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Moms Take Aim at Spencer's Explicit Gifts: MomTalk Q&A

Should the Orland Park store be allowed to carry sexually explicit merchandise if teens are shopping in the mall?

has come under scrutiny recently. Known for its silly cards, gag gifts and novelty items, as well as some sexually explicit products, the store is a favorite among the teen crowd. Following complaints from patrons that resulted in a , Spencer's was ordered to comply with state statute that required inappropriate materials, or those items intended for a more mature audience, be corralled in an area off-limits to underage patrons.

So we wondered:

Should Spencer's Gifts, given that it is in a mall frequented by minors, be permitted to carry explicit materials as long as the store is in compliance with state statute?

Here's the view from the Patch Moms Council.

Nicole Yaniz, New Lenox

"I feel that these items should be excluded from Spencer's Gifts considering the location of the store (in a general mall). It would be better suited for an "adult" shop outside of a mall which may be more able to manage who enters and purchases adult items from the store. However, if the store is in compliance with the state, then the store is following the law so perhaps the state should revisit its policies. My hope is that Spencer's would have a requirement that at least 18-year-olds are employed in the store and that the items are in a separate room with a closed door and ID is required to enter and purchase. I feel bad that the 19-year-old cashier was arrested as she was just doing her job and probably didn't know any better."

Kitty Vancina, New Lenox

"It's such a shame that stores like this are free to operate. Even with a separate room, kids know something titillating is going on. Their exposure to this type of lewdness is completely inappropriate and disgraceful. Our children's youthful years are being eroded."

Felicitas Cortez, Orland Park

"What’s your definition of explicit? During a recent visit to the local Spencer's Gifts, I found the usual array of bachelor and bachelorette party accessories, costume props and candy underwear. Bad taste—definitely, but a stretch to describe them as explicit. Perhaps the recent crackdown and resulting press motivated Spencer's staff to cull their inventory and move the rest to the furthest back section of the store, making them compliant with Illinois statute. I also expect sales staff to be more vigilant about checking customers’ IDs for certain purchases—in our state the magic age is 18. Ask any more of the store and you’re treading tricky waters. Should the corner drug store be then expected to post warnings that condoms and massagers are sold there? It’s a matter of semantics…and packaging. Even in my day, Spencer's Gifts had a certain appeal, if you will, which beckoned teens and pre-teens to spend their mall time browsing through posters and gag items, laughing at bawdy cards and t-shirts, and yes, even making the occasional purchase. When my kids are old enough, or show interest in hanging out at the mall with their friends, I bet they will do the same. By that time, I hope I’ve forged an open line of communication, and better yet, taught them to spend their hard-earned dollars (and mine) on more worthy items. Pet rock anyone?"

Donna Cameli, Orland Park

"There isn’t much you can do if Spencer's is in compliance with state statutes, but that is the key.  I used to work at Borders Books and all of the adult materials were kept behind the counter and customer age had to be verified by the sales clerk before being released. For good reason, the managers were very insistent on compliance. If parents find they are not complying and their teens are gaining access to this material, they should be sure to bring it to the attention of the store and, ultimately, upper management. Unfortunately, the reality is there is only so much one can do to monitor their exposure to the negative things in this world. You reach a point where you just pray that your love, teaching and continued interest in their lives outweighs the pull of these outside influences."

Next week's topic: Cheating. How far do we go to make sure our child stays at the top of their class? Do we apply so much pressure to succeed our child is then forced to cheat?

Patch's Moms Council addresses issues on the minds of parents, debate the pros and cons, and offer advice. Look for MomTalk Q&A every Wednesday at 1 p.m.

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