Payday Loan Businesses Invade Allenville

Fake News written by Martha Throebeck on Saturday, June 8, 2002

from the just-sign-on-the-dotted-line-please dept.

In the last two days, the number of businesses in Allenville (population 104) has quintupled from one to five. After the US Census Bureau revealed that Allenville has the lowest median family income of any incorporated place in Cape Girardeau County, four different companies have announced plans to move into the village: Bob's Payday Loan Place, Sharky's Personal Loans Co., Yu Surre's Cash Advance Emporium, and The Barely Legal Pawn Shop & Check Cashing Service.

Ordinarily, such an explosion in commerce within a low-income community would be considered a miracle. But not this time. The sudden invasion of get-cash-quick outfits has been universally hailed as bad news.

"We might be poor, but that doesn't mean we're desperate enough to sign up for a personal loan with a 9250 percent interest rate," explained one Allenvillian.

Payday loan companies -- which make money by offering extremely high interest loans to people that are bad at math -- wasted no time in taking advantage of the Census Bureau's latest report. "This is a golden opportunity to target those towns filled with people that are least likely to know the meaning of 'usury'," explained Mr. Yu Surre, the founder of Yu Surre's Cash Advance Emporium, with locations in East Cape Girardeau, Haywood City, and coming soon, Allenville. "Since Cape Girardeau readily supports over 200 payday loan outfits, we figure that even a small community like Allenville can handle at least three or four."

The Missouri Legislature recently passed a bill to reign in usurious get-cash-quick operations, but because of an accidental typo in Section 2, Paragraph 12, Sentence 5 of the law, these companies can charge a maximum of 9250 percent yearly interest on their loans -- not the 9.250 percent that the sponsors of the bill originally intended.

As a result, payday loan stores, cash advance places, pawn shops, loan sharks, and car title outfits have continued to pop up all over the state in low-income towns. "Where there's poverty, we'll be there," said Yu Surre. "But we're doing this strictly to help families make ends meet so they can feed the children. Just because we skim a little (or a whole lot) off the top doesn't make us bad people. Allenville needs us."

But almost everybody in Allenville disagrees. "There goes the neighborhood," said one resident who lives in a trailer on one of the only side streets in town. "We don't need a bunch of slick big-city Cape Girardeau types taking over our town."

As an incorporated village, Allenville has the power to enact zoning ordinances or levy business taxes that would effectively drive the get-cash-quick operations out of town. Unfortunately, nobody bothered to run for office last election, so the village board of trustees is completely vacant and powerless.

"Oops," stammered one village resident who almost put herself down as a write-in candidate last election. "Why didn't I see this coming?"