What's the Score?
If you're as hooked on Hardcore Pawn as we are, you probably wonder what goes on behind the scenes. And not just behind the scenes, but behind those "Employees Only" doors. Seth Gold, Manager of American Jewelry and Loan, knows the store from top to bottom, from the smallest one karat diamond to the most gargantuan yellow school bus. Here he answers our questions about what's in store.
How many items do you have in stock at any given time?
We usually have about 40,000 items in pawn at any time, but of course we can't sell any of that unless a customer has defaulted on their loan. That said, we've got more than 60,000 items which are for sale. So in total, about 100,000 items live in our store.
So, what do you think the total value of those 100,000 items is?
That's a matter of opinion. [Laughs]
What's the percentage of items that are pawned versus sold?
95% of our customers pawn their merchandise. 5% bring in items to sell.
How many items come in one day?
On average, how often does a customer fail to pay back a loan and recover their collateral?
15% of the loans are not paid back and that's the merchandise that ends up on our showroom floor and on our website.
What do you have the hardest time re-selling?
Well, the prosthetic eye you saw one customer bring in last season would have been a tough one to sell! It's kind of size — and color! — specific. We can pretty much sell anything — anything other than the crazy things Les buys just because he thinks they're cool! The wine press would be a good example. When was the last time you heard of someone making wine from the grapes in their Detroit vineyard? Or the airplane propeller or that little toy tractor...
What's always an easy sell for you guys?
Large diamonds and portable media players.
How many cars do you have in stock on a given day?
On average, five.
What kinds of items do you purchase, no questions asked?
We always ask questions and we ask for ID. But if you're asking what we can resell the easiest – gold, gold, gold.
What's the one thing you have the most of?
How much room do you have devoted to storage?
40,000 sq. feet
What is the biggest item in terms of size you've ever had come through the store?
A car – probably a luxury car.
Any idea how many different species of animals have come into the store?
Dead or alive? We have a lot of furs here and as you can see, Les collects a lot of dead ones — taxidermy! — but as far as live animals, usually its some sort of reptile and we don't buy them.
What kinds of things do customers think you'll buy but actually aren't worth the trouble?
Boats and anything stolen!
What single item has been here the longest? Do you ever expect to sell it?
We have one piece of jewelry that's been here for 12 years. The customer keeps paying interest. The initial loan was for $100, but they've paid more than $1000 in interest. The piece is worth maybe a couple hundred dollars, but clearly they don't want to give it up. We only accept things in pawn that we know we can sell. Unlike some of the things Les buys cause he thinks they're fun!
What happens to items that become obsolete, like portable cassette players, typewriters, rotary phones or 8 track players?
We can still sell pretty much anything. People are always coming in looking for VCRs. It's less expensive to buy a pre-owned VCR than to have all those tapes transferred.
How long has American Jewelry and Loan been in business?
The family has been in business for more than 40 years. Les trained at his grandfather's side. But American Jewelry and Loan just celebrated our 30th anniversary.
In the history of the store, (ballpark) how much money do you think has exchanged hands at American Jewelry and Loan?
Are you asking for the amount in American funds or do Pesos and Lira count?