If you can't beat 'em, buy 'em. That's the strategy they City of Ramsey chose to pursue after several unsuccessful attempts to shut down an adult book store.
Buying the bright green building bearing the red XXX sign many equated with a billboard advertising smut may seem an unusual way to clean up the town's appearance, but the last thing the city wanted was another adult-themed business moving in once the decades-old business opted to sell.
Residents say it's been an eyesore since the day it opened.
"My first memories of that place was going north fishing, always seeing that store there," said Rob Leeson.
Now, the building's infamous signs have been taken down.
"I'd always see that green building with the three Xs on the outside," Tyler Prater recalled. "I was like, 'Mom, what does that mean over there?'"
The lurid landmark is now little more than a memory, but the store became synonymous with driving directions.
"It's one of those things where people, as they're driving down the road, they'd say, 'Turn by the XXX bookstore,' because it sticks out and was very prominent," explained Ramsey City Administrator Kurt Ulrich.
For customers on the way to the Super Bowl, that made for a few uncomfortable moments.
"We've seen guys, like, wearing trench coats and fedoras to hide who they are. They'll walk in there then walk out and drive over here and ask where our ATM is," Prater said.
That's part of the reason why the City of Ramsey wasted no time ponying up the $361,000 to buy the building and demolish it in the hopes of improving the curb appeal of Highway 10 and bringing in a new business.
"It just, I think, became a little bit of a thorn in peoples' sides over the years," Ulrich said. "Something that they used as a landmark and it was prominent but not necessarily something that the city was proud to be known for."
The adult bookstore served as an awkward locator for 23 years and provoked many uncomfortable conversations between parents and kids on the way up to cabin country. In the early years of its operation, there was a fierce fight to try to close the place down -- but its eventual demise may have had more to do with dollars and cents than a change in moral value.
The owner, who is 87 years old, told people he simply decided it was time to retire. It's been a fairly quiet operation since it opened in 1990, but the building was nearing the end of its useful life. So, he sold it and said goodbye -- but his customers had one last look at his wares after all was said and done.
"We'd watch," Prater explained. "The people would park the car in front of our building and run across the street and Dumpster dive for things in the Dumpster -- and bring a lot of stuff back to their cars and drive away."
Now, the city hopes to resell the one-acre lot and start over. Officials are accepting bids to demolish the building.