Racy items have Spencer’s in trouble with Rapid City, SD

from www.rapidcityjournal.com – The Spencer’s store at Rushmore Mall may have to stop selling some of its racier toys and gifts or register as an adult business.

The novelty gift store is under pressure from the city to comply with regulations approved by voters in 2003 to license the operations of establishments that sell sex-related merchandise.

The city attorney’s office sent a letter last week to Spencer Gifts LLC giving the New Jersey-based company 30 days to apply for an adult-oriented business license for the Rapid City store or remove the problem merchandise.

According to assistant City Attorney Joel Landeen the ordinance states said stores can sell adult merchandise without being licensed as long as it’s not a “substantial or significant portion of its stock” and there’s no “emphasis on matter depicting, describing or relating to specified sexual activities or specified anatomical areas.”

Spencer’s adult merchandise selection meets that threshold for being an adult store, Landeen said. “There’s clearly an emphasis on it. It’s the presentation and the volume,” Landeen said.

The store’s back corner features floor-to-ceiling displays of sex toys, games, dolls and other adult merchandise.

The rest of the store includes T-shirts, hats, posters, drinking games and shot glasses, adult birthday cards, lingerie and books.

But Kevin Mahoney, general counsel for Spencer Gifts LLC, said the company carries the same merchandise, including “massagers,” at all 600 stores across the country without incident.

“The ordinance that is in Rapid City is an ordinance that’s commonly found in all of the cities we’re in, but we’ve never been deemed to be an adult business,” Mahoney said.

“We do not carry a sufficient amount to meet the definition of an adult business. We carry a broad range of items.”

On the store’s Web site, www.spencersonline.com, adult items cannot be viewed without first confirming that the viewer is at least 18 years of age. If the viewer clicks no, he or she is bounced back to the site’s home page.

Mahoney said Spencer’s intends to work with the city on the issue, but it doesn’t expect to remove the merchandise or apply for an adult-oriented business license.

Spencer’s has been at the mall since 1979 and has carried “some small assortment” of adult-themed gifts that whole time, Mahoney said. All stores have an advisory posted to make customers aware of the adult content inside.

“We’re not an adult business,” Mahoney said.

If required to register, Spencer’s would have to abide by the same rules as other adult novelty and video stores in town, Landeen said.

The annual license is $100, and no one under the age of 18 would be permitted in the store.

Shoppers at the mall Monday expressed mixed feelings about the store’s adult merchandise. One mother said she lets her young children go into the store with her but steers them away from the back corner.

Andre Reber, 25, works at one of the kiosks near Spencer’s and said he doesn’t mind it selling adult toys. But employees should be more careful about who can access them. He guessed that 90 percent of the store’s shoppers are under 18.

“They need to be more discrete about it,” Reber said. “They need to figure out a way to put a limit on ages going in there. You don’t see a 12-year-old walking into Video Blue.”

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