Resale Shops Concerned Over Planned Ordinance

The Madison Common Council is scheduled to vote on Tuesday on a new ordinance that they say would help police to better track the sale of potentially stolen merchandise.

But not everyone is thrilled about the law changes, and it’s not just criminals that are upset. In particular, stores that sell used CDs and DVDs say that the rules changes are unfair, biased, and don’t make sense.

If passed, the new ordinance would require secondhand businesses like Madison’s Frugal Muse Books to pay higher licensing and transaction fees that they say would severely impact their abilities to run their stores. For example, Frugal Muse founder Dave Danielson pays a license to run a resale shop. But under the new ordinance, his license fees would increase exponentially.

“The annual license fee used to be $62.52, and now it’s going to be $500,” said Danielson.

The new rules require shops like Frugal Muse to provide electronic purchase records to police.

The higher fees paid by the stores will cover the city’s end of the cost.

Alder Paul Skidmore from District 9 said computerized records will help officers identify and track thieves selling stolen goods.

“The information is submitted on paper right now, and it just takes an incredible amount of time to review it,” said Skidmore.

Skidmore said that there can be no doubt that resale of stolen merchandise through secondhand stores is happening.

“If somebody is selling, you know, 16 Wiis on one day, 12 Wiis two days later, and another dozen a couple days later, there’s a pattern there,” said Skidmore.

Karl Hattman, district manager for Pawn America, claims that his company isn’t against the ordinance, but his company isn’t exactly happy about Tuesday’s scheduled vote.

Hattman said that not only will the license fees go up for the store on Madison’s East Side, but as a pawn shop, they’ll have to pay the city a dollar for anything they buy, even if it’s a compact disc that will resell for 99 cents.

So, Pawn America has launched a postcard campaign, hoping that its customers will tell the city council ‘No To Increased Fees.’

“We want, you know, fair and equitable treatment,” said Hattman, noting that “we’ve got so far over 2,000 signatures.”

But will the campaign work? Well, maybe.

Skidmore said the council might consider exempting certain items from the pawn store transaction fees, but he&’s adamant that the intent of the ordinance is based on proven criminal behavior — behavior that he says goes to support hard drug use.

In response, Danielson said his customers are mostly looking for store credit on items they sell, and they’re not supporting any habit harder other than a love of music, movies and books.

So, Danielson would like to see store credit exempted from the mandated reporting, along with just one license fee that would cover both of his area stores.

Skidmore and others will meet with secondhand dealers on Monday to possibly refine the ordinance proposal further before it is taken up by the council on Tuesday.