This article from Crain’s Cleveland features our colleagues from Uncle Ben’s Pawn Shop:
Long before most people ever heard of Las Vegas’ Pawn Stars or Detroit’s Hard Core Pawn crew, Lou Tansky was already living what would become a reality show for most of us.
For more than 50 years, he’s been working at Uncle Ben’s Pawn Shop in Cleveland, a business his father started in 1947. It’s not that Tansky’s old — he’s just 59 — but he got an early start.
“I have memories of being 6 years old and coming to work with my dad, earning a nickel a day,” Tansky said. “It was more work for my father to have us down there, I’m sure,”
His father, Ben, was just out of the service, having spent more than three years in combat during WWII. He had a $500 GI loan and, coincidentally, an uncle, Sam, who taught him the pawn business at another shop in Cleveland. Ben figured he could make a go of it on his own, and he set up shop at East 49th Street and Payne Avenue, where he did business for 47 years before the store moved to its current, 2,500-square-foot store on St. Clair Avenue.
Ben’s been gone since 1994, but the business remains in Lou’s blood, and he says he still loves going to work every day.
He says there’s lots to like about the pawn business, especially for a history buff like him. It really is true about pawn brokers never knowing what’s going to walk in the door, and on a recent August afternoon, Tansky was showing off some recent prizes, including a validated signature of George Washington. Tansky already had a John Quincy Adams and a James Munroe signature, but this was a first.
Coincidentally, a plaster bust of Washington, removed from a demolished home back in the 1950s, is the oldest resident of Uncle Ben’s Pawn Shop. It still sits in the front of the shop, and the boy who brought it in recently returned as a grown man and laughed when he saw it, Tansky said.
Read the full article at Crain’s Cleveland