'Adult' items spark dispute at Fort Worth shopping center




Posted on July 16, 2012 at 10:00 PM

Updated Monday, Jul 16 at 10:50 PM

Should The Velvet Box be allowed to remain in business at Alliance Town Center?
Alliance Town Center

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FORT WORTH — Alliance Town Center is moving ahead with a lawsuit to stop one of its businesses from selling adult items.

In more than 400 pages of legal documents, the North Fort Worth shopping center calls The Velvet Box a "sexually oriented business." It says the business generates more than 75 percent of its revenue from sexual items.

Store owner Marcelle LeBlanc says sexual devices are closer to 13 percent of her inventory. She says the books in the store are "educational" and the lotions she carries are also available in drug stores.

LeBlanc said Fort Worth police have inspected The Velvet Box three times, and did not require any permits.

City code defines a sexually oriented business as one which has 35 percent of its "principal business operation" providing materials or items which are "intended to provide sexual stimulation or sexual gratification to its customers." The code does not say whether the 35 percent figure is based on sales or inventory.

LeBlanc said her Alliance Town Center location is worth fighting for. She will file her response to the landlord soon, and then could ask a jury to define what kind of business she runs.

E-mail cnorton@wfaa.com