By Patrick Cronin
Hampton Union, Friday, September 1, 2006
[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
[Photo by Andrew Moore]
HAMPTON -- Joyce Alders, owner of the Cow's Ass Leather Shop, will no longer be allowed to sell knives and other similar items at her store inside the Hampton Beach Casino.
Alders, who has been selling the items for the last 29 years, said the Casino will no longer allow the items to be sold after this summer, even though the items are legal in the state of New Hampshire.
"We can reinvent ourselves," Alders said. "We can find other items to sell. I just regret disappointing our cutlery customers who have been loyal to us for so many years."
Alders said she doesn't plan to fight the decision by the Casino but does plan to educate the Hampton Beach Village Precinct, which is considering a warrant article to ban the sale of the items at all beach shops, about her customers.
Precinct officials raised the issue by discussing a ban on the items due to complaints they have received from tourist and other businesses along the strip.
Alders blames those complaints on other stores that are not as responsible as hers.
"There are a few stores that are not responsible, but that is not us," Alders said.
"We are vigilant about checking proof of age and go a step further in that we will refuse the cutlery sale to anyone appearing intoxicated, or talking about the use of an item in an inappropriate way."
In the last week, she has been asking her customers to fill out a survey, which she plans to share with the precinct.
"I just think people have the wrong idea on what we are selling and who we are selling them to," Alders said. She said most of her customers are the "family" type that Hampton Beach wants to attract.
"We have had over 100 responses and everyone who filled out the survey disagrees with the decision to ban the sale of cutlery items," Alders said.
The survey indicated most of her customers are men over the age of 30 who she said purchase the items for decoration or collections.
Hampton Police Chief James Sullivan said that the weapons being sold there and other places have not been an issue in local crime.
Several customers of Alders' store said they are upset she will no longer being selling the items.
"My three children are boys," said Lauri Aliengena. "We have been coming to Hampton Beach for the last 10 years and it's a tradition in our family to visit this store."
Kim Landry of Tewksbury, Mass., said she doesn't understand the controversy.
"As long as they follow the requirement under the law, I don't see why there would be a problem selling the items," Landry said. "Coming to this store is one of the main reasons why I go to Hampton Beach."
Mark Minasiam of West Boylston, Mass., said banning the items is as bad as censorship.
"They are just going to lose business to other stores on the boardwalk that are not as nice as the Cow's Ass," said Dave Fagorstorm.
"I think it's important to remember that most of the items are for collectors," said Monique Labelle.
But Precinct Commissioner John Kane said he is glad to see the weapons will be out of the store and would like to see the other store owners follow suit.
"We are trying to promote a family beach and that doesn't do it for us," said Kane. "They can sell other merchandise and still make a dollar selling something else."