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Business License Fuck Up for Platinum Palace

Hattiesburg, Mississippi- When Lorinda and Anthony Chapman opened Platinum Palace recently, they were hoping to run a low-key but reputable adult store and stay away from public attention.

But a mistake with their business license could prevent them from selling the adult novelty items that are the backbone of their business plan.

“We thought we were providing a clean, classy place for mature adults to buy things like marital aids and lingerie, but now we’re running into all this opposition,” Lorinda Chapman said.

The couple applied for a business license that lists the store as a clothing and novelty items retail store and the license was approved on July 1. That same day, they signed the lease on an approximately 1,000-square-foot storefront in a 2415 W. Fourth St. strip mall.

They invested their savings in remodeling the interior, painting walls and putting in new carpet before stocking their shelves.

But after city code enforcement officers inspected the store they said the items being sold were not allowed in the community business district in which the strip mall is located.

The city officials ordered the couple to remove $11,000 in controversial merchandise that accounts for about 60 percent of the store’s sales, but they were allowed to continue selling lingerie, clothing and other merchandise, Lorinda Chapman said.

On Wednesday, the couple will ask the planning commission for a change to a regional business zoning classification and a special permit to allow them to operate an adult entertainment business.

But zoning changes within community business districts are not typically looked favorably on by the planning commission.

Lorinda Chapman said the business fits in with the character of the neighborhood. It is located near two pool hall bars and a convenience store that sells pipes marketed for smoking tobacco but more commonly used for smoking marijuana.

The Chapmans, who moved here from Florida a year ago, think their business can help revitalize the neighborhood.

“I’ve been here a year now and I’ve seen businesses, both private and corporate owned, moving out to U.S. 98 while a lot of stores in these neighborhoods are empty,” Lorinda Chapman said.

“I decided, why not help the community?”

Councilman Kim Bradley, who investigated the matter at the request of the business owners, said he thinks the city made an honest mistake in allowing the couple to locate their business there.

“The way I understand it, she got a business license and said she would sell novelty items and when they (city officials) saw the novelty items were of a sexual nature, they asked her to remove them,” he said.

If the planning commission recommends denying the request, Bradley said City Council could look into the situation further.

“I think it was an honest mistake; they just didn’t fully understand what she was selling,” Bradley said.

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