Several Lincoln pawn shops want the city to relax a regulation that acts as a de facto ban on Sunday business.
An ordinance bars pawn transactions on Sundays, which make up about 90% of a pawn shop's business, Jamie Hogle of AAA Ultimate Pawn said.
She believes it's an outdated relic of city laws from the 1930s, a time when many businesses had to close on Sundays.
"Over the years, each of these groups of businesses have come before the City Council and separately had this provision removed from their parts of the code," Hogle, the operations manager for AAA Ultimate Pawn, wrote in an email asking council members to strip pawn transactions from the banned list.
In 2013, AAA Ultimate Pawn opened it first store at 1400 South St., but it wasn't until it expanded into Omaha and Carson City, Nevada, that they learned Sunday bans were just a Lincoln issue.
Since 2016, staff of AAA Ultimate Pawn's three Lincoln locations have regularly asked the city to do away with the rule.
The impediment to lifting the ban has been pawn slip processing, City Attorney Jeff Kirkpatrick said.
All pawn transactions are reported to the Lincoln Police Department, which analyzes them as a source of leads when looking for stolen property.
The police department staff who do this work are traditionally Monday-through-Friday employees, a department spokeswoman said.
In discussions of lifting the ban, city officials have raised the issue of requiring pawn transactions — where funds are lent in exchange for pledging something of value — to be submitted electronically.
Until last year, most pawn shops had to deliver their slips to police in person.
Then the city bought an $18,000 program, called Leads Online, allowing these transaction records to be submitted electronically.
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All but a few businesses that have pawnbroker permits now use the system, Hogle and Kirkpatrick said.
But compelling the remaining businesses, several of which only rarely do pawn transactions, to acquire the equipment and get trained on this system, isn't something the city's comfortable with, Kirkpatrick said.
Hogle understands some licensed pawnbrokers might not want the new system, but she hopes the City Council could approve an exemption for businesses using the electronic system so they could operate on Sundays.
But from a legal standpoint and a policy standpoint, Kirkpatrick questions whether doing as Hogle wants would grant them an unfair business advantage.
"We don’t want to treat businesses in the same class differently," he said.
Todd Stutzman of Express Pawn, 1921 O St., supports Hogle's efforts.
He believes several pawn shops, like the one he manages, would open Sundays if given the chance.
Currently, because shops are closed, there are at least 50 to 80 more pawn transactions on a Saturday compared to other business days, Stutzman said.
If police aren't analyzing those Saturday transactions on the same day they occur, those involved wonder how Sunday is any different?
Hogle believes change is coming.
"After 3-4 years, we’re just tired of waiting," she said.