Adults-only Plan Would Put Limits on Spencer’s Gifts

May 28, 2009 7:00 AM PST
SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine — Condoms, sex toys and adult-themed novelties have some shoppers steaming at the suburban Maine Mall.

The complainants are targeting the local Spencer’s Gifts, which sells sex toys along with T-shirts, candles, Deep Throat shot glasses and the Carmen Electra Professional Pole Dance Kit.

The Maine Mall has more than 140 tenants, including the anchors Filene's and Macy's.

After hearing complaints, including a South Portlander who said he was offended after he stumbled upon the store's selection of sex-related products, the City Council is weighing whether it should alter its ordinances.

Following months of talks involving police, city officials and lawyers for Spencer’s Gifts, the city has decided on a plan.

City leaders are proposing to narrow the city's definition of adult business and require businesses like Spencer's Gifts to alert parents about possible sex toys and novelties at the back of the store.

South Portland’s plan also would change the definition of an adult amusement store,from one that stocks or sells a "substantial or significant" number of "sexual devices," to one that counts sex toys as more than 10 percent of its stock or sales.

For Spencer’s Gifts, that amounts to a prohibition of anyone younger than 18 from entering the store. And the change would make Spencer’s Gifts the only business in the city subject to an adult business license.

Spencer’s Gifts counsel, however, contends the company is being targeted at a time when pharmacies and supermarkets stock condoms and lubricants in plain view of customers.

They also questioned whether, under the city's current guidelines, many other retailers would need adult business licenses.

"Many mainstream retailers are carrying these products," said Kevin Mahoney, attorney for New Jersey-based Spencers Gifts.

City Council will discuss the issue again, as early as Monday, before scheduling a vote.

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