New Hot Springs t-shirt store stirring up controversy, city attorney stepping in

HOT SPRINGS (KATV) - Hot Springs was more than just a name Thursday as some residents and tourists got fired up over a store's t-shirts.

Springswear has only been around a month and its already getting backlash from some residents who say the store isn't family-friendly.

"We're really surprised that so much has been made of a couple of t-shirts," said Janet Ford, manager of the store.

It's not the kind of welcoming the new store on the block was expecting. Supposedly angry tourists and residents were so upset about some offensive t-shirts that calls were put in to city officials.

"No one has said one thing to us about anything being offensive," said Ford.

The t-shirts, which were described as lewd and vulgar, are forcing the mayor and city attorney to write up a new ordinance.

"It's just a blanket thing we'll put out so people will know we have it and then we won't have to deal with it every time something happens," said Hot Springs Mayor, Ruth Carney.

But the tourists we spoke to say the city is overreacting.

"You should be able to wear whatever t-shirt you want and you should be able to sell whatever t-shirt you want," said Emily Resnevic, of Rhode Island. "I don't think that there should be such a big deal around it."

Terrence Wilson, also a tourist, agreed.

"If you're in Miami you see them, if you're in Memphis you see them," he said. "Anywhere you go you're going to see shirts like that. If you don't want to buy them you don't have to"

Carlos Davis, a parent of five, says the city is blowing things out of proportion.

"If they want to have it in the store, then I mean that's what that's there for. You go in, you make your own choices of what you want to buy," he said.

We spoke to several business owners on the strip, all had no problem with the t-shirts.

"I think it's a little silly," said Mickie Martin. "Give tourists what they want. If they don't want to buy it, they don't have to go in."

But the store says the last thing it wants to do is stir up controversy.

"We would never want to be offensive to anyone," said Ford.

They've taken down the t-shirts and put them in a backroom where people can decide for themselves if they want to see them.

"We can police ourselves without having to have an ordinance," she said.

The mayor says they will have an ordinance will be written up soon.