MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – Myrtle Beach City Council is researching its options to limit businesses along certain parts of Ocean Boulevard from selling offensive and obscene merchandise.
City leaders hope a new ordinance limiting vulgar or offensive items will help cut crime. Myrtle Beach Mayor John Rhodes says limiting crime is an obvious benefit, but cutting down on certain merchandise will also make the city more inviting for families.
“There’s some things that are sold on the boulevard that are obscene to children,” says Mayor Rhodes. “Parents don’t want their kids seeing this kind of stuff.”
Myrtle Beach city leaders are discussing an ordinance that would prevent business owners along certain parts of Ocean Boulevard from selling merchandise with vulgar language, drug or tobacco-related products, and any sorts of weapons.
“It used to be that you’d have people that would review everything that was being put in these stores,” recalls Mayor Rhodes. “You had a committee to do that; it was store owners. And that sort of went away. We need to get back to that.”
Several business owners supported the ordinance at the city council meeting Tuesday.
Michelle Kercher, manager of the Gay Dolphin Gift Cove, agrees some of the merchandise sold on the boulevard is a turn off for both tourists and Myrtle Beach residents.
“No one is opposed to making it more family friendly, to getting the vulgar language and paraphernalia out of the windows because it is offensive to families coming from other areas,” admits Kercher.
But, the Kercher says controlling what stores can and can’t sell is a slippery slope, legally, that may not have much of an impact on safety. She predicts moving the offensive merchandise from select businesses won’t rid the city of the problem, it will just move it down the street.
“It’s also going to move the issue out of town,” says Kercher. “So it’s not going to completely address the issue; you’re just going to have another area that’s going to deal with it.”
Mayor Rhodes says he knows t-shirts with vulgar language aren’t responsible from crime on the boulevard, but says getting rid of them is a step in the right direction.
“Does this bring crime? I can’t say that it does,” admits Mayor Rhodes. “Does it help in tourism and a family atmosphere? No, it doesn’t.”
Myrtle Beach City Council did not say specifically which parts of Ocean Boulevard would be a part of the district, council members decided they will first consult the city attorney on the legality of the ordinance before moving forward.