Businessman Wants To Open Adult Store

John Carpenter went before the Biloxi Planning Commission Thursday afternoon to request a waiver to allow a new adult store on Highway 90.

This isn't a new concept for the Coast. There are already five open, and two of them are near Carpenter's proposed site. But Carpenter says his adult store won't be like any other on the coast.

"I proposed to open up an adult shop that carries adult material in a manner that won't offend most shoppers. Everybody is gonna be offended at some point in time no matter what. I want to be separated from what's already on the coast in the fact that I won't have video booths that you can get in, peep shows, nothing on the premise at all to have people come in and stay. They come in, buy what they want and leave," said Carpenter.

Some see Carpenter's proposed business as much needed competition.

"We're here to cater for the tourists just like everybody else... He's gonna sell women's apparel, leather goods, novelty toys, and DVDs, but there will be no booths, so please consider it," said Carpenter's business partner George Junkert.

Others in the neighborhood see it as a disgrace.

"In the motel business, the appearance of the area makes a big difference to your guests. I just can't tell you how many times we've had guests just tell me, 'We're not staying in an area with dirty book stores.' Now this may not be classified as such, but I don't see how tourists are going to tell the difference," said Edgewater Inn owner Robert Bennett.

"Along highway 90 is one of the most beautiful scenic areas. I'm proud as a citizen of Biloxi of how attractive Biloxi is and also from a gaming industry standpoint that we've grown to be the third largest gaming destination. We do not want Biloxi to become an area known as the adult video area," said Treasure Bay Casino Vice President of Operations Susan Barnes.

It is up to the commission to decide what's best for the city.

Carpenter also faces another problem. The city of Biloxi has a law which discourages bars, adult stores, and other regulated-use establishments from congregating in one area.

The Roadhouse Bar and Grill is considered a bar and it is within 500 feet of the proposed site.