smart buying and transferring product around so things aren’t getting stale. Having a top upper management team you can rely on is crucial. I can’t say enough about our management. Nicole McDaniel is the Assistant General Manager and Jamie DiGuardi is our smoke buyer and longest-standing employee of 23 years. Without such critically important employees and many others, the stores would not be prospering as they are.

SE: What are your customer demographics? What percentage of your customers are men, women, and couples shopping together?

Hedrick: The shopping experience used to be male-dominated, but it’s now pretty evenly split between genders. The customer demographics vary by time and day, but overall, it’s balanced between those three groups.

SE: What’s the best part of your job, and what’s most challenging?

Hedrick: I enjoy playing project manager, which is usually during remodel projects. The required attention to detail, coordinating with designers, and staying on top of multiple contractors creates a high-pressure situation, which I thrive on.

In recent years, the most challenging aspect has been attracting and retaining employees, reflecting a shift in the workforce mindset post-Covid-19. Previously, employees aimed to demonstrate their worth, but now, their effort is closely tied to the perceived pay offered.

Larry Kaplan has been the Legal Correspondent for ED Publications for 22 years. Mr. Kaplan is a broker in the sale and purchase of adult retail stores and adult nightclubs and the Executive Director of the ACE of Michigan adult nightclub state trade association. Contact Larry Kaplan at 313-815-3311 or email