Don’t Treat Store As a Pawn Shop

Moundsville City Council members plan to discuss a municipal ordinance on pawn shops during their Nov. 12 meeting. In the meantime, the owner of a business has to deal with a citation for failing to comply with the regulation.

Obviously, it would be unfair to Mike Pierson, owner of The Treasure Chest on Jefferson Avenue, for court action to proceed until it is known whether council decides to amend the ordinance.

Council should do just that.

Pierson took his concerns about the ordinance to council last month. He explained his store is not a pawn shop. He merely buys and resells merchandise. He does not provide loans with items brought into the store held as collateral. Most reasonable people would agree Pierson is not operating a pawn shop.

But city officials have said Pierson is required to fill out pawn cards for any valuable items he buys, then hold the merchandise for 10 days before selling it. Police Chief Tom Mitchell explained requiring documentation and a delay in sale can help his department track stolen goods.

Since Pierson protested being classed as a pawn shop, he has received a citation from the city for not maintaining the required documentation. During a city council meeting this week, Pierson said he is scheduled to appear Thursday in Marshall County Magistrate Court for a hearing on the matter.

City Attorney Thomas White advised Pierson to ask for a continuance in the case until the ordinance can be discussed further with municipal officials.

Again, that continuance should be granted.

While the police department’s desire to restrict sales of used items is understandable, it appears Pierson is being singled out. To our knowledge, other stores that merely buy and sell used merchandise are not required to operate as pawn shops.

Pierson has said complying with the ordinance would hurt his business severely. It is easy to see why.

Surely some arrangement can be made whereby Pierson and police can work together to identify any stolen items sold to his store. But forcing him – and no one else in the same type of business – to operate as a pawn shop doesn’t make sense. Council should change the ordinance.