SE Store Chain Profile by Larry Kaplan

There’s a world of difference between banking and erotic retail, but the transition from one to the other has transformed the life of Loretta Goodling of the Excitement store chain.

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

Fifteen years ago, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania native Loretta Goodling had achieved the title of assistant branch manager at a local bank. Still, as a woman in an old-boy’s institution, when it came time for board meetings, she was relegated to serving coffee to the men at the meetings. A single mother with two young sons to support, Goodling was fed up with banking and simply quit — and went on a quest for an altogether different daytime job.

Growing up in central Pennsylvania, pleasure and masturbation weren’t discussed. But when she came across an ad for warehouse work with adult-related material, she was intrigued. Soon after, she was hired and started in the Excitement Superstores warehouse, stickering DVDs. Goodling, who was dedicated and hard-working, eventually rose to the rank of warehouse manager. And then, at a store event, she met sex educator Ducky Doolittle, and her career trajectory changed. Goodling is now Excitement’s novelty and lingerie buyer, and eats, sleeps and breathes Excitement Superstores — and loves every minute.

SE: Going from a straight-laced bank job to an adult retail chain must have been quite a transition!

Goodling: Around the time I left banking, I came out as a lesbian, met my first woman partner, and had my first orgasm, which led to my desire to work around adult products. It was way different, but it all worked out.

I loved working in the warehouse and eventually managing it. After I met sex educator Ducky Doolittle at one of our store events, I decided I wanted to teach people about pleasure and to learn more about toys and my body, which I didn’t learn in school. I left the warehouse and took on the role of the company trainer, where my responsibilities included educating store employees on product knowledge and our bodies’ anatomy.

I started as Excitement’s part-time trainer (it wasn’t a full-time position) and later became the assistant toy buyer as well. As I attended tradeshows and gained recognition, I eventually became the toy buyer 10 years later, after the previous buyer left. A year ago, I also added lingerie buying. Though my title is buyer, I’m upper management, but like the rest of our upper management, I actively contribute to store operations, covering shifts as needed and ensuring smooth functioning. I enjoy being in the stores, spending minimal time in the office, typically only once or twice a week. I focus on engaging with customers, supporting staff, and understanding product dynamics on-site.

As I moved up, I was determined to make Excitement known in Central Pennsylvania and everywhere. I became very active on social media. My personal and work pages became the face of Excitement, and I can’t imagine doing anything else. I love traveling to tradeshows, seeing the top new products, meeting the manufacturers and sales reps.

Unlike in banking, I’ve never faced bias in the adult retail industry. Originally male-dominated, the landscape shifted when Susan Colvin, a woman, began creating toys in the ‘70s and ‘80s. Having Susan and Ducky as role models, I found my place at Excitement and felt a sense of belonging within this industry.

SE: What have been some of the high points of your career so far?

Goodling: One of the greatest highlights of my career was meeting Susan Colvin after a decade in the industry. In 2019, during a visit to CalExotics in Ontario, California, I met Susan and was tremendously impressed. I’m overjoyed that we’ve now become very close. Also, in 2020, I won my first industry award as a buyer. It was Account Executive of the Year, and I was very honored.

SE: What’s a typical workday for you?

Goodling: Each day brings new challenges – constant store presence, merchandising, email catch-up, calls to sales reps, staff interactions, and customer assistance. This week I’ll be in LA on a tradeshow panel discussing retail success with Kit Richardson from the Museum of Sex and other industry experts.

Owner David and buyer Loretta

SE: Tell us about the Excitement stores. What are your stores known for, and how have they evolved?

Goodling: We operate seven superstores, five focusing on adult products and two standalone smoke shops. Our owner David’s strategy is to offer an extensive range, competing directly with online retailers. Unlike many adult stores that are exiled to sketchy neighborhoods, the King of Prussia location near Philadelphia, which opened in the last two years, is strategically positioned across from one of the nation’s largest malls.

In the last decade, we’ve transformed our stores from old-school to women-and-couples-friendly spaces, involving significant efforts in-store, community engagement, and customer attraction. Most of our stores had arcades before; the last one was removed during Covid.

Our stores don’t have much competition. One of our stores is in York, Pennsylvania, which is close to the Maryland border. We have many customers drive from Maryland to York to buy our products.

SE: Tell us about some of your special in-store events. How do you use them to attract new customers?

Goodling: Pre-Covid, we hosted Ladies Nights, exclusive events with raffle prizes and sex educators. Since then, we transitioned to diverse events like couple’s nights, BDSM nights, community gatherings, and participation with a booth with product displays at Pride. We also do adult bingo.

SE: In your 15 years at Excitement, what changes have you witnessed in your stores and the industry at large?

Goodling: Battery-operated toys are decreasing, with a rise in rechargeable options. Bluetooth-compatible toys were rare initially but are now so prevalent and sophisticated that European cam girls can use toys in the US; it’s crazy.

Stores have transformed from darker DVD shops to elegant boutiques with a broader product range, including from many woman-owned companies. This shift is significant, allowing women to influence the production of toys tailored to their needs, avoiding designs by those unfamiliar with the user experience.

Customers are more conscious of what goes on or in their bodies. Our stores have evolved from sex stores to sexual health and wellness facilities, emphasizing high-quality products. We focus on environmentally friendly lubricants known for their ingredients.

“Unlike in banking, I’ve never faced bias in the adult retail industry. Originally male-dominated, the landscape shifted when Susan Colvin, a woman, began creating toys in the ‘70s and ‘80s. Having Susan and Ducky (Doolittle) as role models, I found my place at Excitement and felt a sense of belonging within this industry.”


– Goodling

SE: What are your two or three top-selling toy novelty brands?

Goodling: CalExotics is number one, followed by Doc Johnson and Le Wand.

SE: What about your two or three top-selling lubricants?

Goodling: Anything from Wicked sells well. Überlube is another top seller for us. And then System JO. They’ve been around for ages; we carry many of their brands.

SE: What kinds of toys will grab your attention at tradeshows?

Goodling: I’m looking for anything new that I haven’t seen before. I like toys that have multi-uses. And I look for brand. I prefer stocking reputable brands, and of course I look at price point because each store has different demographics and prices.

SE: With so many new products coming out, how do you sift through everything to ensure that your ROI is being realized?

Goodling: I strategically manage my system, considering slatwall as valuable space. If a toy isn’t selling well, I discontinue it, replacing it with a new one. I also transfer items between stores, a time-consuming process, but it enhances ROI. Rather than immediate discounting, I explore selling at full price in another store before considering discontinuation and discounting.

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

Goodling: The best part is the products and the people. Talking about sex education and pleasure with my staff and my customers is the most rewarding. Helping customers find pleasure when previously they might not have been comfortable asking for advice. I love trade shows. Picking out products to bring into the stores fulfills my soul.

The hardest part is just employee turnover. All of our upper management still covers shifts to keep the stores running. Turnover has been brutal since Covid. We’ve raised starting pay and added all the additional incentives we can. But sometimes, unfortunately, it’s still a problem.

We had an electrical fire just over a year ago, four days before Christmas 2022, that cost us two side-by-side stores for over a year. The Camp Hill smoke shop fire spread to the adjacent adult shop. We recently reopened the adult store; the smoke shop should open next month.

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