How did you get started in pawn?
I was Born! As a third-generation pawnbroker I was working the pawn counter before I was in High school. I spent weekends, summers and winter breaks all through high school and college working with my family and closely with my father learning the business and getting a hands-on education.
What is the number one pawn skill you have?
Tech. I graduated Union College with a degree in Computer Engineering and continued a deep dive into software and systems when I went to work for a pawn software company right after college for a short while. Over the past few years, I took on a new role (on top of the many) of software engineer after I personally and single handedly developed our very own Point of Sale software that runs our 9 stores and is fully integrated into our website. Every day I continue to improve the code base.
What pawn talent do you wish you had?
After years of learning, research, NPA classes and hands on experience, I still look at a known authentic high-end watch and I still think it’s fake. For some reason I simply can’t get over the thought of “it’s supposed to be perfect” and in my opinion these watches simply are not perfect. I pretty much have the same issue with (known authentic) high end bags. To me, they simply all look cheap and fake and causes me a bit of stress trying to properly authenticate these types of items. Luckily my brother is more the expert, and I can lean on him for these items.
What customer behavior aggravates you the most?
“I ain’t no crack head, give me my money.” Why is it that some people are rude enough to just assume I think everyone is on drugs? Unfortunately, I can’t always meet your required financial needs just because that’s what you think your item is worth (was worth). It pains me but I remain calm and professional as always when really I want to jump over the counter and shove them out of the store.
What customer behavior brings you joy?
Customers are always happy when they receive money and of course many seem upset when they have to pay it back. It’s very fulfilling for me when a customer actually picks up their item, can look me in the face and say, “thank you, you really helped me out.” Are we here to make a profit? Of course. But our second objective is to help our community.
What is the weirdest thing you have ever written a loan for?
This is still a tie for me between 2 items. I pawned a prosthetic leg for $100, huge gamble obviously (the customer got a new one and no longer needed the older model). My brother hated me for taking it. We sold it immediately for nearly $500 when it went out for sale. Second was a HazMat ambulance, a real (retired) ambulance that was now being used by a private HazMat company. Luckily it was redeemed.
What career would you pick if you were not in pawn?
I did want to be a pilot in the Air Force, but they only want the smartest people, and I simply wasn’t an A student. Realistically, I suppose I would stay in the tech world given my enthusiasm for systems and software. Computers do what they are told to do and never, ever talk back (well, not yet). I prefer the screen to the human. Yes, I’m that guy.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
A full head of gray hair (currently salt and pepper colored) in my office, still expanding our operations. Maybe by then I won’t be the only one using my software.
Do you want your children to follow in your footsteps?
Fourth generation would be most amazing! Then my children can help me like I helped my father. My wife seems unsure how she feels, she’s an attorney like her father so might prefer that route. If they don’t want to run the pawnshops, then what do we do with the company… sell for a bunch of money to someone who still has brown hair?
What college degree would be great to have to work in pawn?
I’m not sure a college degree these days actually makes a difference in our industry. Suppose one can argue the concept of any continued education would help but they simply don’t teach Pawn in college. A business degree could help from the administrative side and if you take a route like mine, a background in technology for sure allowed me to propel our company to the forefront of the industry.
What is the one piece of advice to anyone considering the pawn industry?
It’s not a get rich quick industry as most people think. If you’re ready to work 7 days a week, miss family functions, weddings, vacations, romantic dates and answer the phone while you’re in the shower, then maybe you’ll survive. This business requires your full attention in order to succeed. In the end it can be very rewarding, both personally and financially. Put in the work and take the risk.