More good press for pawn shops

A ReutersMoney feature discovers (again) that well-to-do people use pawn shops for short-term loans. Pawnbrokers like to emphasize this, because so many people are convinced that all our customers are fences, derelicts and down-and-outers.

When Marc Kaye needed a loan to fund his boutique insurance firm at a time when payroll, his kids’ college tuition and a mortgage payment were all draining his cash reserves, he didn’t go to a bank.

Instead, he pulled a 1940s Picasso pencil drawing off his living room wall and made an appointment with Borro, a high-end pawnbroker. Borro did not require mounds of paperwork, did not care about his credit rating and did not put him through the third degree over how the money would be used.

“I needed some immediate cash,” says Kaye, who quickly got a six-month loan of $39,500, agreeing to a monthly interest rate of 3 percent plus about $175 in processing fees. “I had never pawned anything before.”

Nothing really new here. Even our little Maui pawn  shop has made a loan on a Picasso. It doesn’t happen every day, but it happens perhaps more often than you would think.

That’s the great thing about pawnbrokers. They are completely democratic.

Well, maybe not completely. Because some customers don’t want to be seen in a pawnshop, either because they are embarrassed or because they don’t want anyone to know money is tight, many brokers — including Beverly Loan Co., mentioned in the story and famous among Hollywood stars as a place to get a discreet hit of cash — have set up private transaction rooms, with secluded entrances.

At Beverly Loan Co., a brick-and-mortar pawn business outside Los Angeles that has catered to the wealthy for 75 years, business is also brisk, and small business customers are on the rise, says owner Jordan Tabach-Bank.

To meet demand for loans ranging from a few thousand dollars to $1 million, he opened a second office in the New York City’s International Gem Tower; it offers well-heeled customers secure storage for everything from GIA-certified diamonds to Patek Philippe watches.

Kamaaina Loan has a private transaction room, too. We go further. Call for an appointment, and if the deal sounds big enough, we’ll send a limo to pick you up.

In  reality, our private transaction room is used  at least as much for appraisals to help conservators settle estates as it is for pawn loans.  (Since the owner is a court-recognized appraiser.)

And not necessarily only for high-value deals. As Jimi, who has been working our pawn counter for longer than anybody except our owner, Big Rich, points out, sometimes a customer comes in with 50 items, all different, that he wants to borrow on (or sell).

That’s awkward to do on the counter, so usually that bargaining ends up in the private transaction room, where there is room to spread out. (Think about offering a collection or coins or stamps. It takes time and space to go through a big assortment.)diamond

Should you be interested in the private transaction room, call for an appointment, 242-5555.