USA Today: “Sex shops infiltrate small towns”


Some people have wondered why Capital Video chose Northampton for a porn shop. A USA Today article from 2003 suggests a reason…

Until the 61-foot-tall sign appeared one morning along Interstate 70, no one from Abilene, Kan., knew that the former Stuckey’s truck stop just outside of town had been remade into an “adult superstore” that sells X-rated videos, lingerie and sex toys.

“It was a sneaky deal,” Karen McMillan, the county official in charge of zoning, says. “They came in in the middle of the night. We thought it was a boot outlet.”…

The rush to rural outlets has as much to do with zoning laws as anything else. Most small towns and counties do little more than segregate property into zones for residences, farms and businesses.

Larger cities tend to have more complex zoning regulations. They typically restrict adult businesses to back-corner industrial areas, the least desirable locations. Bigger cities usually have laws that specify hours of operation, restrict parking and regulate liquor licenses. As a result, businesses that trade in adult material or entertainment are setting up outside city limits, but still near lots of traffic.

“The cities have gone so crazy with zoning, it’s difficult to find places to open stores,” says Mark Kerns, a senior editor of Adult Video News. “Where else are they going to go but outside the city?”…

Abilene, a town of 6,500 where the largest employer is the Russell Stover candy factory, is prepared to pay almost any price to rid itself of the store. A town meeting wil be held tonight at the county fairgrounds to discuss options to force the store to close.

“We’re all steaming mad,” says Phil Cosby, a resident who is organizing opposition. “This county is not unwilling, nor afraid, to oppose this dangerous, addictive and increasingly violent industry…. This store slipped into this county under cover of secrecy and darkness, and we are going to turn the light on and expose them.”…

Read the complete article.

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