Dear Dickheads – February 2011

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Dear Friends and Patrons,
In the past few years, the Utah State Legislature, sponsored by Senator Jon Greiner and Rep. Rebecca Lockhart, have passed a new law, referred to as the “Second Hand and Pawn Shop Bill, (S.B. 212) that will in essence put most, if not all, antiquarian book shops, antiques dealers, and other purveyors of used or second-hand merchandise out of business.  These measures include requiring me to fingerprint and id everyone from whom I purchase used and rare books to submit to a state database, and catalog and maintain and upload a database of all inventory of used and rare books and submit to the state database every 24 hours. I would like to know why Ms. Lockhart and Mr. Greiner are trying to put my shop and trade out of business, along with the entire antiques trade, and all other sellers of used and second hand goods?  This is not a small business friendly law and will have not only a severe impact on those of us merchants directly impacted by this new law, but will surely have a large and reverberating impact on City, County and State governments and their revenue from sales tax and income tax.

Let me be clear:  The law has already been passed, although currently there are a handful of exemptions, which at this time include the antiques trade and the antiquarian book trade. We have been put on notice that it is the intent of the legislature and the sponsors of this bill that the exemptions that have protected us the past three years will be eliminated in the upcoming legislative session. Without relief, my own establishment and likely many others in the antiques and book trades will also perish by July 31 of this year.

There are existing laws on the books that are sufficient to assist the police and law enforcement to pursue the recovery of stolen goods and prosecute thieves. Speaking for myself, we already employ two different “Buyer Forms,” a short and a long form, depending on the size of the purchase and from whom we’re purchasing what. We have successfully used these techniques for the past 20 years without any guidance or interference from the state.

Pawn shops and the internet, eBay in particular, are still where the vast majority of stolen goods are being resold.  If the pawn shop laws were so effective in the first place, why are pawn shops still the primary bricks and mortar source of stolen goods?

Antique shops (and antiquarian booksellers) are not pawn shops!  Why subject our trades to pawn shop rules, especially if they’re not being currently enforced against pawn shops?

Speaking for my trade, fingerprinting and submitting identification to the state on every individual that wishes to sell me their antiquarian books and ephemera will simply not work.  Prominent citizens of this and other states will refuse any such process.  

Requiring all purchases to be inventoried and uploaded to a state database every 24 hours is also unworkable.  I can’t afford it.  We acquired 10,000 books in the month of December alone, most of which are sitting in storage waiting to be priced and catalogued.  Most never will be catalogued.  These are largely low-cost paperbacks and hardbound books that retail in the $3-$10 range, meaning that they just aren’t worth cataloging.  

I strongly disagree with the provisions of this bill.  My bookstore is not a pawn shop, and the legislature shouldn’t treat it like one.  If this law is changed to apply to my business, I would either have to close or move out of state.  Ken Sanders Rare Books has been operating in Salt Lake City, in the County of Salt Lake, and the State of Utah, since 1980.  I would consider it a great loss to myself and my community 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.


Ken Sanders
Owner, Ken Sanders Rare Books
Salt Lake City, Utah

SLUG Readers,
It’s atypical for us not to write something snarky when we receive a letter.  But quite frankly, this is just too important to drop our giant sarcasm ball on. Check out the full text of the bill here: or just take Ken’s word for it. Regardless, you can visit to find who your senator and representatives are and send them an email letting them know you don’t support revisions to SB 212. Support a local business and a Salt Lake City mainstay.