Adam & Eve Store Can Stay in Florida

O’NEIL, Fla. – Adam & Eve’s store in Nassau County, the subject of community debate since before its opening in February, can stay in the unincorporated area of O’Neil, despite recent county regulations.

The store, which sells novelties, videos, lingerie and products from its own catalogue, was “grandfathered in” around regulations adopted last week prohibiting adult-oriented businesses from locating in certain areas.

The ordinance also requires employee background checks and prohibits the sale of alcohol and the display of live nudity.

The Adam & Eve store, which is the first of the North Carolina company’s franchises anywhere, neither displayed live nudity nor sold alcohol in this small community north of Jacksonville. First Amendment attorney Lawrence Walters told XBiz, “The religious right fought hard to stop the store from opening, but we prevailed in the end.”

Walters described the subsequent adoption of regulations as being tacked on.

“The community had no rules in place about adult businesses, and they could not make the recent ordinance retroactively applicable," he said.

Walters said he had been physically threatened during the public hearings, in which the store was described by religious leaders as “the serpent which needed to be driven from the garden of Nassau County,” but was encouraged that “pro-First Amendment protesters” countered the picketing of the store and would often give the store extra business.

“You had people coming in to buy things to spite the (anti-Adam & Eve) protesters,” he said.

Walters said that despite the protests, Adam & Eve’s choice to locate its first store in Nassau County was a business decision based on the large number of orders it received from the area.

Opponents of the store claim the ordinance, though it did not prevent the establishment from opening or continuing, was a victory for the town in that it makes it more difficult for adult businesses to locate in Nassau County.

“This is not over with," Robert Goyette, pastor of Living Waters World Outreach Center, said. "The county has done its part, but the people who opposed it still feel that way about this kind of business. It's not about the people who run it, it's about the nature of the business and what it brings into the community."