Granby shouldn’t declare pawn, tattoo shops taboo
February 15, 2008
For evidence that Granby is a town in search of an identity, look no further than the official reaction to two existing main street businesses.
Mayor Ted Wang, at the behest of constituents who he said brought the issue to his attention, has directed the town attorney to draft an ordinance banishing pawn shops and tattoo parlors to parts of town other than the central business district.
In addition to constituting a rude slap in the face to Wild West Tattoo and the Rocky Mountain Trading Post ” both existing main street businesses ” the measure raises a host of questions.
First off, where might a business that depends on walk-in customers find a viable location in Granby other than the central business district, a.k.a. Agate Avenue?
The town’s other business districts seem to have escaped our attention, just as they do the vast majority of visitors. As Christy Helming, owner of Wild West Tattoo, put it, “I drive through town looking for a tattoo sign on the main strip. If it’s not on the strip, you’ll never know they exist.”
The same goes for a pawn business such as Rocky Mountain Trading Post. If it’s not immediately visible, most people will never find it.
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Thus, the contention that the town is not banning these types of businesses is disingenuous.
Forcing them to locate somewhere other than Agate Avenue amounts to a de facto ban because Granby does not have another area where walk-in dependent businesses can survive.
And that, in turn, raises the question of why in the world a town struggling to re-create its downtown as an attractive, vibrant, pedestrian-friendly place wouldn’t want businesses that generate foot traffic, bring in money from outside of town and help fill empty space on main street.
Turning up one’s nose at pawn shops and tattoo parlors smacks of an elitism that, frankly, Granby can scarcely afford.
Moreover, in case the mayor and his image-conscious constituency haven’t noticed, neither tattoo parlors nor pawn shops qualify as a blight on the town’s otherwise spotless image.
Tattoos in particular have become as much a part of mainstream American culture as fast food during the past couple of decades. They certainly are no longer the exclusive domain of drunken sailors and Hell’s Angels.
As for pawn shops, well, everyone hunts for a bargain now and again. And the fact that more than a few local residents might find the need for a temporary loan using their possessions as collateral is as strong an argument as we could make against placing undue restrictions on this kind of local business.
Beyond that, just whose sensibilities would this ordinance protect, anyway? The same argument that can be made against these two types of businesses can be made by other people against any number of businesses.
In short, it’s a slippery slope when a town decides to start singling out businesses based on the opinions of a few residents. Granby ought to save its energy and political capital for more important issues.
If, however, the mayor feels compelled to pursue this ordinance, we suggest Granby residents make their views on the matter crystal clear by attending the public hearing. Stay tuned for the time and date.