This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2008, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
PRICE - The business started in Vegas.
No surprise there, given what it is.
But the fact that it is thriving in a manly man town such as Price, is kind of shocking.
For "it" is - gird your loins - an Internet business that sells male chastity products.
That's right. Plastic hooter socks. In four sizes. Most are clear plastic, but some are black. One comes in hot pink. All are designed to keep a man chaste. Little locks assure that.
"Some people get a kick out of it. Some people think it's appalling. I can't believe they sell so many," said Carla TryonÂ, one of six employees of AL Enterprises, which occupies a nondescript building on Carbon Avenue in Price.
But sell they do, said 65-year-old Doris Miller, who owns the business with husband Frank. He came up with the idea after growing weary of seeing some workmates become playboys on business trips.
"I can't tell you how many are out there," she said, "but I can tell you thousands and thousands of men are wearing these."
Not in Price, maybe. But Europe? You bet.
"Our products are sold all over the world," said Annette Bigelow, AL Enterprises's administrative assistant, citing business relationships with more than 70 wholesalers from the United Kingdom and the Czech Republic to Australia and Canada.
"In European countries where they're open to sex, this is kind of a toy," she added. "But 90 percent of U.S. sales deal with severe masturbation problems or an unfaithful spouse."
Those aren't the kind of phrases usually found in a fairy tale story of a man and a woman falling in love at a high school reunion and then returning to their roots. But that's exactly what happened here.
Doris and Frank graduated together from East Carbon High School and then went their separate ways. But 14 years ago, they went to a reunion, single people once again, and hit it off big time. They married, forming a family with 13 grandchildren, and established a home in Las Vegas, where Frank had been the U.S. equipment manager for a Japanese engineering company that specialized in tunnel and subway work.
A couple of years later, Doris recalled, the Millers were sitting around when Frank told her, " 'I've got an idea. Don't say anything until I finish talking.' Frank is a thinker and kind of quiet, so I said OK."
That's when Frank laid out his plan.
"He'd gotten tired of going with his business employees to different locations, and the minute they got there, the ring came off," she said. "He hates to see divorce happen and the children suffer. He's a very compassionate man and he looked to do what we [could] to keep couples together."
Frank started building prototypes of his concept at home, heating plastic in the oven and bending the pieces into shapes that would fit the male anatomy. He tried them on, found where they were uncomfortable, and redesigned them. Several times.
Eventually, his product reached a point where Doris became convinced that "you've got something there. We said, 'Let's quit our jobs, take February off and make this fly or die.' "
Fly they did. AL Enterprises hired a subcontractor that could mass produce molded plastic parts, said Doris, who took pictures of the product and wrote descriptions of how it worked. "We hired a college kid to get our Web site onto the Internet and we started getting hits," she added. "Almost overnight, we started getting swamped with orders."
But tiring of Las Vegas, the Millers yearned for the lifestyle offered by Price. "This is home to us and we came home," said Doris.
Run by Doris's daughter, Christi, AL Enterprises had no trouble getting a city business license or, later, receiving City Council approval to move into the building on Carbon Avenue.
"They haven't been very visible in our community," said Price Mayor Joe Piccolo. "They went through permitting pretty smoothly and, as I recall, there weren't any negative comments from surrounding neighbors or businesses. . . . But they've obviously been successful. They had no problem financing that building purchase. That surprised me in itself, that they were so successful with such a limited product."
Still, Piccolo doesn't get it. "We're talking about something I don't understand. Most people are embarrassed to ask, 'What is this?' I haven't even seen the product. But I have kind of laughed and said to myself, 'This is rural Utah?' ''
Office assistant Bigelow said the business has done everything the city requested. Nothing sexy is displayed. The products are in boxes on typical warehouse shelving. The blinds are closed at night. But sometimes, she added, "people stop by and ask, 'What do you do here?' If an older person hears [the answer], they're right out the door."
A frank talker who expects to see listeners blush, Bigelow knows the business intimately from handling customer service calls.
"Most European countries are into freedom, they're into bondage, more personal variations," she said. But in the United States, "sometimes they're ordered by women for their husbands and boyfriends. Most of the time it's to help control someone who has a problem with pornography."
Often philanderers consent to wear one as a last recourse before divorce. "Usually, the man is forced into this," Bigelow said. "It's not until he's put into one of these that he is asking himself what he's gotten himself into."
The first couple of months of wearing the unit "can be rough," she acknowledged, often recommending adjustments to make them fit more comfortably. She also offers tips on keeping them clean. "We recommend that men sit down to pee. Men don't like that. I say you're not getting any sympathy from me or any other woman."
She will explain how plastic locks are available so wearers won't have to do a show-and-tell at an airport security check if a metal lock set off alarms. But Bigelow never makes recommendations on size.
"The [mid-range] 3000 is the hottest seller. People order them a thousand at a time," she said. The 6000 "doesn't prevent customers who are physically active from continuing. You can ride bikes, wearing tight briefs or Spandex, so you don't have to jingle around. It just makes you look more well endowed."
AL Enterprises has nothing for women, however. "You have to have testicles to use our product," Bigelow said.
Male chastity products
Price-based AL Enterprises sells four lines of plastic male chastity products over the Internet. They are:
* CB 2000: For smaller-sized males, in black and hot pink - $129.95
* CB 3000: For average-sized males, clear and jet black - $169.95
* CB 6000: For larger males, clear - $189.95
* The Curve: Clear - $169.95
* Information: Go to http://www.CB-2000.com