Attleboro Business Owner Accuses Councilor of Threatening Him into Action
The co-owner of an Attleboro Pawn Shop said he was given an ultimatum by a city councilor.
Arthur Frye, owner of the Attleboro Pawn Shop on Pleasant Street, once assisted police and did business on a hand shake. Now, however, after more than 15 years running the show, Frye is retiring and his three sons — Eric, Cliff and Scott — are taking over the family business.
The sons have appeared before the Attleboro City Council on multiple occasions to discuss interest rates on the merchandise that is bought and sold from their store, to discuss how the pawn industry works and most recently to address the issue of record keeping.
Cliff Frye spoke during a public hearing last week to discuss one item in a proposed ordinance currently under consideration by the Committee on Ordinances, Elections and Legislative Matters. What he received wasn't exactly a hand shake.
Frye told the councilors that he did not agree with one item in the ordinance, which would force the business to keep photo records of each item that comes into the store. Frye said it would be a financial hardship.
Councilor Duff White, who is not on the committee, reminded Frye of a phone discussion they had prior to the hearing in which Frye agreed to store photos. Frye admitted to telling White he would store the photos for a year, but said he agreed because he was being threatened.
"Well I felt like you really didn't leave me much choice in the matter," Frye told White. "When we discussed it you gave me an ultimatum of this or that."
"This was 'I'm going to either propose you hold stuff for three months,' which would basically put us out of business because I couldn't possible stay in business if we are holding gold for three months," Frye added. "You said we hold gold for three months or I'm going to make you take photographs and in that situation no business can stay in business."
Last year Attleboro Pawn Shop had nearly 4,000 transactions of which .3 percent came back stolen by the police department, according to Frye.
"To put photographic images in place when we are talking about way less than 1 percent of the merchandise came back stolen seems like a lot of work for a business," he said.
White denied threatening Frye, while apologizing and reminding him that he is only one of nine voting members on the council. White said he suggested storing photos because, while stolen goods cannot be returned, owners of stolen items can get closure from the photo.
Attleboro Police Det. Sgt. Arthur Brillon told the council that he believes it's unnecessary for the pawn shop to take photos of every item sold in the shop and then store the photos for a year.
Eric Frye, on behalf of the business, said he would not discuss last week's meeting for fear of retribution.
The ordinance was voted out of committee and will go before the City Council for a vote in the coming weeks.