Don’t Fiddle With Exemptions 

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It has come to my attention that my business is threatened by the inclusion of secondhand merchants in the Pawnshop & Secondhand Merchandise Transmission Information Act. The act was passed in 2005 with exemptions for bookstores, and it is the possible loss of these exemptions that concerns me. The act requires secondhand merchants to obtain ID and fingerprints when they buy merchandise and to catalog every item purchased and transmit all this information to the state every 24 hours, among other things. Should the Legislature remove the exemption covering my business and force me to comply with the act, I would have to close my doors.

The act is attempting to reduce theft, and I agree that it might be helpful to require pawnshops to track this kind of information. However, I object to including community-friendly secondhand businesses like mine with legislation designed for pawnshops. My bookstore is not a pawnshop, and books don’t have the same kind of street value as Rolexes!

My business is also different from pawnshops in that I pay fair prices for material I buy, and I also sell my stock at fair market value. Unlike pawnshops, I go to great lengths to ensure that the people from whom I buy merchandise are the owners of the items in question. We have cooperated successfully in the past with local and national law enforcement to put a stop to book thieves. Forcing us to comply with measures meant for pawnshops would not help law enforcement, but it would put me out of business.

This is not a small-business friendly law and will severely affect merchants as well as city, county, and state governments and their revenue from sales tax and income tax—not to mention the fact that all of our employees would lose their jobs! Ken Sanders Rare Books has been operating in the Salt Lake area and contributing to the community and economy since 1980. I would consider it a great loss if the Legislature were to force me out of business. In order to keep my business alive, I need the Legislature to extend the exemptions covering the antiques and antiquarian book trades.

We ask our friends and other interested parties to speak out now regarding this matter. Given that the 2011 legislative session begins Jan. 24, and no changes to the act have yet been proposed, some might see our call to action as premature. We do not. We cannot afford to wait around to see if the Legislature will pull our exemptions; now is the time to let the Legislature know how crucial these exemptions are to our existence.

Once we learn of any relevant proposals in the upcoming legislative session, we will alert everyone. In the meantime, please write to anyone who might make a difference. If you’re a Utah resident, please write directly to your representatives in the House and Senate (a sample protest letter is available on our Website at

Ken Sanders
Ken Sanders Rare Books
Salt Lake City

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