Many D.C. second-hand stores to get licensing break

D.C. dealers of second-hand wares are subject to more licensing scrutiny than other retailers. The reason being, some of those items may be hot.

Sellers are fingerprinted. They keep daily inventory logs (an account of every sale must be “legibly written in English at the time of the transaction and numbered consecutively”). They regularly report to the police.

Or, at least, they’re supposed to. There are roughly 90 second-hand licensees in D.C. Many more shops than that deal in second-hand stuff.

A series of April compliance checks of a handful of second-hand stores in Adams Morgan found those businesses did not have second-hand licenses. Business owners, who claim they were raided, launched a petition demanding the D.C. Council pass emergency legislation exempting stores that sell “used and vintage goods,” like Idle Times Books and Crooked Beat Records, from the licensing regulations.

Their complaints were heard. Rules proposed June 1 by the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs will exempt sellers of certain items — books, magazines, vinyl records, cassette tapes, compact discs, video tapes, pianos, paintings, sculptures, DVDs, pianos, rugs or tapestries, used clothing, and rebuilt or refurbished merchandise — from the second-hand rules. Instead, they will only need to obtain a general business license.

Dealers of jewelry and electronics, and any other item not included on the above list, will continue to be subject to DCRA’s second-hand policies.

DCRA has pledged not to penalize the dealers that were inspected in April, so long as the rules are adopted, likely within 30 days.

“Resolution of this issue is a top priority for my business licensing staff and we will not be taking enforcement action against the affected business owners until our revised proposed regulations are issued as final regulations,” Eric Rogers, acting administrator of DCRA’s businesses and professional licensing administration, wrote Monday to Councilman Jim Graham, D-Ward 1, Kristen Barden of the Adams Morgan Partnership and Robert Clayton, a lawyer representing the affected dealers.


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