Adult novelty shop owners clash with Gray Manor residents
Wednesday, 24 March 2010 11:35

Business good despite some protesters

by Joseph M. Giordano

    The small shop at the corner of Plainfield and German Hill roads is causing an uproar among members of the Gray Manor community.
    It’s a clean, well-lit place that happens to sell lingerie.

“We’re not a porn shop,” said Peggy Mills, a Gray Manor resident who co-owns Our Love Shack with Charles Barron. “We sell lingerie, adult novelties and party things. We’re no worse than Spencer [Gifts].”
    The store’s shelves are stocked with adult party favors, costumes, shoes and a handful of adult films.
    “We do not specialize in carrying adult movies. We have a few, but that’s it,” Barron said. “The Royal Farms next door sells more adult magazines in front of the counter where any child can open them and see.”
    But some neighbors, like Lawrence Road resident Michael Bayley, disagree. Bayley and other residents think the store has no place in a neighborhood.
    “It attracts sexual predators, for one,” Bayley wrote in an email. “It’s a blight on the community. We’re a residential neighborhood, we deserve better than this.”
    But the owner refuted the sexual predator claims Monday.
    “We’re not a place where you would find sexual predators hanging out. We’re not The Block,” Mills said, referring to the infamous street in Baltimore that’s home to over a dozen strip clubs and a few peepshow shops. “We’re here for the bachelorette parties, the retirement parties and women who like to dress up. We specialize in larger sizes for women. I’m [large] and I had nowhere to go to buy something for my husband. That’s why we’re here.”
    The owners both worked at the Love Craft on Merritt Boulevard in Berkshire for almost 10 years and knew what they were in for when they opened their shop about a month ago.
    “When Love Craft opened almost 10 years ago, the surrounding neighborhood protested,” Barron said. “But then, like here, most of the customer base came from the neighborhood. They protest by day and shop here under cover of the night. Right now, business has been good for us.”
    Though they feel uncomfortable about donating money to youth groups, the owners plan to become an active part of the community by donating to police and fire department charities and possibly sponsoring a pool team.
    Another vocal protester of the shop is Plainfield Road resident Don Kellner, a retired steelworker who volunteers as a soccer coach with the Dundalk-Eastfield Rec. Council.
    “My entire neighborhood is opposed to this porn shop locating in our community,” Kellner wrote in a letter to The Eagle published March 18. “Most of the members of the community have lived there for many years, and those who have children are appalled that their kids are exposed to such trash. The owner of the property has shown no regard for the community and is certainly not a good neighbor.”    Mills disagreed.
     “We’re a part of the business community that our neighbors have been supporting,” Mills said. “What we have here are novelties, nothing more. There are never any kids allowed in the store, and nothing bad in the windows.”
    “If  people really want to go after something,” she said,  “they should protest the people who drink at the bars in the neighborhood and get behind the wheel. They’re more dangerous to children than we’ll ever be.”