Las Vegas Suburb Not Showing Love to 'The Love Store'

HENDERSON, Nev. — A Las Vegas suburb is not showing any love to The Love Store, part of a chain looking to open its doors in the bedroom community.

A business licensing dispute is boiling up before the City Council on June 3 to determine if the shop is a legitimate retail location or a sex shop barred under city code.

The proposed 8,500 square-foot store would be the third such location in the greater Las Vegas area.

Adult attorney Clyde Dewitt told the Las Vegas Review Journal that the operators simply want to know what products they’re allowed to carry beyond lingerie, footwear, clothing, bedroom linens, candles and lotions. No sales of DVDs are planned.

But Henderson spokesman Bud Cranor said the city knows the rules and no clarification is necessary, citing a number of complaints about the store.

The council is set to hear the store’s appeal and make a decision, but Dewitt maintained that what Henderson is classifying as a “sexually oriented business” the owners of The Love Store claim is really a “romance/love boutique.”

And the semantics may be the key to handing over the keys to the business.

”This place is called 'The Love Store' not 'The Sex Store,' and there is a big, big difference,” Dewitt said, noting that the municipal code defines asexually oriented business as carrying a significant portion [35 percent] of sexually oriented products. “People get all skittish when they think about sex. Stop thinking about sex and think about love. It is not the kind of business that deserves that label.”

The store’s owner, Edward Wheeler, said he’s been seeking clarification from the city for five years.

Dewitt said, “Any law has to be reasonably understandable to the average person and not be so vague as to invite discriminatory enforcement. When laws regulate expressive activity, like movies, then they really have to be specific."

But City Attorney Josh Reid believes the ordinance is clear and said the city could deny the license based on the interpretation of the city’s‘ ordinance that would point to the store as having a significant portion of adult inventory.

However, DeWitt argued that the Love Store’s inventory contains less than the 35 percent of adult materials that the ordinance defines as the amount of stock in what’s considered an adult store.

DeWitt pointed to Wheeler’s Las Vegas store as an example that carries 20,000 items, and fewer than 35 percent meet the Las Vegas definition of adult materials. He said the outside of the store looks like a regular lingerie store such as Victoria’s Secret, is tastefully decorated and there’s no movie booths or dancing women.