In 1978, American Jewelry and Loan opened as Metro Detroit’s first suburban pawnshop. The 1,500 square foot location in Oak Park, Michigan was an offshoot of Sam’s Loan, a pawnshop at the corner of Wabash and Michigan Avenue where Les Gold grew up working for his grandfather. The move would change the trajectory of his life in ways he couldn’t have imagined while working alongside his “Popsie” as a youngster.
To celebrate its 40th anniversary, American Jewelry and Loan, now with three stores including its iconic 50,000 sq.ft. Detroit location, Gold is partnering with Junior Achievement of Southeastern Michigan (JA), and its JA Company program to ensure young entrepreneurs in Southeastern Michigan are able to fund their own dream businesses.
The Gold Bank, gifted by American Jewelry and Loan, but controlled and administered by JA, will be the source for low-interest small business loans for students involved in the JA Company program, which teaches entrepreneurship to high school students.
“The hardest part of getting a business off the ground is finding start-up capital,” said Les Gold, Owner, American Jewelry and Loan. “With the Gold Bank, I am pleased that these young entrepreneurs will have one more option to find resources to build their companies and their futures,” Gold added.
Junior Achievement of Southeastern Michigan is the youth arm of economic development in the region. The volunteer-driven non-profit, founded in Detroit in 1949, will teach 60,000 students in 10 counties the “business of life”—financial literacy, entrepreneurship, and work-readiness including career exposure and soft skills.
High school students involved in the JA Company program throughout Southeastern Michigan will be eligible for a loan from the Gold Bank. They must demonstrate the value and viability of their start-up during a “Shark Tank” style presentation to a panel of business leaders, including Les and his son Seth Gold. Students will be responsible for paying back the loans they obtain from the Gold Bank, with low interest, in the same semester in which they borrow it, thus ensuring the success of the program for years to come.
“The Gold Bank solves the problem every start-up business has—where to get money to launch a business,” said Margaret Trimer-Hartley, President of JA of Southeastern Michigan. “Our JA Company students will learn just how small business loans work in the real world,” added Trimer-Hartley.