At one time or another most young women have dreamed of planning their very own fairytale wedding. The stunning white dress, extravagant flower arrangements, five-tiered cake and dream location are all near the top of the priorities list. So, apparently, is the age-old tradition known as the bachelorette party, the bride-to-be’s final girls’ night out (or in) as a single woman.
“Weddings, engagement parties, bridal showers—these events are exciting,” says Jamie Trump, 30, a veteran of more than 12 bachelorette parties. “But it’s all about the next chapter in your life: being married. At the same time, a girl can’t forget to celebrate herself, and a bachelorette party is one of the last times to do that, to celebrate you as a single woman with all your best girlfriends.”
Cyndi Lauper may have said it best with the ’80s hit “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.” And according to industry leaders, women are ready and willing to go to great lengths to accomplish just that, pulling out all the stops on party night.
“All of the new products now available for the bachelorette party definitely have increased the fun factor,” says Rick Georges, president of Georges Fun Factory, an industry leader in bachelorette party supplies, gifts and favors. “I’ve seen many articles on this wild behavior at bachelorette parties, and I’ve also seen it firsthand for myself whenever I see a bachelorette party out for the night. It is true, girls just gotta have fun.”
A proper send-off can include a wide variety of items, from the tame to the tantalizing. “Some of the fun things we’ve had and done,” Trump says, “were things like a piñata filled with sexy items for the bride. Or we’ve had all the girls wear black or hot pink when we’re going out together. Some girls have served drinks with sexy names, like Blow Jobs and Slippery Nipples. The bride-to-be needs something a little extra special so she stands out—the night is about her, after all.”
Even during a time that has forced many to cut back on some of life’s essentials, customers are still spending big bucks on bachelorette party supplies, picking up everything from balloons and buttons to 30-inch inflatable Willies.
And despite trying economic times, retailers like Sex World and manufacturers like Georges Fun Factory, Hott Products Unlimited and Eldorado Trading Company have continued to succeed.
“We have weathered the economy fairly well,” says Travis Farnham, general manager of Minneapolis-based Sex World. “We are a bit more conscientious about the products that we carry, and we track sales regularly and only carry items that sell. But we are still going strong, and I’d say the two largest factors are our name and the fact that we are a spectacle of sorts, not just an adult store. We have been referred to as ‘a right of passage for Minnesotans.’ ”
Georges agrees that while money may be tight, some things cannot be forgotten on party night. “Although we are in a tough economy, everyone seems to still need an inflatable Willie. We mainly sell to stores, but generally those orders seem to be in the same dollar range as they have always been. Our first eight years were continual growth. Then we saw a lot of competition enter the market, resulting in flat sales. Our customer service and fun products have allowed us to compete in what is now a very competitive segment of the party industry. We’ve had to limit the number of new products we offered this year, but we believe that’s a temporary move and we’re doing well overall.”
Hott Products Unlimited Vice President Chris Post notes that even with a sagging economy his company has still seen “substantial gains.”
“And the future looks even brighter,” Post says. “We feel this can only be attributed to our constant attention to detail with both our creative innovations and consistently affordable pricing. We have been blessed during these hard times, and we respect and appreciate all of our loyal customer support.”
Another area that may be directly attributed to the economy is in the items that are and are not carried by many of the more “mainstream” stores. Stores that refuse to carry such items as flashing penis pens, veils or tiaras could be missing out on major returns, say some industry experts. “I think the more mainstream stores are taking a much harder look at this, especially in these hard economic times,” Post says. “They’re starting to rethink the way they do business, and also what items they carry. And yes, if they don’t carry these types of items, they are definitely missing the boat.”
According to Post, women are the driving force behind both the huge rise in more fun and innovative items and the trend toward stores becoming more couples-friendly in their presentation and marketing.
For some women, shopping for a bachelorette party serves as good cover for picking up a few items for themselves.
“We get groups of women that come in to make purchases for bachelorette parties,” Farnham says. “And more often than not, when groups of women come in for bachelorette or party items, they also tend to purchase some things for themselves as well. Some of them may use the party as a good excuse to come in and shop, something they wouldn’t do if they were alone.”
What’s the one thing that every bachelorette party must have?
“Maybe No. 1 is the veil,” Georges says. “That says it all right there. She is definitely the bachelorette when she wears a veil. Number two, I would say is the scavenger hunt dare shirt, because the entire party has fun all night long helping her complete the list of dares and also creating a memorable keepsake that everyone signs for her to treasure.” And last but not least? “Of course an inflatable Willie adds an enormous amount of fun to the evening too.”
Hott Products Unlimited offers its Bachelorette/Girls’ Night Out party kit, which serves 10 girls and is among the company’s most popular items. Hott Products also sells the first-of-its-kind Party Pecker Disposable Cake Pans and the 12-inch Jumbo Flexible Dicky Super Straws, another first.
“We have a large array of popular bachelorette items,” Post says. “Combine that with our intense detail to provide upscale, fun packaging as well as rock-bottom pricing, and Hott Products is fast gaining a reputation as a competitive leader in the industry for both innovation and Walmart-style pricing. Women want to be catered to and paid attention to, and if you pay close attention to all aspects of manufacturing, packaging and product performance, you will have their attention and your overall sales will reflect accordingly.”
With innovative, new products readily available every year, it appears the fun-meter will only continue to rise.
“Tiaras and veils are the most popular,” says Larry Garland, president of Eldorado Trading Company, a world leader in wholesale adult toys since 1974. “Ceiling décor, party banners and party tape are among the top sellers, too, with balloons a strong second. Serving items like straws and cocktail sippers with Hott Products Party Pecker Straws are also some of our strongest sellers. And both the 12-inch and 24-inch inflatable Willies from Georges are very popular too. The bachelorette market has come a long way, and we have grown our selection to match it.”
Just a few of the top sellers for Georges Fun Factory include the Bachelorette Scavenger Hunt T-Shirt, the previously mentioned inflatable Willies, and the Willie piñata.
“The T-shirt has always been our best-selling product,” Georges says. “We offer a lot of fun Willie products that are consistently among our top 10 sellers, including our 12-inch and 24-inch inflatable Willies, a new 30-inch brown Willie, Willie-shaped name tags and our Willie piñata, to name a few. Veils, spinner buttons, balloons, shot glasses, our dare card game and unique napkin trivia game also are a few of the other products filling out the top 10. We also offer a fun bachelor line of products that does very well too.”
At Sex World, popular items include stripper poles, strap-on penises, the Red Hot Rabbit Pearl, Screaming Os, the Lube Shooter, penis straws, lubes, tiaras, corsets, “Last Night Out” T-shirts, penis cake pans and cookie cutters, among others.
“Bachelorette season is never over for us,” Farnham says. “I haven’t noticed much of a difference in what and how much women are buying these days, but I am starting to see women purchase more videos and fetish/bondage products. They’re starting to be more vocal and less shy in regard to the types of toys they like or dislike and explaining why. And I didn’t see so much of that a few years back.
“I’d also say they’re being more cautious of what they are spending—who isn’t these days?” he continues. “But that doesn’t stop them from buying the items they want. I think that the party scene has changed a bit and people have fewer hang-ups about sex and sexuality now.”
And while the night of no inhibition is geared to focus all attention on the bachelorette, her entourage cannot be forgotten in the fun.
“We try to make unique products that will create an unforgettable last night out for the bachelorette as well as her bachelorette party,” Georges says. “We want the entire party to have a blast, and, of course, we also like the products that embarrass the bachelorette.”
With customer service being an industry must, Georges prides himself on filling every order, no matter how large, small or outrageous.
“We have absolutely no minimum-size order, which allows smaller companies to try a variety of our products, with very little risk,” Georges says. “We are more concerned with making the customer happy than with making sure we make a profit on every order. If a customer wants to order one veil, we will sell them one veil, and we will lose money on the order. But we have made the customer happy.”
This article originally appeared in the September 2009 issue of AVN Magazine.