Second Elgin pawn shop eyes Elgin council’s OK
By Mike Danahey email@example.com July 10, 2012 7:00PM
Updated: August 12, 2012 6:21AM
ELGIN — If city council members vote tonight as they did two weeks ago, the city should see the opening of its second pawn shop later this year.
In a 4-3 vote June 27, the council moved forward zoning approval allowing EZPAWN Illinois Inc. to lease the vacant commercial building at 1460 Main Lane, within the Town and Country Shopping Center, under the name Easy Cash Solutions.
The terms of the conditional use agreement would prohibit the pawn shop from trading in weapons, ammunition, or explosives of any kind. It couldn’t trade in regulated drug and/or smoking related paraphernalia of any kind, either, or store goods outdoors.
The pawn shop also could not offer additional financial services that are not customary and traditional to a pawn shop, including fee-based check cashing, payday loans, vehicle title loans and currency exchange services.
Easy Cash Solutions would be allowed to deal in items such as jewelry, musical instruments, electronics and other personal property.
The council tonight also is to consider amending the municipal code to permit a second shop in town. The rules in place require approval and licensing of pawn shops on a case-by-case basis.
Two weeks ago, Councilman Robert Gilliam voted against the measure, saying that having another pawn shop in town would be bad for the city’s image and that its presence would not be the will of neighbors.
Mayor Dave Kaptain voted for conditional use zoning. Kaptain noted he lives just three blocks from Windy City Jewelry & Loan, 943 N. McLean Blvd., which opened in January 2011, and that there have been no issues with it for his neighborhood.
Councilman John Prigge pointed out that Windy City is the first pawn shop in Elgin in 57 years. He felt the council should wait another year to consider another pawn shop and was concerned approval for the new business would lead to more pawn shop applications.
Voting “yes” along with Kaptain were Councilman John Steffen and Councilwomen Tish Powell and Anna Moeller, with Councilman Rich Dunne the other “no” vote.
A handful of area residents have been the most vocal opponents of allowing the second pawn shop, noting the proliferation of cash for gold and payday loan places in the area.
But proponents have noted pawn shops are more tightly regulated and offer terms more favorable to borrowers.
Powell said she has been to Windy City, complimented what they offer to sell, and cautioned against assuming only poor people patronize such places.
At Windy City, customers take out loans for 60 days each and give a shop merchandise as collateral to guarantee that loan. If the customer doesn’t pay off the loan, the item becomes the property of the shop and is set out for sale in the shop’s showroom.
Shops charge about 3 percent interest per month, or the equivalent of 36 percent a year on pawn loans.
The shop doesn’t check on the customer’s credit history; and if someone defaults on the loan, that is not reported to the credit bureaus. Windy City charges a variable fee to cover the cost of storing and insuring each item. Customers must present photo ID, and the serial number of each item is recorded.