Trevor's Toybox sues Pembroke over what classifies as 'sexual paraphernalia'
Evelyn Carey pauses in front of the Trevor's Toybox storefront on Main Street in Pembroke; Monday, March 18, 2013. (SAMANTHA GORESH / Monitor staff)
After being denied permission to sell clothing, handcuffs and whips in downtown Pembroke, the former town selectman who owns Trevor’s Toybox has turned to the courts, filing a lawsuit in Merrimack County Superior Court last week.
Larry Preston is asking the court to reverse the Pembroke zoning board’s decision in May, where board members ruled that anything sold in the store related to bondage would violate the town code that limits where sexually explicit merchandise can be sold.
“Rather than interpret the specific definitions set forth in the Pembroke Zoning Ordinance, the (board) chose to rely upon a subjective opinion to reach a conclusion that virtually anything Trevor’s Toybox proposes to sell would violate the Zoning Ordinance,” wrote Preston’s lawyer, Matthew Serge of Upton & Hatfield in Concord.
The town has until Sept. 3 to file a response before a November hearing. Town Administrator David Jodoin wasn’t available for comment yesterday.
The suit also alleges the town’s decision “unreasonably interferes with (Preston’s) right to free speech under the state and federal constitution.”
“If you can’t sell boots and suspenders and T-shirts, it feels like a violation of first amendment rights,” Preston said yesterday. “I would like to be able to, same as I wanted in the very beginning, open a store that caters to an audience, to a market that they may not like. But you can’t discriminate based on who we’re marketing to. You can regulate items, and we’ve never wanted to push the envelope on items that are allowed in the zone. T-shirts, suspenders and boots are allowed. . . . It’s a wild stretch of the imagination to determine a T-shirt is sexual paraphernalia.”
The shop first came to the town’s attention in March when a window display of two scantily dressed mannequins holding handcuffs and whips was set up.
The town ordinance defines sexual paraphernalia as graphic displays and express depictions of sexual activities. Preston said at the May meeting that while that kind of merchandise would be sold by a website operating with the same name and address, the inventory would never be kept in the Pembroke store.
(Sarah Palermo can be reached at 369-3322 or
email@example.com or on Twitter @SPalermoNews.)