Arts Desk

Stores Selling Used Furniture, Inexpensive Jewelry Now Exempt From Secondhand Business License

When the District's Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs proposed new licensing rules for shops that sell used goods last month, it was good news for some of the businesses that received a rather aggressive visit from DCRA and MPD earlier in the spring: Stores selling books, magazines, vinyl records, cassette tapes, compact discs, VHS videos, DVDs, rugs or tapestries, used clothing, paintings, sculptures, drawings, etchings, or engravings would no longer need to obtain the rather onerous and pircey secondhand business license, and could instead operate under a general business license. But to the dismay of shops like GoodWood, Meeps, and Treasury, businesses selling furniture or jewelry were not given a pass. “It would affect us in a way that would be completely burdensome," Meeps and Treasury co-owner Katerina Herodotou said of the secondhand business license at the time.

The proposed regulations got an update today with some good news for store owners, DCist reports: Stores selling furniture and some jewelry are now exempt from the secondhand business license. (Stores selling secondhand precious metals and stones are not, and will still have to make inventory reports and submit to background checks, as required by the license.)

Earlier this month, DCRA pledged not to enforce the secondhand business license while it reviewed the regulations.

Check out the updated rules here. The comment period on the proposed regulations ends June 30.

Update, 2:36 p.m. Proponents of overhauling the secondhand business license are happy with DCRA's update to the rules—well, mostly.

Herodotou writes that she and Meeps/Treasury co-owner Cathy Chung "are happy that the organizing efforts within the vintage community helped bring about crucial changes that enable small businesses to continue to offer a unique retail experience in D.C." Kristen Barden, executive director of the Adams Morgan Partnership BID, writes that the new rules "are much improved from the version released on June 1. While the jewelry descriptions are still problematic (we had proposed a dollar amount limit), they are a step in the right direction."

Robert Clayton, a lawyer working on behalf of some of the affected used businesses, shares Barden's sentiment, and says his work isn't done. "I will still be working on behalf of several of businesses who sell jewelry that fall outside the scope of exemptions that DCRA has indicated it will grant," he writes.

He goes on:

The businesses at issue sell other than costume jewelry (which is what the DCRA proposed exemptions would cover) but also sell jewelry that includes gold, silver, and/or precious or semi-precious stones.  Because these businesses do not purchase their goods from individuals on a walk-in basis, we would like DCRA to consider including a $500 per item fair market value exception — which I had initially proposed – and/or an "auction-estate sale" exception.  Under the FMV exception, unless the business sells jewelry having a FMV in excess of $500, the seller would not be subject to the secondhand dealer licensing requirements.  Under the auction-estate sale exception, if the seller can establish that its goods are purchased at either an auction or estate sale, that seller would not be subject to the second hand dealer license requirements.

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