by April 12, 2012 at 10:00 am 1,538 0

By Michelle Lancaster. You can follow her and let her know your news on Twitter @MichLancaster. Email her at michellel[AT]

Gun robberies are up, iPhones are still being snatched off Metro but have no fear, your tax dollars are hard at work. Inspectors from the DC Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) and a detective from the Metropolitan Police Department are ensuring that anyone selling you second-hand books, clothes or other used items are not skirting the important and oh-so-necessary requirement for a second-hand business license.

"Borderstan""Borderstan Map" covers DC’s Dupont, Logan and U Street neighborhoods.

 Washington City Paper reports that several book stores and record stores last Wednesday faced scrutiny when the city proclaimed that their operations were illegal unless they had a license. What’s the cost of not having a license? A $700 criminal background check, because according to city law, a used book store is the same thing as a pawn shop.

A number of owners report DCRA telling them at some point in the recent past that a general business license was sufficient, as they sold new items along with used items. Of course, DCRA now says “anyone” could read the regulations online and understand the licensing requirements.

Ah, DC regulations… where we expect business owners to ignore what officials tell them, apply for a more expensive and onerous license as a small business and then threaten to close down businesses for doing what another official told them was acceptable last year. Where’s that report that talks about how DC is one of the least hospitable places to open a small business?

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