The Love Ones window provokes a letter BALTIMORE COUNTY

April 16, 1993|By Frank D. Roylance | Frank D. Roylance,Staff Writer

Towson merchants, worried about moral decay and the business implications of a new store in town that sells whips, leather lingerie and sex toys, put their heads together this week decided to -- write a letter.

At first, members of the Towson Business Association attending the group's monthly meeting Wednesday could not decide how to respond to the presence of the Love Ones in the 400 block of York Road, two doors from the Towson Library.

On the one hand, the lingerie store's most recent window display -- mannequins in leather underwear, one in a harness, the other holding a whip -- clearly seemed to offend other shop owners and some of their customers.

On the other hand, said Jack Finkelstein, of Finkelstein's clothing store, "What can we do about it? We're certainly pro-business, and this is a business, legitimate and legal, although not, in my opinion, desirable."

Mr. Finkelstein also was "happy to report" that, since the weekend, the window display had been changed "from what I would classify as obscene to what I would call risque." The mannequins are still there but dressed in bathing suits and T-shirts.

Mr. Finkelstein wants the county to help property owners refurbish and rent vacant storefronts so they aren't tempted to rent to businesses like the Love Ones. Towson Councilman Douglas B. Riley said the county, with its budget problems, cannot be counted on to solve the problem.

"The Towson Business Association has got to get a little more backbone," he said. "The TBA ought to be taking the lead on some of these things." And as the TBA prepares for the election of its new board, he said, "you ought to think about people who will be more pro-active . . . and not afraid of controversy."

As for the Love Ones, Mr. Riley said, "Let's get the owner in here. He says he's willing to work with us, although I'm not sure he is." If nothing is done, he said, "the next thing we're going to have is the Rubber Tree [a condom boutique recently permitted to open in Fells Point]. We're getting a lot of the Fells Point crowd up here now."

He also urged the TBA to pressure the Love Ones' landlord, John Karsos, who owns many other business properties in Towson.

"The reason this has gotten to the point where no one has done anything is that there has been no consensus," said TBA president Marlene Titus. She suggested that the group draft a letter to the Love Ones' owner, Frank Billitz, and that it be reviewed by the TBA board at its meeting next month.

Some members felt that approach was too slow. Attorney Lawrence S. Wescott volunteered to draft a letter that board members could review next week. The letter would invite Mr. Billitz to join the TBA and would express TBA's concern and its gratitude for the toned-down window display.

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