By REBECCA NEYENHUIS
Spencer’s Gifts, a store that appeals to children but carries adult merchandise, has been in question since Steve Cameron wrote about it in his opinion column, “A Brand New Day,” on Tuesday in “The Daily Herald.”
Cameron said he wrote the article after he wandered into Spencer’s looking for a card and was surprised by the adult merchandise. In the column, Cameron said he was even more surprised when he looked around and discovered most of the customers were children. Cameron said he wondered if most parents knew what was in the store, because it has changed from the Spencer’s novelty store he remembered from when he was younger.
“I am not trying to be the morality police for anyone. Adults should be free to choose where they want to shop. My only issue is that this is an adults only establishment that is wide open and accessible to children,” Cameron said.
Cameron said Tuesday’s column has generated more response than any other. By Wednesday night he had received more than 60 calls and e-mails about the column. All but two agreed with his opinion.
He urged readers to research out the stores, then call Provo Towne Centre and University Malls
“We’ve had a few phone calls, but prior to this article, we’ve had some people ask about it,” said Lori Bernsten, marketing director for Provo Towne Centre.
Bernsten said Provo Towne Centre has taken precautions to clean up Spencer’s Gifts. In the lease agreement, there is specific language preventing Spencer’s from carrying its most offensive product lines, she said.
Cameron said he did not notice a difference between the merchandise of either store when he visited.
A Spencer’s store manager at Provo Towne Center said the store does carry a limited product line because of its lease agreement. Stores outside of Utah, he said, carry more adult-themed items.
University Mall has also gotten calls about the article.
“As a landlord we cannot control what our tenants sell in their stores unless it is illegal,” said Rob Kallas, general manager of University Mall.
He said University Mall is committed to high community standards tries to uphold them when choosing tenants.
“Spencer’s Gifts lease is up soon and we will not be renewing their lease,” Kallas said.
He said University Mall appreciates members of the community expressing concern over such matters. Kallas said he hope articles would be written about any similar store in the community, not just the very visible ones.
Cameron said he is pleased with University Mall’s decision not to renew Spencer’s lease.
Joe Shepherd, 16, from Lindon, said he visits Spencer’s about once a month. Shepherd has only bought a flatulence machine there, and said the store does have some offensive merchandise.
“The worst thing I’ve seen is noodles shaped liked body parts,” Shepherd said.
Andreas Hallberg, 14, from Orem, said he went to Spencer’s every time he went to the mall, about six times a month. He said the store appeals to teenagers, but has adult materials.
“It should be rated R,” Hallberg said.
Hallberg said the store should still carry its racier merchandise, which he said was funny, but should put it in a different section. Hallberg said his parents would probably be amused by the store, but disapprove of him going there.
Both Shepherd and Hallberg said they would not want younger siblings in the store. They said they shop there because of cool items like lava lamps and gag gifts, and would not stop shopping there just because of the adult merchandise.