Thursday, June 7, 2018

June 2018 Blog

I don’t write a lot anymore since I do a weekly podcast but as half of 2018 is nearly over I thought I would sit down and talk about what is going on at Fantasy Gifts.
  We recently had a lovely seminar with Ducky DooLittle. She currently works for the Blush company, but she didn’t focus as much on the products as she did about how to talk to our customers about the products, their bodies plus she  spoke a lot about how we are helping people and all the good it does. It was so nice to hear that as the sexual health industry still has a negative perception with some folks, not as much anymore but still enough to have issues with social media sites and advertising and other things other businesses take for granted.
She was a wonderful ambassador for Blush and the industry in general and I am so very happy that she was able to talk to my staff and be a guest on the podcast which you can find here:

We have spent several months gearing up for a remerchandising of our Burnsville Fantasy Gifts, we decided to move the entrance door back to its original door but that meant flipping all the merchandise in the store, so I figured let’s update a bit too with new display areas too. We freshened up some of the paint and instore signage too. With the construction done on highway 13 the store is more visible, but Google maps says you are at the destination when you are still on the highway, we get phone calls asking how to get to us.  You need to exit onto county road 5 and then turn left at the light then left at the four way stop and go around the curve till you see the beige building with red trim, that’s us! We are working with google to fix this, but I don’t know how long that will take.
We updated our logo a bit to fit better into social media and online sites, an oval graphic was simple too small. Chose a simple font and colors that are easy to read and to have continuity across the internet, and print such as ads, business cards and other print.

We have decided to not have a booth at Pride this year, I’ll miss it because I’ll still be on a road trip with my kid and with other projects in the table we felt a year off would be the sane choice. It is one of my most favorite weekends I mean who doesn’t like happy people telling you they love your store!! I get hugs from complete strangers when my staff points me out, but it is also very exhausting. I wish everyone a wonderful Pride this year.

Colleen Bertino

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

A few hours ago I was searching for a kitchen faucet and was having a difficult time finding one without an integrated sprayer and in the color I wanted (white) I was at this showroom and even though I called ahead to see if they could help me when I got there another person said they were appointment only and even after I explained what was said to me earlier on the phone I was halfheartedly pointed in the direction of the kitchen faucets and left to wander. Most of the time I prefer that but not in places where you need information such as price finish, shipping times and so on. When I whined on social media a friend pointed me to another supplier and when I arrive was recognized by the salesperson that used to work at the place I bought from before but had gone out of business. He happily showed me several options and now I can’t make up my mind which one I want.

Why am I rambling on about a sink faucet? Well it made me think of what experiences the customers at Fantasy Gifts are having when they go into the stores. Are they greeted as though they matter and we are happy to see them? Are questions answered to the best of the salesperson ability? Are several options given or are our websites used as a reference? Are folks following policy when answering questions about our policies and products?  It really hit home again because I do think of this often how much I rely on the store employees to do the delicate work of sales in a business that it so personal. My long time employees both full and part time are really wonderful and although it is impossible to not have a bad apple here and there we try really hard to replace the person who just doesn’t fit in right. Sales is a tough job, you need to read people and figure out what they are really asking you need to know the merchandise and you can’t hover nor can you ignore. Add in that we sell very personal items and it gets even trickier. There are occasional mistakes  such as a clerk not following our return policy or saying something can be returned when it can’t and then everyone has a crappy day and no one is happy because a manager has to explain that a salesperson said something against policy and the customer feels bad because they were told false information and I feel bad because more than likely it means Fantasy Gifts has left a bad impression with a customer and in this day and age that can be on social media in seconds. We really do try and figure out the best thing to do for the customer, it wasn’t their fault they were told something wrong but it is never an easy or comfortable conversation.
We work really hard to have information about the products in the store for the sales staff so they can help the customers find what they are looking for, it is so much easier today with twice yearly seminars when the whole company gets together on a Sunday morning to meet with select vendors and occasional smaller Skype lessons with the individual stores.  Our podcast has wonderful information also with company reps and local professionals such as educators and therapists talking about product and the healthy uses of sexual health products.  (

What all this is about is that I hope to hear from you at if there are issues good or bad with your experiences with Fantasy Gifts and if they are positive I would be very grateful if they were shared with your friends when they are looking for personal toys and sexual health products. If you are very happy a great review on social media would be very much appreciated we have Facebook pages for all of the stores, Twitter, Yelp, Google +  over 40 social media sites for the Minnesota stores alone. Without you there wouldn’t be a Fantasy Gifts so thank you and of course thank you to my staff for all of the day to day hard work, couldn’t do it without then either.

Colleen Bertino

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

As I write this it is December 9th 2016 and as I get older the cliché that the years go faster is becoming the truth. Every day I wake up to my new cats attacking my feet and sitting on my chest explain that it is time to feed them and I pause for a moment to go over the days to do list in my head and what will be the same and what will be different.  Being in retail it is fun to see all the new items coming in for the holidays and trying to figure out where to put everything is a large game of pallet shifting Tetris that is the same, being a sponsor of a local event that is different.  Doing the Great Northern Sexcast every Tuesday has been wonderful and the more we do the larger the audience is becoming and the guests are always so much fun. I have learned so much about the amazing community of sex positive individuals in the Twin Cities and have learned that comprehensive sex education is still very lacking in all age groups. I look forward to learning more and hope you will join us and laugh and learn with us in 2017. Of course you can check out past episodes too, there are over 100 episodes now!
We have spent time upgrading not only the already wonderful selection of products at Fantasy Gifts but have upgraded the stores themselves, paint, slatwall, fixtures, windows and displays almost every store and the office too was spruced up. My sister said it best, I didn’t know how crappy the break room was until you replaced everything and painted. Our Burnsville and Coon Rapids Stores both have new Rabbit company displays and they are so pretty and have an expanded selection of product.
December 11th was our company wide seminar with representatives from The Rabbit Company, Screaming O, Wicked, Nu Sensualle, Doc Johnson , OxBalls , and  Rhythm vibes by Kama Sutra and Sportsheets. I learned that one of the store employees and can put on a harness faster than I ever thought possible and that Wickeds limited edition  holiday lube peppermint coco  is so very yummy We had a great time learning and eating as it was held at the Westin near our offices and they have great food and a wonderful staff and coffee lots of coffee which is important when you start at 8am on Sunday.
From all of us at Fantasy Gifts we wish you a lovely holiday season, a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year.


Friday, September 9, 2016

The summer is drawing to a close and over at Fantasy Gifts we are starting to get ready for the winter, are the shovels and scrapers ready to go, do we have enough salt? Oh the joys of retail in the north what projects like new floors or painting can we get done before the weather is so bad. Not fun stuff like having the company rep come from Blush and seeing the most beautiful anal plugs they are working on and hopefully getting the owner on the podcast. Blush is a wonderful company and they are building their catalog slowly which I love, no one can possibly keep up the way they would like to when hundreds of new sexual health products are created each year. I have said if I could figure out why product A sells better than product B when I think they are the same in quality, design and price point I could write a book on that and make zillions.

Fantasy Gifts will be at Crypticon in October and we have decided to make the prize wheel a charity wheel and many vendors are sending merchandise. It will cost a dollar to spin but you get a prize worth so much more. Wicked is sending several copies of their versions of Suicide Squad and Rocky Horror. We contacted a charity we would like to donate too but we are aware that they may say no so we have backups too that we can contact.  It can get weird in our culture when a store such as Fantasy Gifts wants to be a part of the community we are embraced by some and shunned by others. Folks that are cool with us are The City of Crystal and Lakeville, we sponsor games and banners in their cities celebrations and we sponsor a softball team of local police and firefighters in a city that isn’t thrilled we are there but the officers and firefighters are cool about it.

Our Podcast the Great Northern Sexcast has had lovely guests the past month and made new friends don’t miss out! Link below.

Thursday, July 7, 2016


Well after two years I finally got around to figuring out the concept of a newsletter,  we will be sending out information on new products, events and specials about once a month. You can sign up on the home page right around where you clicked on blog link. Don't worry about a ton of stuff coming from us, it took me two years to do the first one. Sign up in July and we will enter your name in a contest for a really nice gift basket.

The podcast is going well, here is link,

We had the most amazing Pride this year, it was so much fun, thank you to Justin and Joe for helping  us out and of course the staff simply rocks.

OVO is going to be 10% off on the website and in the Minnesota stores this month.

Ok going to get back to reading about SEO and how I can't do any of it because although you all love Fantasy Gifts the web does not and social media and google won't let me advertise, it's frustrating but just part of our industry.


Friday, May 6, 2016

May 2016 Blog

Hi everyone, Yes I know its’ been awhile since I wrote for this blog but with the weekly podcast many of the things I need to talk about get out there already.  I thought I would spend a few moments to update everyone on what is going on at Fantasy Gifts in Minnesota, I wrote Minnesota because some of you may already know that we have two stores in New Jersey but for those of you who didn’t and wonder why New Jersey ? This is why. My Dad is from Hammonton a wonderful little town half way between Atlantic City and Philadelphia and eons ago when he wanted to retire he didn’t go to Florida he went back to Jersey and promptly got bored and opened stores there. My Brother and his wife run them and they are great stores and they have their own website because South Jersey and Minnesota are very different in what folks shop for so each of our websites reflects the their brick and mortar stores personalities. 
Here is Minnesota we are getting ready for Pride on the last full weekend in June and this year we will have our largest booth yet and many of our vendors are sending special merchandise plan-o-grams and reps to work the booth with us. 
We have been remodeling many of our stores, St. Paul, Fridley, Bloomington, Burnsville, Crystal, and Lakeville.  New slatwall, paint, fixtures and lighting were installed as it was time to update with a new look and really focus on some of the great new brands we have.  We have new registers in the store too, the first time ever in almost 37 years of business that we have the exact same one in every store!  The new credit card chip readers have been in for 8 or so months I can’t believe how many other companies still don’t have them functioning yet.
If you haven’t visited recently we have also extended hours at all Minnesota locations.  We are open at 10 AM till 11PM Monday thru Saturday and Sunday from Noon to 8pm.  It has been great folks aren’t as rushed and our employees have more hours too.
We are also working on a monthly newsletter, you can sign up on the Fantasy Gifts Minnesota website and I promise it won’t be overwhelming emails.  We barley can maintain 35 plus social media sites but if you do sign up you will know what is new in merchandise at Fantasy Gifts, know what the product of the month is and be entered to win gift baskets and  be informed of other giveaways and promotions