The story first made news last week, when parents in North Carolina started speaking out about what they found in a Spencer Gifts store. We wanted to find out exactly what those parents saw on those shelves.
KLTV went to our Longview Mall, and you may be surprised by what we found. The items in the store are of a very "sexual nature", and the following story is not appropriate for children.
"Children grow up too soon. They're exposed to way too much and here's your prime example," says concerned mother of four, Anita Winkles. Winkles wants to voice her concern about a section of the Spencer Gifts store in the Longview Mall.
Some East Texas parents like Winkles say they wouldn't want their kids to see some of the items inside the store.
"I can't believe they have this out. I wouldn't want my teen to see this," said Ms. Lilly, a parent and grandparent.
Aisle after aisle. Hundreds of items, so sexual in nature, out in the open, KLTV's hidden cameras caught it all.
"These items should be behind a counter or behind a locked door , because some of this stuff I'm looking at, it's shocking me,"said Lilly while we were showing her video of inside Spencer Gifts.
"I think it's something you'd see in a porno shop. It certainly shouldn't be allowed where the open general public could see those word," said Jerry Waldon, whose a father and grandfather.
"It's just ridiculous that they would put things like that right there in the mall where anybody can walk in there," said Winkles.
With no dividers separating the sexual items from other novelty items in Spencer's, We wanted to know how this type of merchandise could be out in the open where any child or teen could see.
So, what was our next move? We showed our hidden camera video to Longview Mayor Jay Dean.
"I wouldn't want my daughters in that store. These are the kind of things that scare people off quite frankly. We already have ordinances in place to try to protect our people and they're getting around that someway which we will be looking into," said Jay Dean, mayor of the city of Longview.
Spencer Gifts says their policy is not to sell "adult theme" items to kids. As for kids not being able to look at merchandise; they clearly don't have any barriers to stop them but city officials say if the company won't do anything, parents can "If our community will be as outraged about this type of behavior by a business as what I am, there's things they can do. They don't need to shop there! They don't need to shop there!" said Mayor Dean.
Spencer gifts would not talk to us on camera. They did send us this statement...
"Since 1947, Spencer's has been committed to creating an exciting, entertaining, and unique store experience for our core 18 to 24 year-old guests. Within our broad, eclectic mix of merchandise, a small percentage has an adult theme and has been available in Spencer's for decades. By policy, Spencer's management and associates have had an obligation and responsibility to the community to discourage the sale of items with an adult theme to persons under the age of majority. Spencer's understands its obligation to maintain an environment of trust appropriate for the over one hundred million guests annually who patronize our six hundred stores nationwide. In every location, Spencer's informs its guests, before entering that a small portion of adult-theme merchandise is on display in the rear of the store. In this way, Spencer's will continue in its sixty-year tradition as the authentic destination for fun, humor and unique merchandise targeted to our core 18 to 24 year-old guests, while respecting the interests of all individuals who visit our stores."
Kevin W. MahoneyGeneral Counsel/Senior Director Spencer Gifts LLC
We went to Longview's Spencer Gifts store and we saw the advisory signs they are talking about in their statement. The warning on the outside window is about the height of your calf, in lettering that is never bigger than two inches tall.