Sioux Falls business and community leaders have worked diligently over the past thirty-five plus years to change our City from a one industry town to the economically and culturally diverse Sioux Falls of today.
The Queen City is no longer largely dependent on agriculture and meat packing. Unquestionably our city has changed because of the arrival of Citibank and the transformational generosity of T. Denny Sanford. Sioux Falls is viewed as a vibrant city whose economy is led by world class health care systems and financial services.
Sioux Falls is marketed as a great place to live, raise a family, and to do business. For the past thirty-five years, the City has more than doubled in population. Sioux Falls has become the regional retail destination, the Washington Pavilion put through a Cinderella like transformation; Falls Park, downtown (Phillips Avenue and East Bank), and River Greenway revitalized; and the Bird Cage, Convention Center, and Events center constructed. And the Sanford Sports complex
So it is a shock in the last few days, seemingly out of nowhere comes the news of efforts to change our city and its well-crafted image. In the name of entertainment Sioux Falls will now have Rock and Roll 24/7/365 (the radio station), a Guntry Club, and the Midwest’s (if not the nation’s) largest Pawn Shop.
Chuck Brennan of Dollar Loan Center has announced he will build the Badlands, Pawn, Gold and Jewelry entertainment complex, which he describes as “Disneyland or Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory of pawn shops." According to press reports Mr. Brennan wants to make shopping at the pawnshop fun and “create the pawnshop experience.” It was stated Badlands Gold & Jewelry would be a tourist destination attracting as many as 500 people per day.
Plans for Badlands will include large selections of jewelry, electronics, a gun shop with shooting range, a silver and gold foundry, a FM Rock radio station, a tattoo shop, a delli, and a merchandise shop.
The Argus Leader reported the City is excited about this venture and the City’s director of development in speaking about this stated, “this is what we were hoping would come” relative to the creation of the Sioux Falls Sports and Entertainment District.
This development creates a conflict for me. I believe in free enterprise with a minimum amount of government interference. This conflict is similar to my feelings about the issue of limiting the rate of interest and charges assessed by payday lenders.
While I am undecided (still thinking about it and want to see the specific proposal) on the payday lending issue (free market forces versus hurtful business practices), I would not favor the City issuing Badlands an on premisis beer and wine permit or alcoholic beverage license if their were a shooting range at the site. I don’t feel any differently about Badlands than I do about Scheels Sports who I think has created a real destination attraction at their Sioux Falls store with their Ferris wheel, faux shooting gallery, and café. Sheels also has an extensive gun shop at their store. Despite I am pro gun, I wouldn’t favor giving Scheels a license to sell alcohol either.
If Mr. Brennan wants to invest his money legally as he sees fit, he can go for it. From my perspective however I don’t think it will materially benefit our city. In terms of attracting high quality jobs, keeping the conservative pro business image required to foster financial services jobs, attracting more family trust business, and projecting our image of hard working Midwestern wholesomeness, I don’t think Sioux Falls should participate with special assistance for Badlands to participate in remaking the Queen City’s image to Pawn City.
Endbar - I really do like Pawn and Rock and Roll. I frequently watch the “Pawn Shows” on Reality TV. Foremost understand that almost all Reality TV is scripted. I like Pawn Stars with the Harrison family, but I view it as the History Channel’s entertainment version of PBS’ Antiques Roadshow (which I also occasionally enjoy). No day goes by that I don’t listen to 50’s on 5 or 60’s on 6.
While in Las Vegas for the Thanksgiving holiday, (my son lives there) my wife, children, grandchildren, and I played KISS Golf in Las Vegas. It was glow in the dark mini golf with blaring rock and roll. It was great fun for all ages (all 7 of us, from 5 to 68). I don’t know if it would be considered a destination venue but it was a great place. If this was the image Badlands were pursuing it would be palatable. I like Las Vegas but just want to keep it in Las Vegas, I just don’t want a Sin City image in Sioux Falls.