Ten practical lessons pawnbrokers can learn from our devastating fire

Mark Campanale NPA News

The destruction of your business can teach you a lot. Here are a few of the most practical of those tips.

On June 11, 2020, just before midnight, Beth and Adam Anundi received a call from the alarm company for their Salem, Oregon, pawnshop, Capital Pawn. Within minutes, seven engines and two ladder trucks responded to the two-alarm fire. By the time the Anundis arrived from their home, the entire building was engulfed.

“We built this business from the ground up and had just opened three other shops; we loved this little pawn shop with our whole hearts. What were we going to do? How were we going to take care of our customers? Our team?”

There are plenty of business owners who’d never be able to recover from such a crippling setback during the midst of a global pandemic. Beth and Adam Anundi are nothing like that. “We never really considered anything except moving forward,” says Adam, “because this is the store where we launched a dream.”

As anyone could guess, there were a lot of emotional and leadership lessons that their entire team learned as a result of this devastating experience. “Obviously, we never thought this would happen to us,” Adam says, “but here’s what we wish we’d known beforehand,” explaining that they share this list so that peers and colleagues can prepare for the unexpected:

  1. Be a team; have great culture; know how to contact your team members.
  2. Close all interior doors and windows as it can stop the spread of the fire.
  3. Use cloud software system or a system that backs up to somewhere outside of your physical location. Properly describe items in your system as they are put on loan or purchased; take a photo.
  4. Have a plan for any issue: know who to call and have that list, both a virtual and hard copy, in both the safe and another location. Be flexible and just do it; if it doesn’t work, alter the plan and try again
  5. Confirm your insurance is up to date and you understand your policy. Know what you need for business interruption coverage, now double or triple it.
  6. Know your neighbors and connect with them regularly.
  7. Create a list of Personal Business Property (once your building is empty of inventory, turn your building upside down and shake it; whatever falls out is the personal business property and may not be covered in the same way insurance-wise)
  8. Screw down and bolt any fixtures and shelving to a wall or floor, so it is structural rather than personal business property
  9. Don’t post on social media right away and instead focus on creating a plan with your team that will work – in other words, have a script and make no ultimatums or promises.
  10. Secure as much as possible in the safe or vault each night. Put things away where they belong each night (guns, 4473s, paperwork, etc).

One year after their fire, on June 12 2021, the Anundis hosted a Grand Reopening event in their newly-renovated location, featuring an even larger eye-popping luxury showroom, upgraded firearms displays, and a change in traffic pattern designed to enhance their customer’s in-store experience.

“Despite everything, we still feel so fortunate,” Beth shared, “our approach and our team have won local and national recognition and has led to the opening of four additional locations in McMinnville, Albany, Beaverton, and our latest acquisition in Portland of H & B Jewelry and Loan, Oregon’s oldest licensed pawn shop.”

More information about Capital Pawn is available at www.cappawn.com.