Oak Park and Chicago rallied in 2013 to block the opening of a fifth pawn shop within a couple-of-block radius of the 6400 block of North Avenue, even filing a lawsuit to stop the business from moving into the neighborhood.
Nearly two years later, the EZ Pawn at 6432 W. North Ave. says it’s closing up shop because its lease was not renewed.
The business said in a flier distributed to customers that it will be closing the recently opened store on Oct. 18. A manager of the store declined comment but did reveal that the business is moving to another EZ Pawn location in Stone Park at 3116 W. North Ave. because the business’ lease was not renewed.
Judith Alexander, chair of North Avenue Zoning and Development Advisory Committee (NAZDAC) and co-founder of the North Avenue Neighbors Association of Oak Park, said in a telephone interview that she and other NAZDAC members recently learned of the store’s closing.
“I couldn’t be happier,” Alexander said.
She and other community activists fought the business moving in, arguing that the saturation of pawn shops along the commercial corridor prevented economic development in the area and help facilitate criminal activity.
Alexander said she and others were not only disappointed by EZ Pawn moving into the area, but the company promised the community organization that it would not use the word “pawn shop” on its signage and advertising.
“They promised [in 2013] that they would call themselves EZ Cash Solutions rather than calling themselves EZ Pawn,” Alexander said in a telephone interview.
The promise from the company, however, was not legally binding, she said.
“That year they changed it to EZ Pawn and put up pawnshop signs all over the place and at the curb at North Avenue,” she said.
She said the community organization has been planning to testify before the Chicago Zoning Board of Appeals to make the city aware that EZ Pawn is a company “that doesn’t keep its promises.”
An EZ Pawn spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment.