Don’t Handicap Local Business

Most people probably would agree that Mike Pierson’s store in Moundsville is not a pawn shop. Pierson buys used items and re-sells them. He does not provide loans with merchandise as collateral.

Yet the city classifies Pierson’s store, The Treasure Chest, as a pawn shop.

During a City Council meeting this week, Pierson told officials that if the classification is maintained, it will “financially destroy” his business.

Rules for pawn shops require that Pierson fill out pawn cards for any valuable items, such as some jewelry and television sets, people sell to the store. Then, Pierson must retain the items for at least 10 days, even if someone wants to buy them.

His concern is understandable. But Police Chief Tom Mitchell explained the pawn shop rules can be useful in tracking stolen goods. Maintaining information about who sold them to a shop, then avoiding sale of the goods for 10 days, can help police catch thieves.

It also was mentioned during the meeting that stolen property had been identified in Pierson’s store. City attorney Thomas White said that was one reason for classifying the establishment as a pawn shop.

Pierson argued he tries to work with police “for big items, but I don’t think if I buy a set of pots and pans, I should have to report” to them.

Clearly, Pierson’s store is not a pawn shop as most people would define the term. And it is not difficult to understand why he believes having to operate under pawn shop rules would be a substantial handicap for his business.

Surely some means of allowing Pierson to operate as other resale stores do can be found, especially given his declared desire to work with the police department. Before forcing him to obey pawn shop rules, city officials should try an alternative.