These days, life’s not a party at Party City.
The retail chain, which has three stores in the borough, was forced to fork over $500,000 for selling realistic-looking toy guns last week, according to the city’s Department of Consumer Affairs.
Along with the settlement, Party City promised to pay for an independent monitor who would hold unannounced visits at area stores over the next year to assure that the realistic-looking toy guns don’t find themselves back on the shelves. The city will also be able to increase their fines from $1,000 to $2,000 if the toy guns are found in Party City stores again.
The settlement money will go into the city’s coffers, a spokesperson for the Department of Consumer Affairs said.
“Right now the city could use it,” the spokesperson said.
The settlement, which was announced just before Halloween, stemmed from charges launched in April 2008, when the city hit Party City owners with 800 counts of violating the city’s imitation gun law.
Officials said that the realistic looking toy guns were found in Party City stores throughout the five boroughs, including the three Brooklyn locations at 3797 Nostrand Avenue in Sheepshead Bay, 2183 Ralph Avenue in Georgetowne and 625 Atlantic Avenue in downtown Brooklyn.
According to the law, it is illegal to sell or offer to sell any toy guns that can be “reasonably perceived to be an actual firearm.”
The law was created back in the early 1990s after the city suffered through repeated cases of children being killed by police officers who thought that the realistic looking toy gun in their hand was an actual firearm.
Currently, stores can only sell toy guns if the guns are bright – and sometimes garish — colors like bright red, bright orange, bright green. Toy guns also now come in white, blue, yellow and purple.
This is the second time that Party City faced city scrutiny over the toy guns they keep in stock.
In 2003, Party City had to pay $150,000 in fines for violating the imitation gun law.
“Fake guns that look real aren’t toys. In fact, they’re so dangerous that selling them is illegal,” Consumer Affairs Commissioner Jonathan Mintz said in a statement. “The city is committed to cracking down on every single violator of this public safety law and will seek maximum penalties when businesses fail to get the message.”
Since 2002, DCA enforcement teams have removed more than 7,000 guns from the shelves of more than 220 stores throughout the city, and levied $3.3 million in fines.
More than 95 percent of stores that were issued violations in the past were in compliance upon follow-up inspections, officials said.