Mom concerned about kids' access to sexually explicit items in mall store - East Idaho News
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Mom concerned about kids’ access to sexually explicit items in mall store

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IDAHO FALLS — When a local mother walked into Spencer’s at the Grand Teton Mall last week, she was shocked to find teenagers and children in the adult section of the store.

The woman, who has asked not to be identified other than her initials R.M., was with her adult daughter when they stopped into Spencer’s last week. The novelty shop sells T-shirts, hats, keychains and other knick-knacks, but it also has items R.M. says parents should know about.

“The back section is completely dedicated to sex. It is in plain view. Lingerie and a wall full of explicit sex toys,” R.M. tells

R.M. says she has no problem with the store selling these items, but she was concerned that a boy who looked to be 10 to 12 years old was browsing in the adult section.

“I asked my daughter if kids are allowed to be back there, and my daughter said, ‘Mom, I have been buying things back there since I was 17,’” R.M. says. “I responded, ‘Are you kidding me? Minors are able to buy (those) things?’ And she said, ‘Of course.’”

The Idaho Falls mother was so disturbed that she went back to Spencer’s on Friday night to see if notices were displayed forbidding children in the back of the store.

She saw a sign in the window at the front of the store stating, “Parental Advisory: Adult Humor and Content,” but inside the shop there was no sort of visible partition between the everyday merchandise and the adult items.

A sign posted outside Spencers at the Grand Teton Mall. | Courtesy R.M.

“I saw a mom with a baby in a stroller and a kid that was maybe 5 years old,” she says. “I saw two couples that appeared to be under 18 browsing. One of those couples purchased an item, and no ID was asked. I just couldn’t believe it.”

R.M. is sharing her story because she wants other parents to be aware that their children may have easy access to sexual items at the local mall.

“Usually most people just walk into the front of the store and a couple of my adult friends had no idea that little section was there,” she says. “It’s not closed off, and you can just walk back there.”

Spencer’s is not breaking any laws by offering the adult items and employees can legally sell the products to anyone who wishes to purchase them. But policies are in place to prevent children from buying the items, corporate officials tell

“We instruct our store associates to not sell them to young teenagers, and we make sure we keep (the items) in the back of the store,” says Kevin Mahoney, Spencer’s general counsel and senior vice president. “We post an advisory sign in the front entrance of the store to let customers know we have adult content. If minors come up with adult items, we tell our associates to not sell it.”

Spencer’s has over 700 stores across the United States and Canada. The business was founded in 1963 and Mahoney notes it has been selling adult products since the mid-1970s. He says cash registers are located in the middle of each store separating the novelty from the adult items.

“We make sure we present the products in a proper way and that a store associate is there,” he says. “If there is someone unattended by a parent or guardian, we make sure they leave.”

Mahoney has been with Spencer’s 13 years and says its target market is men and women between 18 to 24 years old. He says complaints about sex toys “are exceedingly rare at this point.”

But R.M. believes the sexual items should not be displayed in the open and points to local business Karnation Intimate Apparel, where minors are not allowed to view or buy adult products.

“You cannot get to anything in the adult section of the store if you’re not an adult or with a parent,” Karnation manager Teresa Weaver tells “It’s a separate area, and you have to be 18 to go back there.”

R.M. wants changes made at Spencer’s and, if they are not, she at least hopes other parents are now informed about what is being offered.

“A lot of adults are not even aware, and they should know what’s going on,” she says.