Lingerie, Not Sex, Focus Of New West OC Store

BERLIN – Contrary to rumor, West Ocean City will not be getting a sex shop.

The former co-owner of the controversial sex shop in Ocean City is opening a new store in West Ocean City, but this time the retail space will focus on lingerie. The new shop will take residence in a strip mall on Route 50.

Ofir Bouzaglo, former co-owner of Sexstyle, a sex shop in north Ocean City, described his new retail venture, to be called Red Light District, as “an upscale lingerie shop.”

“He has applied and received a permit for retail sales. It is for lingerie,” said Jennifer Grasso, Worcester County Zoning Administrator.

Bouzaglo applied for the retail store permit in early July, and the permit was approved on July 12.

“The department’s been fully aware of it. We’ve had numerous discussions with him,” Grasso said.

In addition to lingerie, Bouzaglo will also sell costumes, body jewelry and handbags. The store will focus on women, he said.

The store, Red Light District, will probably not sell any adult material, according to the owner.

“I don’t know. I don’t think so,” Bouzaglo said, when asked.

By law, retail stores, which are not specifically adult oriented, can sell some adult material.

“I’m not opening any sex shop,” Bouzaglo said. “I sold it. I don’t need another one.”

Rumors have eddied around the new store, recalling the controversy when Bouzaglo and then business partner Moshe Bitton opened Sexstyle in Ocean City in spring 2007.

Ocean City did not have a law regulating adult-oriented businesses at the time, although the Mayor and Council moved to establish those regulations after Sexstyle opened.

Worcester County followed suit that same year, establishing regulations that restricted adult oriented businesses. Under the county law, sexually oriented businesses are restricted to three industrial areas in the Berlin and Bishop area, and nowhere else in the county, which means that sex shops and other adult concerns cannot be established in West Ocean City.

Adult oriented businesses, if any happen to be established in the permitted zone, must also be 1,200 feet from other adult businesses or not within 1,200 feet of a school, church or place of worship, daycare center, group home, park or public library. Sexually oriented businesses are not permitted in commercial zoning.

Citizens do not need to fear that a sex shop is going to move in on Route 50 in general.

Retail businesses which are not primarily adult or sexually oriented, may legally carry adult materials, but not what the law calls “a significant amount.”

The adult materials or devices cannot make up more than 20 percent of a store’s stock, take up more than 20 percent of the display space or constitute more than 20 percent of a store’s earnings.

“They can have a certain amount of adult material there as long as it does not exceed the ‘significant amount,’” Grasso said.

Worcester County does not inspect new stores for compliance with the adult material regulations unless a complaint is made.

The county does not have enough staff or resources to make that kind of inspection without a triggering report, Grasso said.

“If it’s opened and we do get a complaint, we’ll look into that,” Grasso said. “We’re not going to go into every shop and make sure they’re stocking a certain percent.”

Bouzaglo’s new lingerie store is not yet open, but plans are underway to open in the Golden Pond Center.