Risqué window display causing controversy

Blowup doll display

COEBURN, Virginia - A flower shop's window display of an inflatable doll wearing a party dress, lying in bed, surrounded by empty wine and pill bottles is creating quite the controversy in Coeburn, Virginia.

"It's shocking. I've never seen something like that on display in Coeburn," said Brenda Stanley, a resident.

The message on the window reads, "You never send me flowers any more."

"What we were trying to say is this poor girl is in her bed, drinking her wine and taking pills to forget it's Valentine's Day because no one sent her flowers," explained co-owners Edward Sturgill and Elijah Penn. They said the window is an exaggeration to encourage people to send flowers and make someone happy on February 14.

"A lot of people are just looking at the negativity of it and dwelling on the negative and not seeing the whole picture," said Alicia Yates, a Coeburn resident. "It's just a gimmick. That's all it is."

The window display at The Flower Bed was set up about a week ago; but on Monday, the community started to speak out on Facebook saying it was too provocative. "We live in the Bible Belt. It goes against our views and values here," said Tammi Robinson, a resident who disagrees with the display.

A couple of changes have been made to the display, including removing the pill bottles and some of the wine bottles. "We didn't want people to think we were promoting suicide or alcoholism," said Sturgill. "We never meant to offend a single person."

Sturgill said nothing in the window is illegal and he considers his displays to be modern, cutting edge and thought-provoking. "If people walk by your windows and keep walking, then you've done nothing to inspire them to think or have any emotional conclusion of any kind," he said.

"I think he's getting the publicity he wants, but in the wrong way," said Robinson.

Sturgill said the reason for using an inflatable doll is simply economics. "It was $20, compared to a $250 for a mannequin," he said.

And Penn said she's here to stay. "We've been threatened and harassed and been talked bad about. So now, it's about standing a stand: this is our window and we're going to keep it," he said.

Because of some backlash, the labels were removed from the wine bottles because they came from a local winery that has no association with the window display.

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