California dealers unite

CARMAC created to end ‘restrictive’ legislation

Not content with the idea of “going quietly into that good night,” the California antiques trade has begun a grassroots effort to organize against legislation that could saddle the trade with stringent and costly reporting requirements to sell secondhand goods.

The California Alliance of Resale Merchants and Collectors (CARMAC) is mobilizing a tradewide push against the legislation that most recently made headlines as AB1178. The bill was introduced by state Rep. Leland Yee to create an electronic reporting system for all items bought and sold by pawnbrokers and other “secondhand dealers.”

Lee’s office said the bill was also introduced to reduce fraud in online sales. Members of CARMAC don’t see it that way, said Steve Cattolica, director of government relations for the Sacramento lobbying firm AdvoCal. AdvoCal also lobbies on behalf of California’s gold and bullion dealers.

Antiques dealers see the legislation as costly and unnecessary. Some have claims the legislation is retribution from the state’s pawnbrokers who are required to follow California reporting standards.

“Many times grassroots organizations are counter-punchers,” Cattolica told Antique Trader. “In the short term, we need to be alert to continued efforts to put AB1178 language in perhaps another bill.

“In the long term, we believe the secondhand dealers law written in the 1950s really doesn’t deal with commerce the way it is done today.”

By the start of the 2007 legislative session, members of CARMAC will explore methods on how best to rewrite the 50-year-old secondhand dealers laws to better represent 21st-century businesses.

In addition, CARMAC will be facing a fresh crop of legislators following the 2006 election year. It will be important to find a spokesperson who is well versed in the secondhand trade who also has the necessary skills to educate them on the needs of the trade, Cattolica said.

CARMAC is creating a Web site. Interested antiques dealers, consignment shops, jewelers, coin dealers and collectors are asked to contact CARMAC’s president Kacy Wallis via e-mail at, or by phone at (916) 446-5165. AdvoCal’s Web site is