Were you to have walked in to Wherehouse Music on Hampton last week, you would have seen a rope dividing the new-CD section from the used-CD section and a notice barring customers from entering the used section. The rope was put there on orders from the license collector's office as part of a crackdown on buying and selling used CDs without the proper permit and procedures in place. "In the city of St. Louis," says Richard Wilkes, a spokesman for the police department, "when you buy and sell used merchandise, you have to have certain things to comply with the law. You must, one, take a picture of the person you are buying this from, and, two, you have to fingerprint them. The police department actually provides the forms for you to put the fingerprint on. This is to protect the business. Say you buy something that's stolen and somebody comes in and says, "That's my merchandise. Somebody stole that from me,' you have a record of who you bought that from." Calls to Wherehouse Music's district office were unreturned.
The Streetside at Grand and Arsenal was visited last week and informed that they, too, would have to snap a photo and swipe a fingerprint from prospective sellers. "We already do a form," says Randy Davis of Streetside Records, "and have been since day one, which might be why they haven't cordoned us off from doing it. It's my understanding that they may be getting a little bit more stringent about it because of a rash of burglaries."
That actually makes sense. If you ever get burgled and lose your music, immediately call all the used-CD places in town and alert them of your loss. Burglars are a notoriously stupid lot; they'll take loads of precautions when attempting to unload a generic television but not think twice about waltzing into a CD store and attempting to sell a unique-as-a-fingerprint CD collection. Tom Ray, co-owner of Vintage Vinyl, had his house broken into last year and his collection of CDs stolen. Pissed, he made a beeline to his store and had the priceless pleasure of witnessing the thief waltz in with the CDs and attempt to unload them. Ray discreetly called the cops, stalled the perps and grinned as the cops came into the store and cuffed them. Despite his joyous brush with justice, though, Ray doesn't agree with the law. "I think it's ridiculous. I wonder if you have to do that if you sell a gun."
Why the enforcement now? The ordinance has been on the books since 1995 and, until now, has only been sporadically enforced (the Record Exchange was alerted to the problem two years ago and obtained the proper permits). City License Collector Gregg Daly, under whose jurisdiction the ordinance falls, explains the delay: "It never really was thought of as Streetside having secondhand merchandise, but once it was brought to my attention, it's not fair for me to say something to one person and not to the other one. So we went up there, and there's no problem with them because they already do that."