“The economic turmoil of the last few years has shaken consumers and rocked retailers. Now there are some signs that shoppers are spending again – cautiously. But they aren’t always going to the mall. Instead, they’re hanging out at lifestyle centers, mixing in entertainment and exercise with their browsing, and popping into pop-up stores that sprout like dandelions in vacant storefronts. Plus, would you buy your fresh fish from a truck, and a birthday gift from a pawn shop?”
By Beth Healy
Boston Globe | Globe Staff
May 08, 2013
Kevin Kish chatted with regular customer Sherry Kelly at his consignment store, The Closet, on Newbury Street in Boston.
Kevin Kish is holding court at a sunny table outside his Newbury Street consignment store. Friends and neighboring business owners shout hellos from the sidewalk while he does paperwork. Customers drop off Coach bags and Prada shoes, hoping to sell them and split the proceeds with Kish.
One day soon, Kish may be required to photograph his upscale customers for the police, along with every black dress and designer bag they bring in for him to sell. It’s a prospect the 35-year owner of The Closet is dreading — and pushing back against.
“I want to build customers,’’ Kish said. “I feel like this policy could hurt me.”
He has the backing of other consignment store owners, and sympathy from officials who say the stepped-up scrutiny of secondhand stores was aimed at pawn brokers, and seems to have mistakenly ensnared consignment shops.
“It was really geared to pawn shops,’’ said City Councilor John Connolly, who cosponsored a city ordinance that has not yet passed, calling for some of the measures police are already implementing. “There are some people out there who are trafficking in a lot of stolen goods, and it’s just no questions asked. That’s what we’re trying to change,’’ said Connolly, a candidate for mayor.
‘I want to know that they are legitimately selling their own clothes and that there is nothing stolen.’
Kish was one of 90 secondhand store owners in the city who received a letter from the Boston Police Department in early April informing them of the new rules: Photograph each customer and their identification, as well as their goods, and describe each item they’re selling on an online database. About 40 owners showed up at a meeting late last month in Hyde Parkwith a police lieutenant to go over the requirements. There were plenty of questions.
“Generally speaking, most of the dealers seemed to understand the new rules,’’ police spokeswoman Cheryl Fiandaca said in an e-mail. But “some raised concerns regarding taking photos of customers and maintaining electronic files for three years,” she acknowledged.
Taking information from clients in the secondhand goods business is standard practice for many merchants.
Kish, for instance, keeps all his consigners’ names and contact information on a computer, as well as the clothing and accessories he is selling on their behalf. (He has not, he confesses, filled out old “blue sheets” listing items by hand and turning them over to the police in about a decade.)
As for potential thieves trying to fence stolen goods, Kish said he goes by his gut. He knows his clients personally and has turned away strangers who appeared to be selling items lifted from another store. He feels that taking clients’ photos would be offputting to them, as well as a burden to his employees.
Michael Goldstein, owner and chief executive of Empire Loan, one of the largest pawn businesses in the Boston area, takes a different view.
He said that for 20 years he has snapped pictures of customers who come in to borrow money using their belongings as collateral, or to sell jewelry and other goods.
He keeps the photos on file, in case the police come looking for someone. But he does not like the idea of turning them all over to authorities automatically.
The Closet, a consignment store in Boston, may be required under law to photograph customers and items they sell.
“I am a little troubled thinking about police looking through pages and pages of people selling things or borrowing money,’’ said Goldstein, who also attended the Hyde Park meeting.
Indeed, there could be legal challenges to the proposed practice. David Yannetti, a criminal defense lawyer in Boston, said, “What right do the police have to conduct an essentially warrantless search of the records of consignment shops and pawn brokers?” He added, “It seems absurd on its face.”
Yannetti said people should be mindful of not giving up their civil liberties following the Marathon bombings and resulting heightened security in some areas.
While the new secondhand store rules predate the bombings, police may be mindful that the mother of alleged attackers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was arrested and accused of shoplifting last summer. She also was a consignment store customer, according to two people familiar with her shopping habits, who asked not to be named for fear of worrying other customers.
Chris Cassel is owner of The Garment District, a secondhand clothing store in Cambridge. Though he works and lives in the neighborhood where the Tsarnaevs resided, he said he never saw the mother in his store.
Cambridge is not subject to the Boston rules, but Cassel said he requires an ID when people sell their clothes to his store. “I want to know that they are legitimately selling their own clothes and that there is nothing stolen,’’ he said.
But he considers taking pictures of people and their clothes as another matter. “That would seem to be very difficult,’’ he said. “I don’t even know how you would physically do it.”
Fiandaca said, “The aim of the rule change is to give police timely, accurate information about the property for sale or consignment and the people offering the items to pawnbrokers and secondhand article dealers.’’
Goldstein of Empire Loan said police sometimes find store records, cataloging items for sale, useful in their investigations of home and apartment burglaries. They can check inventory that shows up in shops soon after a break-in to determine whether it was freshly stolen.
But Goldstein said that out of fairness, consignment stores should follow the same rules.
If stricter measures are being applied to people in less affluent neighborhoods with lower economic means, he asked, “Are they being implemented with people on Charles Street and Newbury Street?”
Beth Healy can be reached at email@example.com.
Zoorassic Park, a thrilling, seasonal exhibit, will be open May 26 – Sept. 3
Boston; April 2, 2012 “They roamed the Earth 65 million years ago and soon visitors to Franklin Park Zoo will have the unique opportunity to stroll amongst the giants that used to rule the planet when Zoorassic Park opens May 26. As visitors are immersed in a prehistoric journey through time at Zoorassic Park, they will be enthralled by the vast array of fascinating dinosaurs awaiting them at every turn. With more than 15 moving, roaring, life-like animatronic dinosaurs, including the imposing Tyrannosaurus rex, this is a unique experience not to be missed. “Visitors are going to be in awe as they stroll amongst these amazing recreations. The experience is sure to captivate the imagination of adventurers of all ages as they hear the roar of the Tyrannosauraus rex, and encounter an array of incredibly realistic dinosaurs that will move, hiss and excite,” said John Linehan, Zoo New England President and CEO. Franklin Park Zoo is celebrating a century of fun and adventure in 2012, and there will be no bigger adventure this season than Zoorassic Park. “We are incredibly grateful to our sponsors and the strong community support that we have received,” Linehan said. “Franklin Park Zoo has been an integral part of the community for 100 years and we’re so thrilled to present Zoorassic Park, which is such an exciting and memorable exhibit, as part of our Centennial celebration.” The exhibit is sponsored by the Empire Loan Charitable Foundation, which was created to support a wide range of community activities in and around the neighborhoods where Empire Loan operates. WCVB-TV 5 is the media sponsor. “The Empire Loan Charitable Foundation felt the Franklin Park Zoo is such an important part of the community that we serve, that we should support some of the great programs the Zoo has to offer to the area. Zoorassic Park sounded like the perfect event for the Empire Loan Charitable Foundation to get involved with in that it benefits kids by allowing them to experience the fun and excitement that dinosaurs generate, while enjoying all of the other exciting exhibits the Franklin Park Zoo features,” said Michael Goldstein, owner and CEO of Empire Loan. Zoorassic Park visitors will enter into prehistoric times as they journey around a large pond where they will encounter dinosaurs including a Chasmosaurus and baby, a Cryolophosaurus, a Dilophosaurus and many others all nestled within the trees, bushes and undergrowth for a truly realistic experience. Kids will also have fun pretending they are paleontologists at the nearby Dino Dig where they can “dig” for recreations of fossils and bones. For a one-of-a-kind event, book a Dino-riffic Dinosaur Birthday package or a corporate party in the Dino Den, a private rental space located within Zoorassic Park. Dino Den is available for rental May through August 2012. For more information on birthday party packages, please call 617-989-0113. For more information on private events, please call 617-989-2009 or visit www.franklinparkzoo.org. Zoorassic Park details: Zoorassic Park will be open May 26 – Sept. 3. The hours are weekdays, 10:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., and weekends, 10:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. The cost is $3.00 for members, $4.00 for non-members.
Empire Loan of New England is pleased to announce its first major gift through its charitable foundation: a $125,000 donation to The Mattapan Community Health Center (MCHC). Owner and CEO of Empire Loan, Michael Goldstein, a third generation pawnbroker, said, “We and Mattapan Community Health Center share a strong commitment to our neighbors and communities. On behalf of Empire Loan, we are proud to support the Center which will mark its 40th year with the opening of a state-of-the-art health facility in the Summer of 2012.”
The Moth Radio Hour
The Moth is an acclaimed not-for-profit organization dedicated to the art and craft of storytelling. It is a celebration of both the raconteur, who breathes fire into true tales of ordinary life, and the storytelling novice, who has lived through something extraordinary and yearns to share it. At the center of each performance is, of course, the story – and The Moth’s directors work with each storyteller to find, shape and present it.
For over 35 years, Jose Masso has been the host/producer of “Con Salsa!” on WBUR 90.9FM in Boston. During this period “Con Salsa!” has served as part music show, part party, part community center, the program is a mecca for Latinos and lovers of things Latin.
Best summed up by its motto: Over 20 years of teaching more than just basketball, The No Books No Ball (NBNB) Basketball Program is a broad based community action initiative that teaches children sportsmanship, athletic prowess, and academic aptitude through team work, coaching, and mentoring provided by civic minded, volunteer role models.
Beyond its worthy year-round mission, the organization also makes a special commitment to reach out and help support those families and children in need during the Thanksgiving holiday season.
There are still many people in our community who lack the financial means to have a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. In response to this, No Books No Ball started its Annual Turkey Giveaway, which has now become a tradition in the community. This year, the initiative is expected to result in the distribution of 500 turkeys to families affected by homelessness, unemployment, and personal tragedy..
No Books No Ball Basketball Program
9 Rozella Street
Dorchester, MA 02122
Attn: Tony Richards
Walk just a few doors down from Empire Loan’s Washington St. flagship jewelry and lending outlet, enter a discreet and unassuming brownstone doorway, and step into the world of Duggan Hill and City Lights, which for nearly 30 years has been providing professional-caliber dance (ballet, tap, hip-hop), theater, music, film editing, and fencing training to kids from the neighborhood and well beyond. It is no exaggeration to say that some serious international talent learned its first steps and got its first professional entrees right inside these modest doors. From the pop start Bobby Brown, Jordan, Jonathan Knight of New Kids on the Block, Tanille Pritchard of New York’s Alvin Ailey Dance Theater, to Racino Mugica, who is making waves as a bright young choreographer in Las Vegas. What they have in common has been the keen and disciplined nurturing of one Duggan Hill, former choreographer for the Hugh Hefner and Disney Corporations, dancer, choreographer, and teacher extraordinaire. Empire Loan shows how one local pawn shop, is innovative and community-orientated by making a significant annual contribution to the school.
At 950 Blue Hill Avenue, just about halfway between Franklin Park and Mattapan Square, sits a squat, unassuming collection of hangars and outdoor hard-surface tennis courts. Welcome to The Sportsmen’s Tennis Club, a neighborhood sports club with a mission. Established in 1961, it will soon be celebrating its 50th year as the provider of unique athletic and academic programs to kids all across the neighborhoods of Boston and even into the suburbs ringing Greater Boston.
The Sportsmen’s Tennis Club of Dorchester is unique among the many social and community organizations offering “neighborhood services” in that it puts tennis(more on that below) at the epicenter of an original and innovative approach to teaching children and young adults the life, academic, social, and attitudinal skills they need to succeed. For its adult members, it is a beautifully maintained urban oasis in an otherwise
chronically under-developed and under-served part of Boston, namely the Dorchester-Mattapan-Roxbury trio of Boston neighborhoods that are only now just beginning to emerge from the long, hard times of decline and neglect that were characteristic of the “Sixties through the mid-Eighties”. All this for the whopping annual member’s fee of $150.00, which, by the way, only adults pay. “Adults pay so kids can play,” or so one of the operating tenets of the Sportsmen’s Club goes. The annual members’ fees, along with City and State grants, and business sponsorship and private philanthropy, combine to keep the club going strong. thus we have a working, vibrant example of public & private participation and cooperation in maintaining and growing a cherished and valuable team player on the front lines since 1961 of Boston’s efforts to foster neighborhood revitalization, stabilization, and economic development.
All of which has made it a no-brainer for Empire Loan and Michael Goldstein to seek to be a part of the mission. Michael learned of Sportsmen’s Club through his associations (and friendships) with Steve Thompkins, now at the Suffolk County Sherriff’s Office and formerly on the Sportmen’s Board of Directors, and Susanne Thompkins, Director of Development at Boston’s PBS affiliate WBUR.
Indeed, it was pretty much love at first sight. Susanne was aware of Michael’s abiding interest in children’s issues, and Steve, whom Michael stayed in touch with since their respective stints at Emerson College, was well aware of Michael’s What-ifÂ© approach to Empire’s place and role in the community. It was a perfect fit!
This summer The Sportsmen’s Tennis Club hosted a USTA “Sectional,” which enables rising young amateur and professional tennis players from all over the globe to compete and acquire the “points” they need to eventually merit international ranking, and a shot at entering the great and fabled tournaments such as the US Open and the French Open. Empire Loan has donated $50,000.00 to The Sportsmen’s Club to help cover the costs of travel, accommodations, and cash prizes for the participants, who arive in Dorchester from as far-flung shores as Japan and Kenya. The kick-off ceremony merited a visit from His Honor Mayor Menino, a keynote address by Michael, and the week-long event has generated a great deal of positive publicity for the club, and has increased and strengthened the club’s standing within the international tennis community. Perhaps most importantly, it provided an opportunity for local tennis aficionados, particularly the children and adolescents of the club’s youth programs, to witness first-hand some great international youth tennis.
For a complete overview and tour of the good work that the Sportsmen’s Tennis Club has been doing in Dorchester since 1961, by all means visit their website at www.sportsmenstennisclub.org. Empire was particularly taken with the club’s notion that the lessons learned from a study and embrace of the sport, and indeed tennis culture more broadly, can be effectively applied to character building, academic achievement, and positive attitude reinforcement. Not all sports are equally predisposed to address these larger life issues. But tennis, with its emphasis on proper physical form, strategizing on the court, endurance building, game etiquette, and a strict code of conduct vis-Ã -vis one’s colleagues, competitors, coaches, and trainers, is uniquely and ideally suited as a springboard for preparing to tackle the larger challenges of life, as one is about to enter adulthood and engage the world at large. The spectacular track record of the club, and the success stories of the club’s “graduates” manifestly illustrate this point. By making the “genteel” (in the best sense of the word) sport of tennis accessible and affordable to a youth and neighborhood population that, in earlier days, might have been excluded economically and culturally from the enjoyment and appreciation of the sport, Sportsmen’s Tennis Club fits right in with the lineage of social-action movements that go back to (dare we suggest it?) the Victorian Age, with its “activists” championing the values and benefits of hewing to the positive conservative virtues of that bygone era, virtues of hard work, self-restraint, respect for one’s elders and peers, and perhaps most important of all, self-reliance. You will get all of that on the court! These are values that Empire Loan, in its desire to “give back” to the communities and neighborhoods in which it operates will heartily support, and does so in a myriad of ways.