Business remained sluggish initially; few customers followed the first client. Every day, Wen went through the phone book looking up and calling media organizations to tell them he had opened a shop selling sex products. Finally, only the Beijing Youth Daily promised to come to "take a look".
The report based on "the look" was published on February 13, 1993. It was a brief down-page item that merely said, "China's first shop selling sex products has opened. The shop is located before the gate of the People's Hospital. Its general manager Wen Jingfeng is a man of about 30."
But the piece started a rampage. The next day the French news agency AFP sent reporters to the shop, and in the following two weeks it was thronged by a constant stream of reporters – from Spain's La Agencia EFE, China Central Television, China Central People's Broadcasting Station, Japan's Asahi Shimbun, The Times of London, South China Morning Post, Washington Post, New York Times, CNN, etc. "I often spent more than ten hours in a row everyday facing camera flashlights," Wen remembered.
The overseas media described it as a landmark in the process of China's reform and opening to the outside world. "The shop was swarming with people for some time. It was as crowded as a Chinese railway station during the Spring Festival holidays. Most of the visitors were filled with curiosity," Wen recalled.
"One of my friends worked in a nearby office building at that time. He and his colleagues often came to my shop to gloat over our stock during the noon break," he said. There was no lack of people who went on a long journey to learn from the experiences, too. The flourishing business even gave impetus to the business of the neighboring restaurant selling steamed stuffed buns.
Actually, the commodities sold in the Adam & Eve Health Center at that time weren't rare at all. Condoms accounted for quite a large part of sales. Other commodities included "aphrodisiacs" and test reagents. "What caused a great uproar were not the sex products themselves in those days, but the concept that sex products could be centralized and shown in an exclusive agency for sale, and moreover, customers could get guidance from shop attendants," the Beijing Youth Daily analyzed.
Wen said that it was not until 1999 that condoms became commodities in a real term. Previously, the State Family Planning Commission administered their distribution. It was also the country's only institution handling their unified purchase. In 1999, the State Drug Administration launched a system of credentials for condom production and sale. By 2005, any enterprises could enter the trade by registering with the State Administration of Industry and Commerce.
"It is now commonplace for Chinese people to choose condoms in supermarkets in a natural and poised way," said Wen. "It has taken 12 years for China's sex product market to go from nothing to total marketization."
Wen was born in Beijing. He graduated from the China University of Political Science and Laws and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in the early 1980s, worked for a government institution, but quit to go into business in 1985, working for others for a while in order to gain experience.
In his recently published book Forbidden Fruit 1993 – My Sex Shop and I, Wen revealed that his inspiration was a French film in which a "Sex Shop" formed the backdrop. "In those early days, my business experienced tremendous difficulties," he said. "I still remembered the graffiti on my shop windows with such words as 'hooligans' and 'pornography shop' in the early days. What I had to do was to erase them and carry on.
"I was told that the local anti-pornography campaign department also sent policemen to the shop secretly, but they didn't interfere.
"Of course, there were people who helped me too," Wen said. He jokingly observed: "As the old Chinese saying goes, gossips always cluster around a widow's house. The widow is weak, but there is always someone willing to show sympathy for the weak. As more people showed sympathy and helped the weak, they gained a firmer foothold in the world."