Pawn Duluth Voices Concern over Duluth's Proposed Pawn Shop Ordinance

By KBJR News 1

February 6, 2013 Updated Feb 6, 2013 at 9:45 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) - The draft ordinance, which was introduced by Fourth Council District member Gary Krause, is at the request of Pawn America's Central Entrance location.

Pawn America Spokesperson Chuck Armstrong says it would be a "great move" by the city council, and that Duluth is the only community in 23 they serve that doesn't allow pawns or purchases on Sunday.

"We have a lot of door swings on Sunday. A lot of people come here... purchasing items from us, and we would also like to have our full repertoire of services available to all of our customers," said Tom Padgett, Manager of the Central Entrance location during Wednesday's business rush.

Armstrong also says the move is one requested by their customers, and that often people are too busy Monday through Saturday with family, work, or other activities to make it into the store for a collateral recourse loan, or pawn.

"It's all about customers," added Padgett, "that's what we're all about. We're here to service people."

But Pawn Duluth owner Adam Bohlmann sees it differently, calling it a power grab on Pawn America's part. The family-owned 1st Street business--open Monday through Saturday--sees its busiest day on Monday, says Bohlmann.

"And it's our busiest day because we're doing two days of business on one day," said Bohlmann in the midst of Wednesday's store traffic, "and what they're trying to do is... hope that we stay closed on Sunday, and take... half the business that we'd do... and half the business that the [Lincoln Park Pawn] would do on Monday."

Bohlmann added that, out of the 20,000 or so customers they have in their registry, not one has ever asked him to remain open on Wednesday.

Bolhmann also says the freedom to have a day off in the work week is something Duluthians should be proud of.

"I would think Duluth should be proud that it's the only community out of 26 to stand up for small, locally owned businesses, and not allow corporate America to just come in and crush their locally–owned shops," said Bohlmann.

Both Bohlmann and Lincoln Park Pawn manager Rocky Levy also agree that they're concerned with the ability to compete while being able to afford to stay open an extra day.

"We run with two employees, so it's a small shop," said Bohlman, "and it works out that right now they're getting 40 hours a week. So if we have to stay open on Sundays, we're going into time and a half."

While Armstrong says he recognizes the concern that both pawn stores have, he says it's all about location. While Pawn Duluth and Lincoln Park Pawn may not hear the Sunday loan and pawn requests, Armstrong says it's about what they are hearing from their customers.

Armstrong added that there is no law that says it's mandatory to stay open on Sunday.

While the draft ordinance has yet to make Monday's Duluth City Council agenda, according to councilor Dan Hartman, he expects it to be before then given the attention it has received.

People will be able to voice their opinion at Monday's council meeting in Duluth City Hall. Bohlmann says he plans on being there.

- Posted to the Web by Billy Wagness