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Thu, Oct 30, 2014

Adult novelty store opens on Square

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Adult novelty store opens on Square | Sarah Baldwin, Body Boutique, Business, Murfreesboro, Culture, City Council, Planning Department

Sarah Baldwin stands in the front of the new adult novelty store that opened June 28, 2013, in Murfreesboro, Tenn. (TMP Photo/M. Willard)

The first customer at the Murfreesboro Square’s newest business was waiting on its doorstep for the doors to open Friday morning.

“This lady was waiting in her car and as soon as I open the door, she came in and brought something,” said Sarah Baldwin, owner of Body Boutique.

The new store, which opened officially around 11 o’clock Friday morning at 123 S. Church St., is an adult novelty store that sells lingerie, sex toys and accessories. 

“It’s more about pretties – bachelorette stuff and intimacy for couples,” Baldwin explained what her store offers the public.

But the public became concerned early in the week after Baldwin began moving her stock into the store. Complaints prompted the city of Murfreesboro to issue a zoning violation.

In a letter to Baldwin dated June 25, Murfreesboro Planner Robert Lewis questioned whether the store should be classified as a “sexually oriented adult business.” 

“I came to a similar, tentative conclusion based upon photographs I took from the sidewalk at the front of the building,” Lewis wrote about the business that is located in on the Murfreesboro Square.

According to city code, a sexually oriented adult business is any store that houses a “substantial” amount, or 30 percent, of sexually explicit merchandise. Further a such store cannot located with 1,000 feet of a church, library, park or bar, among other places, and must be located in a a heavy industrial district. 

Body Boutique is located within 1,000 of Linebaugh Public Library and Civic Plaza, as well as in the  the Central Business District.

But an inspection Friday morning “found the business to be in compliance with Section 32, - regulation of sexually oriented adult businesses, of the city’s zoning ordinance,” Lewis wrote in a memo.

“The stock for sale in the store did not fall in the categories of adults-only bookstore, adult cabaret, adult entertainment center, adults-only motion picture theaters, adult motel, massage parlor, rap parlor or sauna,” he said.

Therefore Body Boutique was allowed to open for business.

“We passed with flying colors,” Baldwin said.

After passing the inspection, Baldwin opened her doors. Between then and 1:30 Friday afternoon, the store was halfway to its break-even point in sales, she said.

“We’ve had a lot of browsers and positive feedback once people see what the store is about,” she said.

But not everyone around the Square is happy about the new store. 

“I know people like that kind of store, but I just want it to be respectful,” said Corey Williams, owner of Pa Bunk’s Natural Market & Cafe.

He doesn’t want to begrudge a fellow business, but he hopes Baldwin will be keep her neighbors and the community in mind when marketing her wares.

“We have all ages around the Square ...” he said, adding he hopes she keeps the curtains closed during the daytime. “We’ve created such a nice Square with the Saturday Market and one of the most visited libraries in the state ... I just don’t want people to avoid this side of the Square because of that store.”

Baldwin said she intends to be a good neighbor. She has hung curtains to block views from the sidewalk, moved the more possibly offensive merchandise to the back of the store and will use black bags to protect her customers’ privacy.

She will not sell any pornographic materials and will put stickers on any questionable content.

She even plans on publishing a catalogue so her customers can have items that she doesn’t keep in stock shipped directly to their homes.

Baldwin, who has two grandchildren, said the store is more about intimacy than anything lewd and she wanted to create a fun and inviting place where couples can visit.

“I wanted to create a place that isn’t scary or mysterious, that people feel comfortable coming into and ask questions,” she said. “And if I don’t know the answer, I’ll find it for you.”

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Body Boutique, Business, City Council, Culture, Murfreesboro, Planning Department, Sarah Baldwin
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