The awning’s out, the shelves are stocked; all that’s missing are the customers. But the pawnshop cleared to open at the corner of Georgia Avenue and Fern Street in NW, has yet to garner unanimous neighborhood support.
Several dozen protesters stood on the corner of Georgia and Fern Saturday to call on the city to revoke the license granted to Famous Pawn, a Texas based company looking to add to its list of outlets in the DC area. “I’m not against pawnshops,” said neighborhood resident Andre Carley. “In certain areas they’re wonderful, they’re like secondary banks, but do we need one here, no.”
Those in the industry say their businesses have seen a surge in popularity, partly because of the economy, and partly because of the TV show “Pawn Stars.” They also say they’re battling image problems - often seen as shady operations catering to criminals - while in reality, the more reputable ones work closely with police cross checking lists of stolen property.
Still, residents of the upper Georgia Avenue corridor say they’re already fending off a proposed Wal Mart in their midst. They also worry that with the closing of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, as mandated by a recent BRAC decision, bigger changes may be on the horizon, and they say a pawnshop may make other would-be merchants look elsewhere.
Sara Green, the Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner for the area, also questions the process by which the shop got its license.
“We believe we made a good case [against it] and we also believe the regulations the city now has in place don’t support a license, yet the city issued a license,” said Green.
DC Mayor Vince Gray, when asked about the controversy, said as far as he knows, the business has been granted a legitimate license and should be allowed to open.
Though he did say he would instruct the head of the city’s regulatory agency to take a look at the matter.
Meanwhile, the opponents say they’ll seek court action if they have to.