Friday, March 30, 2007

Did the Olympics kill the San Francisco Pawn Shop?

The San Francisco Pawn Shop is dead. After 50 years, its doors on Hastings St. across from Save On Foods will shut at the end of August.

Jeff, the owner, confirmed the closure to a Downtown Eastside pensioner who dropped in this morning to see about a watch. The pensioner knows Jeff, whom he says took the place over from his dad. "You still see his dad, Mitch, working in there, part-time."

"They sold the property to people from Hong Kong", the pensioner explains. "Concord Pacific, people from Hong Kong." That's a huge lot; it goes right back to the alley, the pensioner explains.

People on the Downtown Eastside will miss the San Francisco Pawn Shop, the pensioner believes. "People would go in there with all kinds of stuff", he recalls chuckling, "TVs, radios, clocks, watches, diamond rings."

But the San Francisco Pawn Shop owners may have gotten out of the business at the right time. The population of low-income residents who rely on a pawn shop to get through the month, is shrinking on the Downtown Eastside. The upcoming 2010 Olympics has jacked up property values and roughly 12 buildings that have provided cheap rooms to poor people have or are being sold for re-development.

The pensioner believes that with the sale of the San Francisco Pawn Shop property, things are going according to plan for the right-of-center City Council. "They want the area cleaned up by 2010, for the Olympics. They don't want people coming here and seeing all those poor people."

As the Olympics come, the San Francisco Pawn Shop goes. The paper work for the pawn shop property has been completed, the pensioner says. "It's a done deal."