Good Vibrations announces merger
by Heather Cassell
Good Vibrations received an early holiday present when it announced a merger with General Video of America and Trans World News this week.
Signatures haven't marked the dotted line of the multi-million dollar deal, according to Theresa Sparks, chief executive officer of Good Vibrations, but cases of sex toys poured into Good Vibrations' stores just in time for the Folsom Street Fair last week, according to Sparks, board vice chair Carol Queen, and Rondee Kamins, CEO of GVA-TWN.
Neither company would provide specifics about the financial deal, but both executives were very excited about the merger.
"I like to call it a partnership between the two of us," said Kamins. "Because everything that Good Vibrations is GVA isn't and everything GVA is Good Vibrations isn't. Together we are a perfect fit."
What is even better for Good Vibrations is the fact that GVA-TWN is woman-owned and very interested in taking the sex-positive message national.
Bay Area Reporter she worked for GVA-TWN for 25 years before buying the company in 2003. She purchased GVA-TWN, a Cleveland-based wholesaler and distributor of adult merchandise, from her father, Melvin Kamins, who owned the adult novelty company for nearly 20 years. GVA-TWN has been in business since the late 1950s. The predominantly male focused sex toy distributor owns and operates an estimated 50 retail stores in five states: Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, West Virginia, and Indiana, as well as its PEcash online stores.
"Good Vibrations' brand is such a positive for women, couples, gay males – I just think that there is so much, there is so much that we could do," said Kamins, who was already familiar with Good Vibrations when the opportunity for the merger arose. "I think that what they have now is great, but I think that we can expand it even more."
On the edge
Sparks and Queen admitted that when they announced that they were looking for investors last month, that the company was on the brink of closing its doors. They couldn't restock merchandise.
"Obviously, we didn't tell people all that," said Sparks.
"We were very happy to see some cases of toys come flowing through the door this last half of the week," said Queen. "We were so concerned that we wouldn't be able to stock up enough for the Folsom weekend and of course É the holiday season is right around the corner."
In an unusual move last month, Good Vibrations posted a letter to its Web site alerting customers to the company's need for investors in order to compensate for a steep decline in online sales. Good Vibrations experienced a 50 percent loss in its Web sales, according to the letter, which pulled it off track of sales projections that had been estimated at $13.9 million this year. In 2006, according to the letter, Good Vibrations' sales were an estimated $11.9 million.
Faced with competition from Amazon.com, Drugstore.com and other online retailers, Good Vibrations was faced with making tough decisions.
Those bold moves seem to have paid off.
Sparks told the B.A.R. that none of Good Vibrations' management or staff will change. In fact employees, who are shareholders, cashed in with getting "10 to 20 times what they paid" for their shares in the company.
"We are thrilled to death," said Sparks. "Not only will they have the guarantee that no employee will lose their job, but [GVA-TWN] also want[s] to take the training and marketing piece and take over the entire [operation]."
Customers should be happy to know that due to the merger, Sparks said, they will have a much broader selection of sex toys, lube, and other products to tickle them pink.
"Our people stood by us," said Sparks. "Our customers came out of the woodwork to support us. That was really touching and gratifying and now we will be able to return the offer and be able to offer a much wider selection in product. It's all good."
Full disclosure: Heather Cassell was the publicity assistant for Down There Press, the publishing arm for Good Vibrations, from 1999 to 2001, and she occasionally writes for the Good Vibrations magazine.