CHERI LEE, Kilkenny’s only adult shop is closing down. After 13 years of trading a combination of rates, rents, and according owner Richie Cullen, the borough council have forced him out of business.
“Its a leisure business” said Mr Cullen “leisure is the first thing people cut back on.” Mr Cullen said that things had been going well until January but since then things have really fallen off. Mr Cullen had done his best to beat the recession. He’d moved premises, expanded the selection of merchandise and kept his prices as competitive as possible but he’s been unable to beat the down turn and change peoples perceptions of the sex industry.
“People are afraid to come into the shop and its a shame really because its just an ordinary shop,” said Mr Cullen who is under no illusions as to the prejudices people had against Cheri Lee. “When I came down here first I was only two steps above a drug dealer, but then as things changed I was an entrepreneur,” he said. “I started working at 15 and the only people with a bit of money then were the self-employed. When things were good I was doing OK but there’s no safety net for the self-employed. There are people out there who have never worked a day in their lives and now they are better off than me.”
The shop did very for a number of years in its previous premises on Parliament Street, but after ten years of operation Mr Cullen was served with a notice by the planning department of Kilkenny Borough Council regarding a sign he had erected outside the premises. The dispute led Mr Cullen to relocate to Pennefeather lane.
Mr Cullen believes that Kilkenny Borough Council have a lot to answer for. “When things were good they didn’t want the hens and stags but now they will take anything they can get,” he said. “The county council haven’t been held responsible. The only people who haven’t suffered are the councillors.”