coronavirus pandemic

Pawn Shops, Essential or Not?

Dallas County Commissioners insist alternative financial options are necessary in COVID-19 orders

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The debate over what businesses are essential in the coronavirus pandemic has given a green light to pawn shops, check cashing stores and payday lenders.

Eddie Hughes, who runs Casa View Pawn Shop on Gus Thomasson Road in Northeast Dallas, says customers need his service now more than ever.

“We have people that are low income. They need money to buy groceries and food for their families. We deal with a lot of people that don't have bank accounts and they live week to week,” Hughes said.

Banks have always been considered essential through the debate over which businesses should close to promote social distancing in the fight against coronavirus.

Hughes and other pawn shops operators say they too provide essential services.

Many of them remained open under that assumption while neighboring businesses closed.

A revised list that took effect Monday in Dallas County specifically allows pawn shops, along with check cashing stores and payday lenders.

Democratic Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price has opposed many of the small business restrictions that he said cripple his Southern Dallas County district.

“We are disproportionately impacted,” Price said at Tuesday’s meeting.

Price said many of his neighbors rely on pawn shops and other alternatives for cash.

“Those individuals that historically have not had access, even in good times, to financial institutions,” Price said.

Democratic Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, who has disaster authority, first mandated stay-at-home orders that closed many businesses.

Jenkins said he is sympathetic to pain caused by closures, but he argues that health experts believe the best path to economic recovery is strong social-distancing for now.

The other four county commissioners Tuesday imposed limits on Jenkins, requiring that he first get approval from them for further restrictions beyond April 30.

“We are a part of this family. We are a part of this county and we have not been kept in the loop,” said County Commissioner Theresa Daniel, also a Democrat.

Republican Commissioner JJ Koch read a portion of revised regulations the others support.

“To allow the opening of pawn shops for the issuance of cash flows on property under the restriction of a one customer at a time basis,” Koch said.

As sellers looking for cash continue visiting Casa View Pawn Shop, there are fewer buyers of merchandise than there used to be.

Like many other small business people, Hughes said he is concerned about the economy. Remaining open in the corona virus pandemic, Hughes said he is also concerned about the health of his customers and his family.

“It hasn't directly affected me, but you never know when that could happen, at any time,” he said.

The owner is limiting the number of people in his business and asking them to keep their distance, while still providing service.

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