LAKE CHARLES, La (KPLC-TV) – It's a retail store that has made a name off of selling humorous novelty products, but now there are new concerns that Spencer's is going too far with some of its merchandise.
Now, Lake Charles Police will be checking into the matter, according to city officials.
Acting on a tip from a viewer, 7 News took an undercover camera inside Spencer's at Prien Lake Mall in Lake Charles, where we were able to walk right up to the "adult section," which was not barricaded off from the rest of the store.
Among the products on store shelves were inflatable blow-up dolls that emit sexual sounds, plastic cups that displayed male genitals, and lollipops in the shape of male genitals.
On our Facebook page, we asked for your thoughts on Spencer's.
One person said, it's a "borderline sex shop."
Another wrote, "You can't bring your children in that store."
Someone else added, "It's gotten worse."
But not everyone believes parents should be worried.
Fallon Metcalf, a mother from Lake Charles, said she shops at Spencer's but does not bring her kids in to the store. Metcalf said Spencer's isn't to blame for kids coming in to the store. It's their parents.
"It is inappropriate for children, but if you're worried about that, don't take your kids in there," said Metcalf. "Don't leave them unsupervised where they can go in there."
Emily Wiggins, of Lake Charles, said when she was underage, Spencer's employees actually kicked her out when she roamed into the adult section.
Wiggins said Spencer's does a good job of keeping minors outside of the adult section but said they might consider hiring more people.
"They maybe should hire somebody specifically to watch and take over [identifying] people who go back there because I know when it gets busy, their two workers are not enough to catch everybody that's going back there," said Wiggins.
Spencer's has come under scrutiny in the recent years in many communities across the nation, including in Florida, Maine, Texas and Georgia.
In November, police in Rapid City, South Dakota raided Spencer's and seized adult material that was found to violate city ordinances.
According to Lake Charles City Ordinance Sec. 13, it is unlawful to invite or permit any persons under 17 to be in any commercial establishment that exhibits or displays any item, material or work that exploits sex. The same ordinance also prohibits minors from seeing or examining the contents.
Spencer's in Lake Charles is not considered an adult store but does display a sign, warning that adult material is inside the store. However, when 7 News visited, there was not a sign banning anyone under age 18 from actually entering the store.
A spokesman for Spencer's said the store works hard to keep its adult material away from children.
Kevin W. Mahoney, the general counsel for Spencer's, released the following statement:
"For more than forty years, Spencer Gifts has displayed a small portion of adult themed merchandise in its stores. To ensure that this merchandise is displayed in a responsible manner, it is placed in the back corner of our stores and may not be viewed from the common areas of the mall. Spencer's places advisory signs at the front entrance of the store advising our Guests, before entering, of the presence of this merchandise. The merchandise is also placed in discreet packaging while on display in the store. The area where the product is located is monitored by Spencer's store associates to deny access to children who may be present in the store and are unsupervised by a parent or adult. With these measures, Spencer's ensure that the merchandise is displayed and sold responsibly."
Mahoney also adds that many other retail stores carry the same adult products Spencer's carries.
Debbie Seal, manager of Prien Lake Mall released the following regarding Spencer's: "When we receive customer comments regarding merchandise on display within a retail space or about the window displays themselves, we take careful consideration of the concerns expressed and personally share the comments with the manager or owner of the store in question.
"We also suggest that individuals who have concerns express them directly with senior management at Spencer's Gifts corporate office. Spencer Gifts corporate headquarters can be reached at (609) 645-3300.
"We value the loyalty of our Simon shoppers and take their comments and suggestions seriously, as they help us shape the future of our mall and better serve the needs of our shoppers."
The City of Lake Charles said there have not been any complaints filed against Spencer's.
They have asked Lake Charles Police to look into whether Spencer's is violating any city ordinances.