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Feb 20 / Neal

EZPawn Allies Meet Angry Residents

Ald_Graham_02202013A full house of Galewood and Oak Park residents barely contained their rage last night during a “town hall” meeting at the Galewood Community Church, 1776 N. Narragansett Ave. Alderman Deborah Graham, 29th Ward, organized the meeting to explain why she made the decision to write a letter of approval for the special use permit EZPawn needs to open a store at 6432 W. North Avenue.  The proposed store would be the 5th pawn shop within a half mile stretch of North Avenue.

Austin Talks also reported on the meeting.  Another great article at Progress Illinois. More reporting from Oak Leaves.

Alderman Graham presented a proposal by EZCorp, parent company of EZPawn, in an effort to appease neighborhood concerns. The primary concession is to operate using the trade name “Easy Cash Solutions” not EZPawn.  Store representatives will participate in a proposed economic “task force” regarding North Avenue and attend CAPS meetings.  The task force would include representatives from the Oak Park and Montclare-Elmwood Park Chambers of Commerce, police districts and states attorney’s office.  No other information about the task force was presented nor what authority it would have or if there was money available for recommendations the group might have.

ABC Bank CEO and Chairman Sam Scott and several of his senior staff gave the audience an overview of their position.  ABC Bank are investors in the shopping center where EZPawn seeks to open as well as a tenant.  The property has been unable to lease in the 7,000 square foot space since Hollywood Video closed 5 years ago.  Mr. Scott claimed “they wouldn’t rent to a business that would be detrimental to us.”

Chicago Police Department’s 25th District Commander indicated the police follow Chicago Municipal Code 4-210-080 in regards to pawn shops.  A representative from the Oak Park police department was in attendance to listen to the concerns of Oak Park residents and report to the department staff.

The regional manager for EZCorp, parent corporation of EZPawn, was met with angry questions and comments.  His presentation on how EZPawn works was almost entirely thwarted as residents were anxious to for an opportunity to present their own opinions.

Residents were quick to over the platform with at least 20 people lining up to speak out against the proposed store and many more shouting from the audience.  Comments included anger at Ald. Graham for not consulting with the community prior to making her decision, ABC Bank not representing the interests of the community, and EZPawn being detrimental to the future growth off business on North Avenue.  One person, speaking directly to Mr. Scott, stated she will be “taking her money out of ABC Bank”.

Alderman Graham concluded the meeting with a promise to consult the community before making decisions and to pray on the comments from the community.  She did not indicate her decision had been changed but she appeared to be humbled by the strong community response to her actions.

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