New Petition for “DC Council: Stop treating record stores and vintage stores like pawn shops”

Thanks to all who sent links requesting to post this petition:

On April 4, officials with the DC Office of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) and the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) raided a number of Adams Morgan and U Street-area businesses that sell vintage and used goods, threatening them with fines and closure for operating without a secondhand business license. This license is intended to regulate pawn shops, to safeguard against the selling of stolen goods.

The regulations would require shops like Meeps, Idle Time Books, GoodWood, and Miss Pixies — as well as all the record stores in town — to submit to MPD’s pawn unit a detailed list of goods acquired each time they make a purchase. Additionally, MPD wants the stores to hold items for 15 days for police inspection before they can be sold. These requirements introduce a regulatory load which helps no one and threatens the existence of the small businesses that make DC unique.

DC’s secondhand business regulations are outdated, unnecessarily burdensome, and overly broad. A lawyer working with DC’s small business community has proposed amendments to the regulations that would bring them up to date and carve out exemptions for the businesses described above.

Please add your name to this petition to request that the City Council pass emergency legislation that would provide 90 days of relief and time to establish a permanent exemption for businesses that sell used and vintage goods. It’s vital that this happen to re-establish a sense of trust between local government and the businesses that drive our local economy.

22 Comment

  • This seems like a reasonable and good law to me. Don’t those stores keep detailed records of what they purchase anyway? You’d have to wonder where the city is then supposed to draw the line.

    Incidentally, one of my friends had his house broken into about 10 years ago and a mirror that was stolen ended up at that Reincarnations store.

  • #Hipsterproblems

      • #hipsterproblems? Ah no, DC aka Dystopia City is guilty of the absolute most insanely stupid enforcement and it seems like there is a monthly example of this ridiculousness. WTF? Incredible!

    • Ya, independent businesses suck. Why can’t we get more Wallmarts in these small storefronts?

  • Leave it to DC to enforce laws that have no benefit and not enforce the important laws.

  • When I first moved to DC and was unloading our truck, someone grabbed half my cd collection when I wasn’t looking. We were in Adams Morgan, and so the next day I went down to DC CD on 18th, asked if anyone had sold a large number of cds, and described the collection. Sure enough, they were there behind the counter. They were totally cool about it, and after some rigamarole getting a police report (which DC CD needed for insurance), I got my cds back.

    Bottom line is that people do sell stolen goods to record stores. I got my stuff back mostly because the owners of DC CD were helpful and reasonable. I can easily see a different outcome if the store had been run by jerks. The existing laws seem reasonable to me.

  • the old lady that owns idle time books is a jerk.

  • What is the difference between a vintage store and a pawn shop? Is it that the pawn shop deals with higher priced goods? (Being serious here.)

    • One of the problems here is how the city handled this (shocking, I know). The law has been on the books for years and the city has rarely, if ever, enforced it. Then, instead of being reasonable and oh, say, sending a letter to the businesses in question saying, “hey we’re going to start enforcing this law in 30 days so get it together” they went in with inspectors and cops. And it’s not like they reviewed any of the inventory, just the licenses. A little diplomacy goes a long way.

      • I dont think the cops send letters.

        And the text PoP quoted said “raid”. Seems a bit unnecessary to call it a raid. Unless they busted in Eliot Ness style, it wasnt a raid. It was a visit.

        • No, cops don’t send letters, but DCRA should, to free up our police force to catch real criminals, instead of harassing small businesses.

      • Okay, so this was handled poorly by the city and has caused much grief for the affected merchants… But the petition is not asking for a 30 day heads up. It’s asking to permanantly exempt these stores from the same laws that govern pawn shops.

        So the question is – what makes a vintage store different than a pawn shop? Price of goods? Anything else?

        • Unless, it is a consignment shop they probably aren’t buying stuff from people off the street. I am not entirely sure but I don’t think Miss Pixies or Meeps’ business model is to buy things from people that come into the store. That is a pretty large distinction from a pawn shop. Places that buy, sell and trade CDs or books I would say are very similar to a pawn shop.

      • yeah, I’m still baffled at why/how a police officer (allegedly a detective, of all things) sneaked in (or was assigned) to hit these stores with the DCRA gnome. I would LOVE to find out the story behind that, because it’s totally non-protocol, and neither the press nor the cops seem to be coming forward with any explanation.

    • Visit a few pawn shops and vintage stores and you will instantly know the difference.

      For starters many of the items in pawn shops have serial numbers and they almost never sell used clothing or reading materials.

      Jewelry is the only reasonable thing I can see to hold to the pawn shop standard of scrutiny.

      CDs are a slight grey area, but again without a serial number the police will not lift a finger in a criminal investigation so why should there be a requirement that they should be able to inspect them for 15 days before a store can sell them?

      Rare books might be illegally traded in this context but those are rare and unknown to pawn shop level thieves.

  • I am OK with this.

  • It seems that if there is going to be an exemption, it should be based on the source of the goods being sold rather than the type of the store. Business owners like Miss Pixie, who expressly do no accept inventory from individuals, could warrant an exemption. However, stores that do accept individual’s items or items on consignment should still be expected to keep records for the same reason as pawn shops.

  • I for one am shocked that the dc government would create a law and enforce fines for a law that hurts store owners, protects no one, is unenforceable because the city wont actually do it’s part, makes no sense and continues to make the city look like a clown troupe. Shocked!!! Reeeeeeaaaalllly shocked.

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