Spencer Gifts latest shop to be scrutinized by Henderson over adult merchandise

Henderson is investigating Spencer Gifts to see if the amount of adult-themed merchandise that vibrates, lubricates, binds and titillates makes the location closer to being an adult novelty business than an all-ages retail location.

City spokesman Bud Cranor said the business license investigation into Spencer’s at the Galleria at Sunset mall was opened when a complaint was filed in early May, but he did not state if the complaint came from a customer or another party.

“City officials recently visited the store and are in the middle of their investigation,” Cranor said. “Outcome is yet to be determined.”

The majority of its merchandise ranges from T-shirts to posters to lava lamps and other party novelty items, with the selection of adult novelty items in the back left corner. The store is not age-restricted to enter.

Kevin Mahoney, New Jersey-based Spencer’s vice president and general counsel, said he was unaware of a business license investigation ongoing in Henderson.

The Henderson store, on the mall’s second floor across from the food court, has three sections of display wall in the back dedicated to showcasing vibrators, sex toys, dance poles, lotions, lingerie and various adult novelty items. Mahoney said many of the items are packaged in the same way that is found in most of the national pharmacies.

“We display them in a reasonable, responsible manner in the back section of the store,” Mahoney said. “We put an advisory sign in the front entrance of our store letting our guests know that we sell adult humor and content as we have for the last 40 years.”

Spencer Gifts positions itself on its website as a novelty business that is a “mall destination for entertainment, excitement and fun” and “offering unique product for the lifestyle of our core 18-24 year old guests, always inspired by humor and irreverence.”

Henderson city code states, in part, an “adult novelty business” has “a significant portion of its stock and trade those products known generally as … adult novelties and gifts, bedroom accessories, party favors, lotions, creams, body paint, condoms, and aromatic products which are characterized by an emphasis for use during sexual conduct or with specified anatomical areas.”

The code is meant “to protect the well-being of the youth of the community from objectionable operational characteristics of these adult uses by regulating and restricting their close proximity to established certain facilities such as, but not limited to, religious assemblies, parks, schools and residential areas.”

The Spencer’s location was investigated three years ago after a complaint of “racy material being displayed in their windows” was filed with the city, Cranor said. Henderson officials visited the store and expressed concern about the “amount of material available,” but received cooperation from the store.

“The material on display was removed and a subsequent follow-up visit to the store determined that they had also reduced the overall percentage of the provocative materials and no other action was taken,” Cranor said.

While Mahoney was unaware of an open license investigation, he said Henderson officials had visited the store while looking into the licensing of another retail business.

Las Vegas-based The Love Store was denied a business license in April to open a store on North Stephanie Street near Warm Springs Road. The business was deemed “sexually oriented” and not allowed at that location. The complex borders a residential neighborhood.

The Love Store attorney Clyde DeWitt said last week that Spencer’s could qualify as “sexually oriented” under the city’s vague definition of “significant portion” of inventory or sales being adult novelties.

Mahoney said the company responds immediately when there are public concerns about a store’s inventory. He added that a sexually oriented ordinance similar to Henderson’s is in nearly every jurisdiction the company operates its nearly 600 stores.

“We’ve never been deemed to be a sexually oriented business,” Mahoney said. “We do not carry significant amounts of merchandise of that nature that would trigger application of that ordinance.”

The company has stores at the Meadows Mall in Las Vegas and in Reno.

Contact Arnold M. Knightly at aknightly@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3882. Find him on Twitter: @KnightlyGrind.