People of Pawn: Michael Cohen

My number one skill in all my endeavors is my natural ability to find the simplest solution to almost any problem. My number two skill is my ability to connect with and put myself in the shoes of almost any customer that walks in our doors.

Michael Cohen

How did you get started in pawn?

I am a second-generation pawnshop owner. After spending 12 years in NYC starting and selling a successful advertising agency, I decided to move back home to take over the family operation.

 

What is the number one pawn skill you have?

 

My number one skill in all my endeavors is my natural ability to  find the simplest solution to almost any problem. My number two skill is my ability to connect with and put myself in the shoes of almost any customer that walks in our doors.

 

What pawn talent do you wish you had?

I wish I had a better memory. Any math formula, person’s name, coin value, etc… Just about every time, I have to look it up or apologize for not remembering.

 

What customer behavior aggravates you the most?

It’s rare that I can’t see a customer’s point of view which helps me tremendously to calm just about any situation that might aggravate others. If I had to pick one, it would be when a manager gives a customer an answer. and it’s not good enough unless the same answer comes from the owner. The lack of respect sometimes shown to my managers, or my employees, does upset me.

 

What customer behavior brings you joy?

The appreciation our customers show for helping them out. I give the letters, notes and comments from customers to my employees, and then see how proud it makes them feel to work in a business I nurtured.

 

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

Freshly pulled out gold teeth, like minutes earlier.

 

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

I always wanted to be a director, but lately, I have really been enjoying performing improv and stand-up comedy.

 

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Entering retirement and enjoying my hobbies, trips with the family, and calm.

 

Do you want your children to follow in your footsteps?

Because I don’t own the property where my pawn shops are located and the strict regulations I am under limit moving options, I don’t know if it is a viable business to pass on to my children, unfortunately.

 

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

You are asking the wrong person about college degrees. While I have one, I am pretty sure it was given to me for my ability to drink for four years. I have met plenty of people, with and without college degrees, and their ability to be successful, with or without a degree, does not seem to be a factor. Statistics might say something different, but I bet there are many other factors that can also determine how successful someone is.

 

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

It can be a super fun business to get into. Find an employer that cares about their employees. What is great about the pawn industry is the number of stores that are still family owned with some really great owners. If you are thinking of opening a pawn shop, start by working for someone else, learn everything you can and make sure you love the business. Then make sure you have a few hundred thousand dollars you don’t mind handing out while surviving for a full year of doing business before seeing any type of profit. …the monetary and emotional rewards will be plentiful.

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