History of the Store

Sam's Loans

Sam’s Loans

In his book, For What it’s Worth: Business Wisdom from a Pawnbroker, Les says “Growing up Popsie was my positive voice and my biggest supporter. By the time I was born, he was running a small but successful pawnshop, called Sam’s Loan, at Michigan Avenue and 5th Street in Detroit. That’s the store I grew up in, the place I learned to be a salesman. That was my business school. I still have the old sign in my office: “Sam’s Loan—Money in 1 Minute.” That’s where Les made his first sale, which he describes as a “million dollar deal” at age 7.

In 1978, in business with his father, Les was the first area pawnbroker to branch out into the suburbs when he opened his own store, American Jewelry and Loan in 1978.

He branched out on his own in 1982 and American Jewelry and Loan moved to its present location in 1993. Now over 50,000 square feet, the building was once a 60-lane bowling alley (four lanes still exist in working order, although the space is used for storage).

Today, the store is one of the largest and most widely recognized pawn shops in the world, thanks to becoming the setting of a record-breaking American reality television show, ‘Hardcore Pawn’. Employing over 50 employees, it remains a full-service pawn shop where thousands of transactions are conducted each day – now, with an online store that enables customers and fans throughout the world to do business at the store whose motto has always been ‘Where Detroit Cashes In’.

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Pawntoons: Now Playing

Pawntoons! An animated series featuring Les, Seth, and Ashley Gold. Be sure that you subscribe to our American Jewelry and Loan YouTube channel!