No gold-buying for check-casher

June 10, 2011
By

JACKSON SQ.—Because of crime concerns, All Checks Cashed will not be allowed to start buying gold at its 282 Centre St. location following a city zoning Board of Appeal rejection May 24.

The rejection was supported by Mayor Thomas Menino’s office and by state Rep. Jeffrey Sánchez, All Checks Cashed proprietor Idalia Flores and her lawyer, Larry DiCara, told the Gazette.

“I didn’t think the welcome sign to Jamaica Plain should say, ‘Welcome to JP. We buy gold,” Sánchez said.

The Mayor’s Office did not respond to Gazette requests for comment by press time.

The Parkland Management Advisory Committee (PMAC), a group normally involved with oversight of the management of the nearby Southwest Corridor Park, sent a letter to the ZBA opposing the petition.

Check-cashing and gold-buying are both widely criticized businesses because the way they make money is by taking percentages on those transactions. At least two other JP businesses currently buy gold.

Flores was turned down despite having received support for a one-year test approval from the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council after submitting 200 signatures in support of her cause and working with local police. The safety measures included requirements to keep a log of all gold sales with photocopies of the sellers’ IDs to police every week, and to hold all items for 30 days, among other things, he said

The precautions were largely the same as the ones Flores uses at three other All Checks Cashed locations—in Somerville, Lawrence and Lynn—that buy gold, she told the Gazette.

“I did not want to bring something harmful to me, my customers or the people who live in Jamaica Plain,” Flores said.

But some JP residents feared that the gold-buying operation would lead to an increase in robberies and burglaries in the area.

“PMAC’s position was to support opposing a check cashing place basically becoming a pawn shop,” PMAC member Jeffrey Ferris told the Gazette. “It invites more crime and criminal activity.”

Rick Stockwood, founder of the group JP For All, which was formed to support the controversial planned opening of a Whole Foods Market in Hyde Square, told the Gazette that some community opposition to the gold-buying operation was related to the Whole Foods controversy.

He was disappointed, he said, that there was not a similar groundswell of concern from people opposed to Whole Foods about the “potential additional services being added to a business that many feel preys on the low-income community.”

Flores said that her decision to pursue gold-purchasing was based on legitimate demand for the service. “I had people coming in afterwards saying, ‘I though you were going to get your license. I was ready to bring in some scrap gold,” she said.