To allow Claire’s, Naperville makes ear piercing legal in the downtown

Since Naperville’s zoning laws did not allow body piercings, it recently changed the provision about ear piercings for a new Claire’s downtown:

Naperville will now allow ear piercing to take place within its borders, but other body piercing remains prohibited.

The move came after a request from Claire’s Boutiques, Inc., which recently opened a shop in downtown Naperville. The company estimates it performs 3.7 million ear piercings annually at its stores around the world.

City councilmen voted 7-0 in favor of removing ear piercing from the definition of body piercing in city ordinances.

Zoning laws are often used to keep undesirable uses out of a community. For a relatively wealthy community like Naperville (median household income around $101,000), places that do body piercing do not project the kind of image the city desires. Many places will not allow spaces for tattoo parlors but apparently body piercing businesses also have some undesirable traits. I’m now curious how many suburbs don’t allow businesses to do body piercings, particularly ear piercings.

So why would Naperville reverse itself? Two things could be at play: a new business opened downtown that would benefit from changed rules and ear piercings don’t exactly conjure up the same negative images as other body piercings might. While it sounds like this change was because of Claire’s, a relatively non-threatening place more associated with shopping malls and young female consumers (adding to downtown Naperville’s mall-ification), I wonder if anyone else will take advantage of this change and promote a different kind of image than Claire’s.