Thinking back on how the pawn business has changed over the last 20+ years… it is amazing. Many deals that were made years ago were by chance and by educated guess. We didn’t have the ability to “look it up online” or “call an expert” because a quick decision had to be made. This often made for some big wins and big losses. Here’s a couple that stood out over the years…
A client came in with a box of “gems” and approached one of my newer managers. They wanted to sell, but had no idea what they had other than “it might be worth something”. It was part of a storage unit that they had won, I believe. I could see a couple of good-sized emeralds that were worth some money so I quickly stepped in and made a deal for $200. The customer was happy because they got more money than expected and I knew that we’d be fine overall. We were more than fine! Shuffling through the stones later in the day I came across a 3ct princess cut diamond that ultimately ended up selling for $30k. Doesn’t happen often, especially today, but it sure is nice when it does!
On the other hand, I recall being a young broker trying to impress those around me when I made some crazy mistakes—but that’s how we learned back then! I’ve never been afraid of making decisions, even big ones, but I learned quickly that the bigger the money…the longer you should evaluate your decision. I loaned on a Rolex Day/Date with some phone assistance from someone who thought they knew what they were doing…they didn’t and it cost me over $5,000! Talk about having your stomach drop when I was told that it wasn’t real! From that day forward, I gathered every piece of knowledge that I could find on high end watches, became friends with Rolex dealers, and learned as much as I could about these time pieces.
With the internet and mobility in play, I don’t believe there are as many home run deals to be made today. On the flip side, there’s a lot more security in lending money due to the availability of product knowledge online. Overall, your consumer is more aware of their item’s value and often the broker’s margins are smaller, but there is always enough to be shared in a win-win situation.