Lawmaker wants public restroom access at businesses statewide

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - A house panel is now debating requiring all shops and retailers statewide to open restrooms to the public. Small businesses worry it could be a costly mandate, but potential customers like the idea.

The signs "No Public Restrooms" are posted around area businesses.

"You usually have to be a customer of restaurants or wherever you're going," Tara Plocharczyk said.

"You don't really want to be shopping then you can't really go to the bathroom,"  Mariel Ghotam said.

A proposed state house bill will require retailers to provide restroom access saying restrooms, "must be available for use by purchasers or prospective purchasers entering this place of business upon their request."

Local clothing boutique Scout and Molly's of Charleston say they have a restroom and allow patrons to use it, but the business is small and privately owned.

"The additional cost with water bills and cleanliness factor, we keep up with it now, but if it were open to anybody I definitely feel like it would definitely be more of a task than it is now," manager and buyer Sarah Johnston said.

State Representative Robert Williams says he filed the bill after shopping with his elderly relative at a discount store without a public restroom, and they had to leave when she needed to use one.

"Every customer that walks through that door will not use the bathroom, I'm talking about in cases where folks really need to go. It may require a little expense, but it's not that costly to make this happen," Rep. Williams said.

Downtown patrons say the mandate could help business and promote tourism.

"That's just another amenity for their customers to have, I think it's a good thing," Daniel Matthews said.

"It would keep them from having to go back to their hotel or cruise ship, It would keep them out on the street shopping," Meghan Matthews said.

Representative Williams says in his research he found out a handful of states have passed similar measures require retailers to provide restroom access.

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