The owner of a controversial chain of sexually oriented shops is opening what he says will be a dancer’s clothing store in Sandy Springs. Work on the Roswell Road store sparked confusion over whether it would be another sex shop, coming just after a decade-long legal battle ended with the city shuttering all strip clubs and all but one other adult novelty store.

The new store’s owner is Michael Morrison, who also owns the Atlanta-based sex shop chain Tokyo Valentino Erotique. Morrison said a report on the blog Tomorrow’s News Today  suggesting the store will be another Tokyo Valentino is incorrect. The store will be a new venture called Dancer’s Elite Wear, which will sell clothing, shoes and other accessories.

“The store opening in Sandy Springs is not Tokyo Valentino,” Morrison said in a written message. “The story that ran in that online magazine was completely incorrect, showing a lack of competence in reporting.”

Morrison did not immediately respond to inquiries about whether Dancer’s Elite Wear will carry any adult entertainment items in addition to its main focus on clothing. On an Oct. 21 visit to the store, which is still preparing for opening at 6074 Roswell Road, lingerie on racks could be seen through the windows. A local resident was on the property trying to find out what type of store it would be amid the sex-shop confusion. The Dancer’s Elite Wear exterior is similar to the wood-fronted look of Tokyo Valentino shops.

Morrison is currently involved in legal battles with the cities of Atlanta and Brookhaven over adult stores he runs.

Dancer’s Elite Wear is about two blocks away from the new arts and civic complex City Springs. It falls within the City Springs zoning district, which does not allow “adult establishments,” according to the zoning’s allowed use table.

The storefront on Roswell Road that will be Dancer’s Elite Wear, a clothing shop from the owner of the local adult entertainment chain Tokyo Valentino Erotique. (Hannah Greco)

The city’s zoning code as of April 2018 prohibits “adult entertainment” stores within 300 feet of any property used for residential purposes, public parks, government buildings, schools or places of worship; within 400 feet from any other adult entertainment stores; and within 50 feet from any establishment that sells alcohol. Adult establishments are allowed in the Perimeter Medical-12/15 District. No other PM-Districts allow adult establishments, according to the code.

Tokyo Valentine is a local chain of self-described “erotiques,” or “erotic boutiques,” that sells adult costumes, sex toys and videos, with locations on Cheshire Bridge Road and Northside Drive in Atlanta, Pleasant Hill Road in Duluth and Cobb Parkway in Marietta. Morrison also runs a smaller store called Stardust on Buford Highway in Brookhaven.

An exterior shot of the Tokyo Valentino sex shop located on Cheshire Bridge Road in Atlanta from the store’s website.
Lingerie can be seen from the windows of 6074 Roswell Road where a local sex shop chain, Tokyo Valentino, is expected to open in Sandy Springs. (Hannah Greco)

An Aug. 30 Week in Review, a weekly update provided by the city manager to the City Council about activity in all city departments, included the address in its “New Business” section. The owner is listed as “6074 Roswell LLC” and the business is described as falling into the category of “all other general merchandise stores.”

According to a Fulton County property records and the Secretary of State business search, the building is owned by John White of JCW Roswell Road LLC. The Reporter was unable to contact White for comment.

According to reports from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Morrison recently won an appeal against the city of Atlanta for trying to shut down the Cheshire Bridge store. The city has been trying to close the shop for years, but in June, a federal appeals court threw out an injunction from the city to shut down his store and said Morrison can challenge the constitutionality of Atlanta’s adult entertainment ordinance.

Morrison has been in a legal battle over the Stardust store in Brookhaven as well. In February, the Georgia Court of Appeals issued that Stardust was in contempt for going against a lower court’s ruling to stop operations because it violates a Brookhaven ordinance regulating sexually oriented businesses, but the shop remains open.

The city of Sandy Springs recently finished a 12-year fight against sex shops and strip clubs in the area. In 2006, the city adopted new codes that aimed to place strong zoning restrictions on where such businesses could operate. The city argued that the businesses create criminal activity and should be restricted.

In 2015, the city’s lawsuit went to federal court with one last-minute change following complaints involving zoning code restrictions that the businesses said were so tight, they made it practically impossible to move elsewhere in the city.

In response, the city quietly changed the zoning code to allow adult businesses in more areas, allowing “adult establishments” that satisfy permit requirements to operate in “all overlay districts.”

Three businesses that have since closed in Sandy Springs, the adult bookstore Inserection and the strip clubs Mardi Gras and Flashers, lost a federal court appeal of their lawsuit claiming the city’s restrictions were unconstitutional in 2017. The businesses claimed the city was violating the First and Fourteenth Amendments and trying to force them out.

Only one store selling adult entertainment items remains open within city limits, Love Shack located at 5674 Roswell Road. No strip clubs are still open within city limits.

Sex shops also challenged a city ban on sex toys in 2016. After several appeals, the city reversed the law in 2017 days after a federal court agreed to decide whether the law was unconstitutional.

Hannah Greco

Hannah Greco is writer and media communications specialist based in Atlanta.