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Owner says new adult store serves market

The shop is unique in its location and offerings, and despite any complaints, the owner says she's there to stay.

By CHASE SQUIRES
Published January 29, 2004

DADE CITY - The sign on the front door spells it out, "If nudity offends you, do not enter."

It's something new for the Dade City area: a sexually oriented shop.

Dade 301 Adult Toys & Videos opened Wednesday morning along U.S. 301 in a commercial strip just north of the Dade City limits. Inside, the shelves were stocked with videotapes and DVDs, sexual instruction manuals and gag gifts, such as anatomically shaped pasta and Bachelorette Party in a Box.

By noon, 14 browsers had already stopped by, alerted to the location by the store's new sign towering over the busy road.

Owner Sandra Masters, 54, said she knows the store will create a stir. It's the only one of its kind in the area. But, she said, she also knows a good market when she sees one, and, she said, she knows the law is on her side.

"We're where we're supposed to be," Masters said, referring to her location in a commercial district.

While a bar that featured dancing women for entertainment folded a few years ago at a nearby location, Masters said she thinks her operation will succeed.

"There is a need here. There's nothing like this here; there's nothing like it in Hernando County," she said.

Within hours of her store's opening, a Dade City resident stopped by to complain.

"Something like this, it's not good for the community," said Larry Huggins, a father of four boys. "There are a lot of families in this area; it's not like the outskirts of Tampa. We need to make a stand."

Masters said she is aware that some won't like her business. She owns three other shops, including the Pussycat in New Port Richey and two others in Ocala.

She said she has survived her share of complaints and pickets, but it's up to the market to determine if her business will survive.

"It's just a business," she said. "If there isn't a market, then we don't make it, then we're gone."

Joe Gross, Pasco County's assistant zoning and code compliance administrator, said Wednesday inspectors would be on site to review the store in the coming week, but the store sounds as if it is a legal, retail outlet.

Without on-site video viewing booths or live performances, the store is just a store, he said.

And while the warning sign on the front door of Masters' store is unusual, the sign just inside is not:

"No shirt, no shoes, no service."

- Chase Squires can be reached at 352 521-6518 or toll-free 1-800-333-7505, ext. 6518. His e-mail address is squires@sptimes.com

[Last modified January 29, 2004, 01:45:51]


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