A Merrimack County Superior Court judge yesterday stared down from his bench and addressed perfunctory questions to the lawyer for Pembroke business owner Larry Preston.
“Could these handcuffs be used for anything else?” Judge Richard McNamara asked, his voice stern.
And later, “Where else would whips be sold?”
Lawyers yesterday argued over how what they termed “the BDSM lifestyle” relates to Trevor’s Toybox, the shop where Preston hopes to sell leather clothing, handcuffs and whips on Pembroke’s Main Street.
Now, the judge will need to rule on whether the Pembroke zoning board could block Trevor’s Toybox by claiming the bondage items it would sell are sexually explicit.
In May, the zoning board barred Preston from opening the shop in the town’s central business district, where property cannot be used for “passive adult entertainment.” Pembroke’s zoning ordinances cite examples of passive adult entertainment uses, including sexual paraphernalia stores, adult video stores and adult bookstores.
The town says Trevor’s Toybox violates that ordinance because the store would sell bondage items to “cater to sexual preferences, tastes and activities,” according to court documents. The store’s business card defines the store as “meeting the demand for BDSM equipment.”
A small footnote in the town’s court filings cites an internet search for “BDSM defined,” which produced “countless pages devoted to a description of ‘bondage, dominance, submission and masochism.’ ”
“This is a retail store specializing in the sale of paraphernalia used in the erotic touching of body parts,” town attorney Chris Cole said in court.
Preston filed a lawsuit in June to reverse that decision, claiming the items he would sell in the store can easily be purchased at other businesses.
“For example, Walmart sells handcuffs,” the documents state. “A store called Party City in Manchester has children’s handcuff kits. The Army barracks in Salem has handcuffs. Tractor Supply sells whips for pigs and horses. A store called Spencer’s in Concord sells whips and handcuffs. One can buy leather jackets and leather chaps at a Harley Davidson motorcycle shop.”
The items in Trevor’s Toybox could also be used for nonsexual purposes, argued Finis Williams, Preston’s lawyer.
“If a person were to buy a leather jacket and a whip from Trevor’s Toybox so that person could be Indiana Jones for Halloween, that would not constitute a passive adult entertainment use,” the suit reads.
The Trevor’s Toybox website does sell sexually oriented items, Preston has said, but those items would not be sold in his Pembroke store. …