Mansfield pawn store does brisk business

Mansfield pawn store does brisk business
Difficult economic times bring more people to get loans on their belongings

From Mansfield News

MANSFIELD — The struggling economic climate has drawn a lot of new customers to Johnson Brothers’ Jewelry & Loan, 32 S. Park St.

“Customers are still coming in to pawn jewelry to get money for car repairs until they get that paycheck,” Eric Johnson said. “We have a lot of people come in just to get money for gas.

“Business is very good as far as the loans. TV shows have put a positive light on the industry. In the past, everybody only knew about a pawn shop through Hollywood and TV and showed us in a dimly lit pawn shop.

“We’re not really about that.”

Eric and his wife, Rhonda, have owned the downtown Mansfield store for more than 20 years.

Pawn shops are required by law to make a list of everything they buy, complete with make, model and serial number. The list is taken to the police department daily so authorities can compare items brought into pawn shops to any stolen items reported to them.

Eric is a member of the National Pawn Brokers Association and is vice president of Ohio Pawn Brokers Association. He said reality TV shows like “Pawn Stars” and “Hardcore Pawn” have helped to bring pawn shops into the mainstream.

“Pawn Stars” is a reality show on the History Channel that features a brightly lit pawn shop in Las Vegas. The store has cases of jewelry, memorabilia, antiques and other items for sale, while employees barter with sellers for their items.

“Hardcore Pawn” is another reality show spotlighting a Detroit pawn shop and airs on truTV.

What pawn shops do is provide short-term loans to people based on the value of an item they pawn. Those who repay the loans on time — usually a 91-day limit — get their items back. Those who don’t repay lose their items, which the pawn shop sells.

“Our most common thing is a pawn, people want their items back,” he said. “We just hold it for them for a short period of time, then they come back and get it and pay us a small storage and interest fee.”

Everything customers see on store shelves is for sale. Eric said prices are competitive with eBay.

Merchandise includes gold, hunting bows, guns, musical instruments, jewelry, big-screen TVs, game systems, laptops, cameras and more.

“The most popular item is gold,” he said. “We buy a lot of gold. Part of it is word-of-mouth. We do pay an extremely fair amount for loans and buys on gold.”

Gold, diamonds, guns, electronics and tools are also popular items, he said. The shop owners also deal in antique furniture, boats, cars, motorcycles, limousines, campers and tractors. Everyone seems to stop and admire the rows of guitars.

“I have a soft spot for guitars,” Eric said. “(But) I don’t play a chord.”

The downtown business owners said they like the work.

Eric said he learns something new every day.

“About products, about the people. I meet new people every day,” he said. “I love my job. I love people. It’s what we are in business for. That’s our main thing here, somebody comes in and needs a small loan. We fit that need. They need to borrow a few hundred dollars, maybe even a few thousand dollars. We can provide that for them. It’s quick. It’s confidential. They don’t have to go through any credit checks. We agree upon a price and they can walk out with a loan and come back and retrieve their item when they get financially stable again.”

An employee at the Diamond Street Pawn Shop, 78 N. Diamond St., said he believes the reality pawn shop shows are an annoyance to the real pawn shop businesses.

“A lot of it is dramatized,” said the employee who did not wish to be identified. “It’s in Las Vegas (‘Pawn Stars’), and around here people don’t lose money on gambling like in Las Vegas, so we don’t have people wanting to pawn their Porsche.”

A fully licensed federal firearms dealer, the Diamond Street Pawn Shop, has a jeweler on site and has been at this location for 21 years, he said.

Eric Johnson said he’s had people try to pawn some unusual things.

“We don’t take anything we have to feed or clean up after,” he said.

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