Borough's bad vibes close sex shop

Posted: November 07, 2013

A WEST CHESTER sex shop that gave away 300 vibrators in September is closing because city officials never quite got in the mood, the owner says.

Sexologist and activist Jill McDevitt opened Feminique Boutique five years ago and ran into controversy almost immediately. She couldn't be reached for comment yesterday, but wrote a 2,800-word blog post Monday blaming city bullying for forcing her to shutter the shop.

"West Chester is a sucky place to run a sexuality business," she concluded, after outlining her rocky relationship with city officials and a nearby Catholic church.

At one point, officials in the Chester County seat took issue with her store's sign, which depicts a female outline with a heart covering the pelvic region. At a street festival, officials had her take down T-shirts she was selling emblazoned with a four-word rhyming phrase, "Cl-- is the s---."

McDevitt wrote that she felt singled out by authorities, noting she had to hire a lawyer before she could even open. But officials blame her for pushing the envelope.

"To the credit of the borough, I think they went out of their way to accommodate her," Malcolm Johnstone, executive director of the city's business-improvement district, told the Daily News yesterday.

Johnstone said most of the controversy stemmed from a lack of discretion with sexually explicit materials and images. He and Borough Manager Ernie McNeely pointed to a conditional-use agreement McDevitt agreed to that outlined display limits.

"Anybody can open a sex shop in any community, but not in every part of every community," Johnstone said. "Hers was on the real close edge of what the zoning allowed."

In September, the People Paper covered a "Free Vibrator Day" giveaway at the store that attracted 300 customers, and the past few days have had no shortage of social-media support for the business.

"Very saddened and disgusted by my hometown, and grateful to be in a more accepting place now, best of luck Dr. Jill!" tweeted one user.

"OMG please don't tell me west chester finally broke you down?!" posted another on the shop's Facebook page.

McDevitt posted that the shop could be closed as soon as Nov. 30 if she's able to clear her inventory of sex toys, lubes and restraints by then.

On Twitter: @jad_sleiman

comments powered by Disqus