(Note: This story is by SE Legal Correspondent Larry Kaplan and appears in the June issue of STOREROTICA Magazine)

The industry Zoom event on May 1 attracted more than 500 participants.

To keep customers engaged and maintain its brand’s relevance to the public during the COVID-19 shutdowns, Lion’s Den had its first virtual Girls’ Night In via Zoom on May 1.

“We weren’t shooting for a high-budget event, we just wanted to make people forget about this craziness for an hour or so,” explains Lion’s Den marketing director Pete Potenzini.

Lion’s Den’s digital marketing manager Ali Dunlap-Gregory, who hosted the virutal meetup, suggested the Zoom platform as an efficient, economical way to stage the event, and they were off to the races.

Lion’s Den partnered with industry brands whose representatives co-hosted the meetup. Coochy and Crazy Girl from Classic Brands sent Nicole McCree. Pipedream Products was represented by Heather McNeely. Lianna Casten-Sabio was there from Fantasy Lingerie, as were Lupe Martinez from CalExotics and System JO’s Gerald Martin. The Zoom event attracted over 500 participants.

Dunlap-Gregory handed the meetup off to each vendor, who went into their product demonstrations and descriptions. They each also played a game with the attendees. The games included Sex Trivia, Name that Tune and Sex Toy or Dog Toy? More than $1,000 in products and gift cards were given out, along with the grand prize, a trip for two to the winner’s choice of pre-selected destinations.

“I wasn’t sure what kind of people would show up for something like this,” explains Dunlap-Gregory. “I had never seen anybody do anything like this before, so I didn’t have a high expectation.”

Attendees signed up for the event via the Eventbrite ticketing website. Almost 1,000 people RSVP’d.

“We expected about half to show up, and the 500 plus who did was plenty,” he said.

The attendees were offered 20% off of the featured products for that entire weekend. The party wasn’t about increasing sales, but the frosting on the cake was that the stores did quite well.

“Our online e-commerce has exploded during COVID-19, and especially during this promotion,” notes Potenzini. “During the event, we toggled through the screens to make sure nobody was doing anything untoward. It went very smoothly. Nobody got on and tried to do anything illicit or weird, so that was positive. Everyone seemed to have a perfect time.

Participants drank wine or beer, one woman had her phone set up on the back of her stove showing her cooking with the kids in the background at the table while she watched the show.

“There was such a fantastic womanly vibe going on,” says Dunlap-Gregory. “We had music playing, and there were women dancing, singing, and laughing.”

“We weren’t shooting for a high-budget event, we just wanted to make people forget about this craziness for an hour or so.” — Pete Potenzini

The event was promoted through email to Lion’s Den 350,000 LD Rewards members and across the chain’s social media platforms. The next “Night In” party, a couples’ night in partnership with the WOW Tech Group of brands, was scheduled for May 22. The pleasure products brand will also host a guys’ night on June 12.

Potenzini says that Lion’s Den is considering further “nights in,” after pandemic curfews are lifted.

“Frankly, we’re not sure people will be comfortable standing shoulder to shoulder with others in our stores, at least right away,” Potenzini says. “So we’re thinking of doing more of these, only on a market-by-market basis, rather than as chain-wide events. This way, we’re kind of controlling our messaging, as opposed to people just seeing this store on the highway or elsewhere and not knowing who we are. I think this keeps us top-of-mind and a familiar mainstream brand to them.”

It’s par for the messaging course.

“That’s our voice on social media as well, Potenzini says. “Way less salesy than you would expect; more as a trusted resource for education and for feeling good.”

Larry Kaplan is the Legal Correspondent for StorErotica Magazine. Mr. Kaplan is a business 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 e-mail larry@kaplanstoresales.com. Contact Ali Dunlap-Gregory at (740) 817-0315.