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Tapper’s Gold Exchange permit approved

By Kevin Elliott

Tapper’s Gold Exchange will be expanding into Birmingham as city commissioners on Monday, February 8, unanimously approved a special land use permit for the business at 251 E. Merrill, Suite 236.

The second-floor location won’t operate as a standard “Tapper’s Diamonds & Fine Jewelry,” but as a gold exchange that will predominantly buy and sell pre-owned jewelry. Because of the nature of the business, Tappers was required to apply for a special land use permit in addition to receiving the standard site plan and design approval.

As Tapper’s proposes to buy and sell precious metals and jewelry, the operation falls under the definition of a pawnshop in the zoning ordinance. Specifically, the ordinance states that “a pawnshop includes establishments that buy personal property, such as jewelry or artwork, made of gold or other valuable metals for refining.”

Birmingham City Commissioner Clinton Baller questioned whether the business would be able to operate as a traditional pawn shop.

Mark Tapper, president of Tapper’s Diamonds and Fine Jewelry and Tapper’s Gold Exchange, said the intent isn’t to operate as a standard retail location, but far from a traditional pawn shop.

“The intent is to give customers a very comfortable and confidential area to view merchandise, and to purchase and sell pre-owned and estate jewelry,” Tapper said.

The store will include about 15-linear feet of showcase area for jewelry, but the majority of the location will be dedicated for vintage, pre-owned items, rather than items manufactured by Tapper’s directly or purchase from a vendor. The location will buy and sell items, as well as allow customers to borrow against the item, like a pawn shop.

Tapper said the second floor location offers customers more discretion than a first-floor retail location.

The city’s planning board in December voted unanimously to recommend approval to the city commission to approve the special land use, as well as the site plan and design plan. All were approved unanimously on February 8 by city commissioners.

The new location will be in the former Joseph DuMouchelle Fine & Estate Jewelry Buyers, Sellers, Appraisers and Auctioneers. DuMouchelle pleaded guilty in September 2020 to wire fraud in connection to a $12-million diamond scam.


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