Devine St. sex shop could close or change its inventory

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - The days are numbered for Columbia's only adult retail business.

A recent decision by the City of Columbia appears to spell doom for the controversial store called Taboo on Devine Street.

Taboo has been a thorn in the side of city officials and some in the commercial and residential areas nearby for about two years.

As things now stand, the store won't be able to stay in business beyond the end of the month.

Taboo is located in the 4700 block of Devine in a building that used to be a Taco Bell.

When it first opened in December of 2011, city officials were surprised and council members worried it would drive down property values and become a hotspot for crime.

There's no evidence either of those things happened, but one thing the city did do to make business tougher for owner Jeff White was to enforce a restriction on operating hours.

The shop was not allowed to be open between midnight and 6 a.m., and White filed a complaint with the city saying that rule created an economic hardship for a business like his.

On Monday, a city hearing officer rejected the complaint.

Now it appears the store will have to either close or change what it sells.

Shortly after Taboo's controversial opening the city made changes to its rules regarding adult businesses, expanding the buffer zone between schools, places of worship, homes or public parks and businesses from 500 feet to 700 feet. That change meant Taboo was no longer in compliance with city standards.

The city of Columbia granted a "grandfathered" business license to run as the business is currently running until the end of 2013.

The councilman who represents that district says getting rid of Taboo is good for the city.

"I think it's a win-win for the neighborhood and everybody that lives around there and does business around that location,"said Moe Baddourah. "Taboo and businesses like that de-value the value of property value, increase crime, and we've seen that through statistics and other locations in history."

White told WIS Thursday morning he was going to close the store today and talk about the city's actions.

We went there several times and contacted him through the store's manager but we have not heard back from White as of this report.

The manager told us the store was preparing for a sale, but wasn't clear whether it was a liquidation sale.

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