See original post at the National Pawnbrokers Association website.
Seth Gold with American Jewelry and Loan, and one of the stars of truTV’s “Hardcore Pawn,” took time to visit with National Pawnbroker about some things other than being a star.
National Pawnbroker Magazine (NP): Tell us why you are a member of NPA.
Seth Gold (SG ): In addition to the extensive support and resources from NPA at the national level, there is still a focus on delivering information and assistance for issues at the local level by the staff. With their help over the past few years, we have been able fend off legislation that would have had a negative effect on the industry.
I also appreciate the increased focus that the NPA has on the upcoming generation of pawnbrokers. It was such a great honor to serve on a panel alongside Jordan Tabach-Bank and Lauren Kaminsky at this year’s Pawn Expo. We’re fortunate to be a part of the broader vision for the future of pawnbroking.
When I accepted my Pawnbroker of the Year award at the NPA annual meeting during Pawn Expo 2013, I mentioned how much I’ve learned by working alongside my family. The mentoring and education that I’ve received through my affiliation with the NPA is second only to the education I’ve gained as a fourth generation pawnbroker.
NP: You’re involved with many community service projects at the local level. Will you tell us about some of them?
SG: There’s no doubt that increased visibility creates a larger platform which allows us to draw attention to some of the most pressing needs in our community. Whether it’s serving as auctioneers, donating behind-the-scenes experiences, or hosting events at the store, it’s truly gratifying to help our community in real and meaningful ways and give back.
For example, winters are extremely harsh in Detroit and a lot of our customers struggle with heating their homes. We partnered with THAW: The Heat and Warmth Fund, which is a local organization that offers assistance to people who can’t keep their heat turned on. In February 2014, we’ll have our second Hardcore THAW event at the store and expect to welcome over 300 guests to raise over $30,000 for the cause.
I’m also proud to be a founding supporter of Wigs for Kids, a local charity that helps support children who suffer hair loss as part of their treatment of chronic diseases such as cancer. It’s tremendously rewarding to work to support these families as they face the unimaginable challenge of a sick child.
This commitment to community service isn’t exclusive to our family’s business, of course. In fact, most of the pawnbrokers that I know similarly believe in the importance of supporting the communities where they live and work. Philanthropy is a big part of the pawnbroker culture.
NP: Talk about your experience when you attended the NPA Legislative Conference.
SG: I’ll admit that the thought of attending a Legislative Conference on Capitol Hill sounded intimidating at first. But the real experience is anything but intimidating. It’s actually very empowering and rewarding.
The NPA does a great job of setting up face-to-face meetings with legislators who make
decisions that directly impact our business. This conference provides pawnbrokers with the opportunity to articulate their concerns without pre-conceived notions or stereotypes. The NPA prepares attendees with key talking points and insights ahead of time, so no one should ever feel like they’re unable to have their place in the conversation.
If you want to network with the best minds in the industry and really raise your knowledge of pawnbroking as a business, then attending this conference is definitely the right step.
NP: You’ve done publicity events at pawn stores nationwide. What is that like?
SG: Typically, pawn store owners host an event and partner with a local charity whereby both parties benefit from the merchandise and in-store sales. It’s thrilling to see lines of people come out to meet me and grab a photo or an autograph as they do business. At the same time, they have the opportunity to give back to the local community.
It is always exciting to meet with fans of the show, particularly in a pawn store setting. These appearances have all been really successful collaborations. In addition to meeting fans, it’s a great opportunity to network with fellow pawnbrokers and see the way that they run their stores. Folks like Bob Mc- Cullough, Nick Fulton, Michael Mack, Perry Lewin, Bruce Fortier, Ben Levinson, and others who have created some really successful businesses. I enjoy seeing their operations in person and hearing about what does and doesn’t work for them. It allows me to keep my finger on the pulse of the industry.
NP: Talk about the importance of being involved in the industry on a larger scale.
SG: American Jewelry and Loan is unique in a lot of ways, but fundamentally, we face the exact same macroeconomic and legislative concerns thateach one of my fellow pawnbrokers encounters.
With the help of my peers and the involvement of our NPA committees, we discuss and navigate issues such as interest rate regulations and consumer privacy threats.
NP: Was there a moment when you realized that pawn was what you wanted to do?
SG: Unlike my dad and sister, I didn’t always see my future being spent working in the family business. Growing up, all my friends’ parents were doctors and lawyers and I got caught up in some of the more negative stereotypes of the pawn business. I went to the University of Michigan with the intention of becoming a doctor.
To my family’s credit, they supported my plan and me. During my senior year, I realized that I had no passion for medicine, but rather enjoyed those weekends and days off from school where I would drive from Ann Arbor to our pawn store in Detroit to work. At that point, I knew I wanted to join the family business. And the rest is history!
NP: Do you plan to take your career in anotherdirection?
SG: Yes and no. I am a pawnbroker for life and I would never change what I do. I’ve opened myself up to a lot of risk by inviting television cameras into such an integral part of my life, but with risk comes rewards in the form of some unusual opportunities and experiences for which I am truly grateful.
I realize that the show won’t last forever, but I’m proud for what we’ve achieved as a family, as the biggest pawn store in Detroit, and as a member of the pawn industry.
One new direction that my career has recently taken is in the form of consulting. I have an amazing team at American Jewelry and Loan. So even with my busy schedule, I’m able to take on projects where I can offer expertise and insights to others who are interested in learning the business from the ground up, as well as help out established pawn stores that are looking to improve their business model.
NP: What do you love about being a pawnbroker?
SG: Unpredictability. Pawnbrokers never have the same day twice and it’s exhilarating. I cannot imagine doing anything else.
A big benefit for me is the opportunity to work alongside my family. Viewers of the show might generate their own opinions about the dynamics, but at the end of the day we’re a family. We remind ourselves and one another that although we have our differences of opinion when it comes to the business, our commitment to each other is the solid foundation from which we’re able to do what a lot of people simply can’t.
Another source of pride for me that stems from our roles as pawnbroking personalities is that visiting a pawn store is now cool. There are so many negative stereotypes surrounding the industry that have been dispelled thanks to reality shows such as ours. When people see our store on television every week, they are not only entertained, but also become open and aware to situations where they themselves might choose to visit their local pawn store.