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Owner of Zeeland sex shop says city shutting him down is 'a sham'

The city told Patrick Cooper on Feb. 21 his business violated a zoning ordinance.

ZEELAND, Mich. — The owner of a sex shop shut down by the city of Zeeland says he will fight the closure that he calls "a sham."

Patrick Cooper, owner of Z.ink Tattoo and Piercings on N Elm Street, opened up Grimlock's Emporium for the Misbehaved Lady in the same building on Feb. 20. The downtown store sold sex toys, bondage products and novelty items. 

The idea started as a joke, but it turned out there was a real need for these items, Cooper said. 

"Sure enough, a lot of people really wanted to see something like that in Zeeland – it really blew my mind," he said. "There was a staggering number of people who wanted to buy stuff from me."

One day later, a city official called Cooper to tell him his business was considered an adult bookstore and not zoned to operate downtown. Hours later, the employee arrived with the Zeeland police chief to shut down Grimlock's. 

This is purely a zoning matter, said Zeeland City Manager Tim Klunder. 

"This is not a matter of us trying to tell him what's right or wrong as far as the product goes," Klunder said. "It's very clear they can't be sold from that location because it's not zoned for that type of use."

The Zeeland city code's definition of an adult book store includes selling "sex objects." Currently, a business owner can operate an adult book store in an industrial zone.

Klunder said the police chief accompanied the city employee because they expected the meeting to be contentious. 

Cooper plans to challenge the closure "by any means." He intends to start with the city's zoning board of appeals, but the business owner is crowdfunding for legal fees. 

"This is unfair," he said. "It's because they don't want it legitimized; that's all it is. They just want to keep people ashamed or hidden."

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