OBX Romance Store went a little too far, town says

By on April 24, 2011

Racy bachelorette party supplies at a new Kitty Hawk store have been toned down enough to meet acceptable local standards, while still allowing leeway for some romantic fun or giddy bridal sendoffs.

Weeks after the OBX Romance Store opened just before Valentine’s Day at Ocean Plaza, some citizens complained to the mayor that items for sale in the back room violated the sexually oriented business ordinance, Director of Planning Joe Heard said.

But proprietor David Hunt said that his well-lit store is meant to serve the Outer Banks wedding and couple’s market, and he has taken care to be tasteful and discreet.

“A lot of people come down here for a romantic getaway,” he said. “We promote marriage. We promote monogamy. We’re not out there targeting swingers.”

When the town investigated the store, which sells lingerie and adult novelty items, Heard said, it determined that some personal vibrators were too anatomically correct — a violation of the town ordinance.

“These are in different shapes and sizes and do not fall within the types that can be found in other stores in town,” Code Enforcement officer Ben Alexander said in a March 29 letter to Hunt.

After explaining the local law, Heard said, Hunt willingly removed the offending items. Products similar to what can be purchased at local pharmacies, including lotions, oils and various battery-operated massagers, were deemed permissible.

Hunt said his store is the first on the Outer Banks to cater to the zesty side of the wedding market, a huge and growing industry on the Outer Banks. Numerous items in the walled-off area of OBX Romance are gag gifts clearly geared for bachelor and bachelorette parties. But there are no X-rated DVDS or sleazy books.

According to the town ordinance, sexually-oriented businesses are defined in part as those that offer patrons devices intended to appeal to sexual interests or titillation. But Hunt said the way it’s defined leaves a lot of room for interpretation.

“Well, what do you do about cucumbers and Wesson oil at Harris Teeter’s?” he said.

Store owner David Hunt.

Acknowledging the shades of gray in the ordinance, Heard said that the town attorney is working to refine what defines sexually-oriented devices and businesses, which are permissible only in special zones. No such zones currently exist in Kitty Hawk, he said.

“Legally, it’s an interesting issue for communities, not just in North Carolina,” he said. “You can’t say, ‘No you can’t do that in this town. Period.’ But you can set standards. So there are ways it can be restricted.”

Hunt said that customers have been all stripes, ranging from older married couples looking to spice things up to young dating singles to couples about to be married, as well as members of wedding parties looking for silly party favors.

“We haven’t had any real negative comments from people coming in here and saying ‘You’re going to go to hell,’ ” he said.

Hunt, operator of Leather & Lace stores in Chesapeake and Norfolk, said he saw opportunity in the Outer Banks bridal market, but with less edgy, more couples-friendly merchandise. Initially, he planned to set up shop at Sea Gate North Plaza in Kill Devil Hills, but when he pulled up with his truck and began unloading fixtures, he was confronted by “agitated” tenants in the strip mall. Soon, the landlord terminated his lease, he said.

Now that issues seem to be straightened out with Kitty Hawk, Hunt says he is happy with his new location directly off the bypass, and apparently so are his neighbors.

Christine Da Mota, who owns the next door shop, the Wine Specialist, with her husband, said that OBX Romance dovetails well with their business, which also caters in part to the bridal industry.

Da Mota said she has heard no complaints “whatsoever. None.” — even from older, more conservative people.

“We’re very happy to have him here,” she said of Hunt. “He’s bringing customers.

“We have the chocolate and the champagne, and he has the rest.”


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June 6, 2011 12:28 am

Wow. That’s really all I have to say. Wow. What year is this? Actually, my wife and I were looking for a sex shop in town for a few items while on vacation. Might it be said that we are both upstanding, hard working, and respected members of the community where we reside. We are both educated professionals who are active in various charities in our spare time. We’ve been together in a monotonous relationship for over 10 years. I suppose our fault is in our assumption that what two law abiding, responsible, and consenting adults do within the confines of their own home (even if renting that home for the week) is their own business.

Amanda VanDyke

June 3, 2011 4:14 pm

This comment could go along with the smoking ban too…..
Just because you don’t like it doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be allowed! What happened to “Free America”?
Great idea Mr. Hunt! You thought of something we did not have and you jumped on it! Nice job and I hope you do very well!!!


May 23, 2011 4:39 pm

The enforcers are typical men, afraid of competition from vibrators. Go away, self-righteous losers.

Wooly Bully

May 20, 2011 4:54 pm

@Nags Header

Please tell me you’re joking…”more cops” seriously? The ones we have now have next to nothing to do as it is! What with this place being chock full of murder and whatnot…wake up. This place is so retarded.


May 19, 2011 9:44 pm

It’s simple…If you don’t like that kind of thing then DON’T GO IN THERE!!!! Sex toys are NOT going to ruin the neighborhood!

Nags Header

May 11, 2011 2:45 am

& bring more police in to enforce it. Lord knows we don’t have enough police.
It looks like the only true job security & guaranteed paycheck is a government job anymore.:S
What’s wrong with this picture?


May 10, 2011 10:34 pm

Hey Dave,

This is the guy that you met when you were attempting to open up the store in KDH next to Bad Bean the first time- I was the one that told you “Watch out, my brotha’, these bible-thumpers will git ya”. Hate to say it, but “told ya so!” Maybe you too should put up a sign that says: “Anatomically Correct Vibrators Coming Soon! Check out our OTHER location in Elizabeth City!” (y’all know what I’m referring to, doncha?) Keep on keepin’ on Dave!


May 10, 2011 10:27 pm

Side 1:
Anybody that’s complaining about these bible thumpers shouldn’t UNLESS THEY VOTED. You see what’s going down in the middle east w/all the peeps kicking their governments out on their butts? That’s what we gotta do here if we want our own personal liberties. Vote ‘em out, immediately. Especially those scumbags in KDH – those elected officials seem to be totally out of control.

Side 2:
Do we want a bunch of porn stores to go with our bong stores? Yeah, you know what I’m talking about – Island Dyes, baby! Double standards RULE OBX… That’s what you get when you mix a bunch of bible-thumping local yokels with a bunch of rich vacation homeowners…LOL. The joke’s on us! Revolt or forever hold thy tongue!


May 6, 2011 10:23 am

Considering some of the restaurant names/slogans they allow down here, it looks like a double standard.


May 4, 2011 3:31 pm

Large shopping malls that cater to “families” have Spencers stores! Been in one of those lately?? It’s not what it was when I was a teen!Nothing tasteful about it! At least this store HAD a back room!!


May 4, 2011 12:10 pm

Let the man run his business. What is he hurting! If you are not into the merchandise he sells then dont go in there. If you dont like a resturant do you go in there???? No! If the more racy things are in the back so children cant see then i do not see problem with it. The last time i checked this was a free contry… Its ashame that people are wanting to open businesses in your area and maybe hire a few people and they are constantly hounded. Some way to bring business in the town. So let him run his business and if you dont like what he has to offer well theres a saying “Dont knock it till you try it” HAHA!!!

go figure

May 4, 2011 8:51 am

i couldn’t agree with brian more, the OBX is backwards, SELF RIGHTEOUS and CORRUPT, corrupt might even be an understatement


May 3, 2011 1:14 pm

This is a joke, seriously! I mean, if a consenting adult couple wants to play with adult toys, then it’s their business, and if they want to visit the “back room” to find those items to purchase, again- their business! It’s not like the store had the items hanging from the flag poles for goodness sake. If you don’t like what a store sells, then simply don’t go in & browse! I don’t drink, therefore I don’t go into the ABS stores. I certainly don’t throw a hissy fit over mass amounts of alcohol being sold there.

Anyway, how did the prudes know what was being sold there that was so offensive? Maybe they went into the store looking for something to spice up their own sex lives??? Things that make you go, “Hmmmmmm”.


April 30, 2011 6:19 pm

You’d rather have a gun shop in Hunt’s location, serving up tools of violence and mayhem. Sex is evil and dirty. Your mommy and daddy never really did that, did they?


April 28, 2011 11:25 am

I think “SOME PEOPLE” shouldn’t be going to the “Back Room” in stores like these. The man is just trying to make a living and have items like these for the “Other People” to enjoy. It could be as simple as that.

PS in Colington

April 28, 2011 7:16 am

Something like this would be laughed at and quickly dismissed in almost every other part of the world, but here we have to make a moral issue out of everything, even with trivial matters such as this.

This is a legitimate place of business, selling products that people want. If you don’t like it, don’t shop there.


April 27, 2011 9:39 pm

It must have been a slow day at the town hall to send a code enforcer out to a business to go into their back room to check out whether or not the anatomically correct personal massagers did or di not meet the town “code”. I just love to see our tax dollars working for us.

Dixie Dude

April 27, 2011 12:25 pm

Folks , mind your own business and leave others alone.


April 27, 2011 3:56 am

Hey Dave you get that glass in yet?

Great discussion all and good article. To all the people who can’t handle the store just go home and flog yourself. Mr. Hunt is filling a niche in our community and his business will surely be successful. Let him do his business and go mind your own!


April 26, 2011 9:45 pm

And the same government folks doing this “enforcing” and “protecting” will be the same ones who can find no room to reduce spending as tax revenues decline. I suppose more empty storefronts and property owners struggling will help us keep our image and propriety intact?


April 26, 2011 4:36 pm

Way to go!! I will be sure to stop in & check out your store when I come down in August!! I normally dont frequent sex toy stores but you can guarentee I will now. Hopefully your business will boom & these prudes can shove it!! They just helped you out!!!!!

Big Daddy

April 26, 2011 8:40 am

Kudoz to you Mr. Hunt. You are showing professionalism now. I don’t think they would strong arm yopu. It’s just the nature of the older crowd in Kitty Hawk. Of coarse, I’m sure the reason there was a complaint was someone running off at the mouth in front of the wrong person.

David Hunt

April 25, 2011 6:03 pm

Special thanks to Catherine Kozak and The Outer Banks Voice.

If the Outer Banks are to continue to grow as a resort and to be known for Romance, Honeymoons and Marriages, it wouldn’t hurt to sell people what they want to buy. If there wasn’t a market for what I sell, I wouldn’t last very long. From the very beginning I have tried to make the store as upscale as possible.

I would also like to send a special thanks to Director of planning Joe Heard. He has always treated me with complete respect and was a true Professional.If the Mayor receives a complaint, then by all means INVESTIGATE IT! They have no way of knowing what is going on unless they check for themselves. All we need here is a little clarification a few definitions.

I am proud to be a member of this community and look forward to a long and prosperous relationship. I understand my store is not for everybody. And that is OK. Just remember to live and let live.


April 25, 2011 5:46 pm

It doesnt take a genious to figure out what is being sold in a “romance store”, so if you get offended by that type of stuff, then you probably shouldnt go in. And to be honest, I have seen just as many “offensive” things at many local tourist stores. To say it is bad because of the kids…well, I seriously doubt a parent would take their child into an “adult store” anyway. The owner seems to know what is appropriate and what isnt. I for one whould also like to know what an acceptable size is!


April 25, 2011 3:34 pm

Did I just enter the Twilight Zone or something? This is a joke, right? What a waste of energy. Wishing you much success Mr. Hunt. Welcome to the community.

benton walton

April 25, 2011 2:44 pm

Kudos to Catherine Kozak for writing this article and to the Outer Banks Voice for publishing it. The media is doing its job best when it exposes the existence of pointless laws and pointless attacks on personal freedoms.


April 25, 2011 1:55 pm

KH staff has too much free time on their hands. I’d like to know which staff member made the determination that the personal vibrators were too anatomically correct and how they came to that conclusion.


April 25, 2011 1:35 pm

Congratulations Mr Hunt! You should thank the Town of Kitty Hawk. You can’t buy advertising like this. I don’t understand — have the Director of Planning or the Code Enforcement Officer taken a look at the eyesore next to the old Hooters???? Or perhaps taken a ride down the beach road towards Southern Shores????? And they are worried about a some random small business in a nice shopping center???? I hope OBX Romance has a record setting week!!

jack jimption

April 25, 2011 11:37 am

Yes, regulate everything, every minute, every day.

PS. also don’t forget to make a giagantic controversy over every single thing imaginable and debate it to death.


April 25, 2011 11:13 am

When did Kitty Hawk turn into Southern Shore? The items are in a backroom not in the store’s window. If you don’t want to look at or buy the items don’t go in. Some people need to live alittle and enjoy life!

Byron's Wheet

April 25, 2011 11:10 am

I agree with most of the commenters…. if it was tasteful in its appearance, then who cares what they sell! And what size dildo is bigger than the “real deal” that the lawmakers are packing? Maybe when we have less fear of what people do at home and how veiny some piece of rubber or plastic is, we may just have a little less sex crime… Is this government intrusion coming from a “small government” set of ideals? I don’t think that this has anything to do with being politically correct. i think that this is simply repression of reality. Maybe they can work really hard and make us wear sweat-suits on the beach and make “non-reproductive intercourse” illegal except by permit!! Way to go!!!


April 25, 2011 11:08 am

This is the main problem with this country right now. Maybe we as people and a nation should worry more about our own selves and what we do and less about others and what they do. I believe the main principle of founding this nation was to promote freedom. To me freedom means if I want to go buy a sex toy I can go buy a sex toy, if I want to go buy I car I go buy a car. If I don’t like what a store sells then I stay away from that store. I don’t play like all these holier than thou hypocrites on this beach that claim to be so sanctimonious but if truth be told people would be appalled at what actually happens behind closed doors. I have never lived in an area as corrupt and self-righteous as the Outer Banks!


April 25, 2011 11:08 am

Sha Sha: it’s no more tasteless than the countless Wings/Sunsations/Reef/etc beach stores polluting the area. This one store is low-key enough you never even knew it was here until this article told you about it. And if you’re a big enough prude that it bothers you, you’re perfectly free to not shop there.

Big Poppa

April 25, 2011 11:03 am

Maybe Sha Sha and eveyone else who doesn’t like the store should take the time to get more info before passing judgement. “Judge not………..”

Mrs. Brown

April 25, 2011 10:54 am


I have no use for items sold at the Harley Davidson store, Nags Head Shop, Wings, or TTops. So……I don’t shop in those places.

It’s not like there was pole dancing or peep shows in the back; sounds to me like the store was just fine the way it was.


April 25, 2011 10:38 am

Why hasn’t anyone mentioned that in order to become “offended” by the products in the “back room,” these people had to actually go into the back room… Sounds like somebody was being a little pervy, and I don’t mean the guy selling dildos…

Water Bug

April 25, 2011 10:15 am

As long as the items are not in plain view of children, let them sell whatever size and shape they want. Consenting adults should be able to buy whatever toys they want. I just wish I had known about the store before this weekend.


April 25, 2011 10:11 am

Hmmm…it’s not like they are on racks at the checkout at Food Lion…if you don’t like the products they carry , just don’t go there!


April 25, 2011 9:31 am

“Racy bachelorette party supplies at a new Kitty Hawk store have been toned down enough to meet acceptable local standard”, what? What exactly is, and who determines, what the ” acceptable local standard is? While I personally don’t have any problem with a novelty store like this I realize that some people are opposed to it. If you don’t like it or are offended by the products the store sells, DON’T SHOP THERE!!! Mr Hunt should be able to try and make money in any business he wishes ( within the legal guidelines of the law) regardless of whether certain citizens like it or not. We should be thankful for citizens like Mr Hunt that want to come into our community and open up businesses.


April 25, 2011 7:50 am

Good thing we have a dildo patrol! Mean while we have smut all over our TV! There are 2 stores on this beach with smut mag racks whats the difference ?


April 25, 2011 7:46 am

Wow! not like there were blow up dolls outside on display. I find it offensive that a punch of prudes are defining what a business can sell.

Sha Sha

April 25, 2011 7:10 am

Tasteless buisness and it has no business being here!!! move the trash out!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The Taxpayer

April 25, 2011 6:49 am

Political correctness run amuck. If folks don’t like the goods this store sells then they shouldn’t shop there. People need to get a life!


April 25, 2011 4:05 am

Just for grins. I would like to see the current ordinance and the restrictions for what is and is not deemed an acceptable size or shaped device in the Town of Kitty Hawk.

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