HOLLYWOOD, Fla. - JT's Stockroom founder Joel Tucker helmed an Internext seminar that covered novelty-business Web basics and shared some of the secrets to his success. Tucker, who said he has been on the front line of e-commerce since the Internet's conception, owns an online fetish store that is one of the most respected and profitable in its niche.
"I got started back in 1988, when I was 21 years old," he said. "I went to a store to buy some bondage gear with my girlfriend. Unfortunately, the gear turned out to be far more expensive than I had anticipated. Luckily for me, my girlfriend had taken a leather-working class and suggested we make our own. As soon as I started making my own gear, I realized everything was cheaper by the gross. I decided to make more [and] sell some, and that was really the birth of my business. I had friends volunteer to model and take pictures in order to make a catalog."
Tucker said he wrote a brief press release for his catalog, and a friend urged him to create a text version of the catalog to distribute by e-mail. The bandwidth at the time couldn't support pictures, Tucker said, so he wrote the catalog using engaging, descriptive language that was honest and clear. The response was overwhelming, he said, but the early days of Internet credit-card transactions and e-commerce were a challenging obstacle.
"There were a couple of clients who were bold enough to place orders and responded positively to the products, which helped to percolate more business," Tucker said. "There was great potential, and we were gaining momentum. The activity was there and it was growing, and it has been growing ever since."
He said the business started small and didn't have many investors, but he found tremendous help in the advent of digital photography and increases in memory and storage capacity.
"We attained a good Web presence in '95, and in '96, we attained our full-scale Web commerce," Tucker said. "Our company has grown every year - 50 to 100 percent in good years. Our affiliate system is up and running, and we're experiencing robust success. It has all come from lots of trial and error."
When Tucker started his company, he wanted it to be tasteful with value and quality, which he said the adult industry largely lacked in its infancy. However, he said, times have changed and there now are plenty of worthy partners to affiliate with and trade traffic."I started out thinking I'd let adult do its own thing and I would do mine, but I have grown to love the industry as a whole and have found respectable peers in which to interact with," Tucker said. "There was no Internext back when I started, and now there are over 2000 attendees in which to share ideas and possibilities with. Competition is healthy and has always been an inspiration to me."