Councilman and residents question legality of women's clothing store on Highway 58
CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -
Some people living near a women's clothing store in Chattanooga say the store doesn't 'fit in' with the neighborhood. The Love Shack sits off Highway 58 in Chattanooga. It bills itself as a women's clothing store but it also sells adult items.
The store is hard to miss. The front of the building is painted pink and a large billboard sits above it.
"I think it's trashy," says Wendy Starnes.
Wendy Starnes works for a daycare at a church nearby.
"The neighborhood's trying to rebuild and then all the sudden you have the Love Shack. And it's over right next to a church and schools and daycare," says Starnes.
"They are absolutely exploiting a loophole in order to do business," says City Council member Ken Smith.
Councilman Smith is over District 3, which includes the Love Shack. He and others claim the store should be categorized as an adult business.
"They are within 500 feet of homes and even a church. So both of them, which you're not allowed to be as an adult-oriented establishment," says Smith.
City code says a business is only classified as 'adult-oriented' if more than one third of its sales and inventory sell adult products.
"What they've managed to do is put in vaping and some other products in the store to keep the sales higher on those items so the adult-oriented items wouldn't push them over what is currently considered by ordinance to be an adult-oriented establishment." says Smith.
The store's attorney, Elizabeth Tipping, tells Channel 3, "The Love Shack is a fully licensed and legally-operating lingerie and romance specialty store in full compliance with the Codes of the City of Chattanooga. It is not, and has never been, an 'adult' store as defined by the City's Codes."
Smith confirms the store turned over an inventory spreadsheet to the city showing adult-themed items make up only 22 percent of sales.
Based on some Facebook reviews others welcome the store, with one review saying in part, "We love this place!...The owners are courteous and friendly."
Smith says there is more investigating to do.
"It may be the attention they thought they wanted but it's not the attention the neighborhood wanted at all," says Smith.
Smith says a city attorney is still communicating with the owners' attorney. The city is currently in the process of requesting more inventory paperwork.