People of Pawn: Gayle Ferebee

Mark Campanale People of Pawn

My number one skill that I attribute my success in the pawn business to is my “people” skills.  My positive attitude and love for the pawn industry has been key to making my customers feel like friends, training my team for (only) EXCEPTIONAL customer service, and, most recently, playing a lead role in the re-organization our Tennessee Pawnbrokers Association.

~ Gayle Ferebee

How did you get started in pawn?  

I am a fourth-generation pawnbroker.  My mother, Louise Seawright, (your first NPA President), inherited a tiny pawn shop from her father, across from Ft. Campbell KY in the early 1970s.  She had a playpen set up in the back for me and my brother, (shout out to Kyle Farson of 1st National Pawn in North Carolina.)  Two doors down from my mother’s store, in the same shopping center, was Hazel’s Pawn Shop…my grandmother’s store.  As soon as Kyle and I could walk, we were toddling between the two stores and always just considered the pawn shops another home.  Around 1st grade, when we learned to read and write, our first pawn shop “job” was inventorying jump boots and BDUs.  My first paying job was Silver Dollar Pawn Shop in 1989.  Over the past 32 years, I have worked as broker, bookkeeper, store manager, multi-store supervisor, and currently own my store in Springfield, TN, (with my eye set on a second location in Columbia, TN.)

What is the number one pawn skill you have?

My number one skill that I attribute my success in the pawn business to is my “people” skills.  My positive attitude and love for the pawn industry has been key to making my customers feel like friends, training my team for (only) EXCEPTIONAL customer service, and, most recently, playing a lead role in the re-organization our Tennessee Pawnbrokers Association.

What pawn talent do you wish you had?

ANYTHING relating to technology.  I slack on social media, and I know I am missing out on the online presence and market.  I applaud all of you that find the time to manage it.

What customer behavior aggravates you the most?

I am most aggravated by the assumption that we pay pennies on the dollar for merchandise and/or assuming that pawn shop merchandise is stolen.  Despite my irritation toward these attitudes , I put on my friendly smile, I explain how we “really” operate, and, most often, build a relationship with a returning customer.

What customer behavior brings you joy?  

I love the (frequent) compliments that we get on our store organization, pricing, and our friendly staff.  

What is the weirdest thing you have ever written a loan for? 

In the early 2000s, we had a customer pawn a straight jacket with leather straps, (which is, apparently, a key value point.)  After paying to extend his loan one time, he ended up forfeiting the straight jacket.  We didn’t sell it right away, but “tested” it several times over the next couple of years before finally selling it to a customer that offered $200 for it.

What career would you pick if you were not in pawn? 

If I weren’t in the pawn business, I would definitely be doing something creative and artistic.  

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

I will still be involved with the pawn industry, but less involved with day-to-day operations of the store(s).   If I can figure out how to make a modest living while making great friends in the pawn industry, I will stick with networking and industry watch.

Do you want your children to follow in your footsteps?

I have one, beautiful, 28-year-old daughter that holds a Business degree, with a focus on Marketing.  For now, she is working outside of the pawn industry, but she has always proven to be a natural in the business.  I still have hope that she will follow in my footsteps, one day. 

What college degree would be great to have to work in pawn? 

Marketing to sell yourself, and Accounting to protect yourself.

What is the one piece of advice to anyone considering the pawn industry?

The most money you will ever make in the pawn business is the money that you DO NOT LOSE!  From day one, focus on inventory control and have your checks and balances in place.