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Zoning: ‘Couples boutique’ falls short of county definition of sex shop

By Charles Swenson
Coastal Observer

A shop billing itself as a “couple’s boutique” that opened this week in Litchfield doesn’t meet the county’s definition of a “sexually-oriented business,” according to the Georgetown County planning office.

Klassy Kitty is the newest location of the Badd Kitty stores that have locations in Horry and Charleston counties. It’s a tamer version, the owner said.

“I changed the store to fit within the ordinance,” said John Gaik. It has less than 10 percent “adult” merchandise.

He is in litigation with Horry County over the Badd Kitty store on Bypass 17 in Garden City. That store was within the county ordinance at the time it opened and has less than 50 percent of its sales from adult items, Gaik said.

Georgetown County’s zoning code defines a sexually oriented business as one that sells adult items “as one of its principal business purposes.” Those businesses are limited to industrial zoning districts.

The Klassy Kitty is in a “neighborhood commercial” district at the corner of Highway 17 and Martin Luther King Road. There are no industrial zones on Waccamaw Neck.

Gaik told the county planning and zoning office he won’t carry adult DVDs, books or magazines. It’s adult novelty items will be “non-phallic.”

“As long as he’s doing what he says he’s doing, that’s fine with us,” said Boyd Johnson, the county director of planning and zoning. “At some point, we’ll have to do a walk-through.”

Klassy Kitty is a boutique that sells mostly lingerie, Gaik said.

“We are not a sex shop,” said Kat Sweeney, the store manager. “There’s nothing here that should offend anyone.”

Most of the customers are couples or older women, she said.

The store has racks of lingerie. It does sell books, but they are limited to the “Fifty Shades of Grey” series of bestsellers and a collection of letters to Penthouse magazine.

There’s also a display of Kama Sutra brand massage oils. An alcove has shelves of electronic devices and the display rack behind the counter has an extensive collection of AA and AAA batteries.

“I don’t know there’s much there that you can’t buy in a drug store,” Johnson said. “You have to make a judgement on paraphernalia.”

The store had its grand opening Saturday night. The planning and zoning office received some complaints from residents concerned that the store would tarnish the community’s image as a family beach.

The county ordinance is geared toward limiting businesses such as strip clubs and adult video and book stores. “We’ve never had a strip club come in here and apply,” Johnson said.

If the Klassy Kitty violates the ordinance based on its merchandise, the county would issue a citation. The business could either comply or change locations, Johnson said.

Gaik said he plans to stick with the product mix he has agreed to. “We consider ourselves promoting sexual health and well-being,” he said. “We’re not a nuisance.”

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