BC-LR-BACHELORETTES:FR – lifestyle (600 words)

Bachelorettes get a new online store

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By Tim Sheehan and Sanford Nax
McClatchy Newspapers
For years, Carole Gostanian operated the popular Penny Candy bookstore in Fresno, Calif., where the eclectic inventory of bikini-girl and 1970s-era-band posters, T-shirts, kitschy ties, gag gifts and smoking paraphernalia was discreetly augmented by “adult accessories” including appliances and apparatus of various shapes, sizes and colors.
Now Gostanian, 74, hopes to catch the growing wave of e-commerce with a new Web site, www.bacheloretteparty.com, offering both nice and naughty bachelorette-themed party items.
“Games, gifts and gags for brides and grooms celebrating their ‘last night of freedom’ have become a modern prewedding tradition,” Gostanian said. She said the Web site is a convenient way for bridesmaids or party organizers to order supplies, plan events and arrange for flowers, limos and other related services.
The site includes a resources page with party suggestions for themes including Christian, Hispanic, “green” or same-sex relationships.
Gostanian’s inner promoter has high hopes for grabbing a piece of the online marketplace. She has written to Oprah Winfrey’s producers to pitch hosting a bachelorette party for an audience member on Winfrey’s popular TV talk show and providing gift bags for the audience.
The Web site is a natural extension of Penny Candy. “Penny Candy was one of the first stores in America selling and producing bachelorette party merchandise like cups, games, posters and T-shirts, and that lasted into the 1990s,” Gostanian said. “It’s not an X-rated site.”
Gostanian showed off one example, a party game based on a cartoon poster of a naked man. Think of it as a grown-up version of “pin the …” – well, you know.
“When women have a bachelorette party, they play silly games like this and stuff,” she said. “They’re not like the guys; they don’t get a keg and a stripper.”
Gostanian has owned the bacheloretteparty.com domain name for 11 years, but took the site live just last month in collaboration with a pair of Colorado companies, adult-novelty wholesaler Eldorado Trading Co. and Tool Studios, a Web development company.
“We go back a number of years with Carole,” said Eldorado Trading owner Larry Garland, whose company was one of Gostanian’s suppliers for Penny Candy as well. “She’s a great lady. It’s always a treat to work with her.”
Garland said sales of bachelorette party products – cups and plates, veils, tiaras, feather boas, T-shirts, games and mildly naughty party favors such as phallic lollipops or straws – “has really taken off over the last five years and become extremely popular.”
Rather than explicit or raunchy sex toys, the bachelorette market is more for “the fun, slightly risque items,” Garland said. “It’s all about a girls’ night out, a bride’s final ‘fling before the ring.”‘
Of more than 11,000 different adult products Garland’s company distributes, nearly 1,000 are in the bachelorette party lines. “It’s growing faster than any other segment of our business,” he said.

(c) 2009, The Fresno Bee (Fresno, Calif.).

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