Megastore Owner Wins Key West Battle

Last November, Fairvilla Megastore owner Bill Murphy filed a lawsuit against the city of Key West for denying him an adult business license. Murphy's store opened at 520 Front St. and had been operating with a general occupational license but was met with staunch resistance from local authorities. The Key West Planning Board determined his use of the license was barred by local ordinances.

"We went in to Key West to open a store- but all of sudden they turned around and did a 180 because of some of born again influence," Murphy told in November. "They tried throwing roadblocks up at us every step of the way."

"We [were] asking for the adult license and damages," attorney William Andersen, who is representing Murphy, said. "We [were] not been allowed to put the store's full inventory on sale, [which] caused Mr. Murphy to lose money."

So Murphy sued, which eventually led to a meeting that resolved the issue.

"One of the items Key West was very concerned about was the proliferation of t-shirt businesses, the items that they have on the shirts, x-rated stuff by a door, neon lighting, and so on," Glenn Duffy of the Fairvilla Megastore corporate office told "But that's not the way the store operated anyway."

"We did a slide show presentation before the Board of Adjustments of Key West, which consists of the City Commissioner, and we took pictures of Eckerd Drugs, Wallgreens, and other stores in Key West that were not necessarily adult store but were selling the same items as we sold in the Fairvilla Megastore, everything from vibrators to lubricants to condoms, penis pumps, all found in mainstream stores. Sure, they are packaged differently, but they are the same items. The presentation to the city was that we were putting it together all in one store. We're not going to have offensive materials in our window and had no intention to. You have to 18 to come in store even though we do not have to do that. Fairvilla Megastore is not run like an adult store, it's run like a department store. We have been good corporate citizens in the cities we're in now and we will be that in Key West."

Duffy continues: "After hearing all this, the city agreed with Bill and decided to back off and leave us alone under a regular occupational license, which we'd already applied for a received. We agreed to follow certain rules that we had set out from the beginning, which is really how we run the stores anyway."

"It was all just political hubbub and came from certain people within the community, but once we opened up the store and they saw the way that we were operating and what we did, their fears were arrested."