Being ‘female friendly’

We have been in pawn shops that do look kind of like a man cave, but we think this story in the Tampa Tribune overstates the novelty of Lauren Myhre’s “female friendly” She Money shop.

Most pawn shops, including our Maui pawn shop, have something like a 50-50 split of men and women customers, if not an absolute majority of women. After all, most pawn customers are working people, and women are in the work force in equal numbers with men.

Still, it couldn’t hurt to cater to half your audience, and Myhre has gone extra steps:

Like most any pawn shop, She Money takes gold, silver and diamond jewelry, but the store accepts high-end costume jewelry, too. Most women don’t have the tools and other items that are staples of the typical pawn shop, but Myhre saw the genuine value in other items they do possess.

“Women don’t always have jewelry to pawn or sell,” Myhre said. “I take a lot of crystal, such as Waterford or Tiffany crystal, as well as designer handbags and sunglasses, figurines, hand-carved wooden pieces, art, sterling silver, pieces of fine furniture, high-end lamps, musical instruments and even high-end cars.”


At Kamaaina Loan, we take most of those things, too, without specially considering ourselves “female friendly.”  Cars are an exception as Hawaii law restricts that, but our retail store has sun glasses, art, designer handbags. Not many lamps, perhaps.

A lot of what any pawn shop accepts as collateral (or will purchase) is unisex. Game systems are an obvious example. We probably get as many Xboxes and Playstations from women as from men, and, in fact, a lot from moms accompanied by their children.


Want to visit ‘Pawn Stars’?

Get in line. This tip from says 4,000 people a day go through the famous Gold and Silver Pawn Shop in Las Vegas.

Pro: It’s free.

Con: There is usually a line.

Helpful hint: There’s a 24-hour drive-through window.

Seth Gold on pawnbroking and teevee

Hard Core Pawn’s Seth Gold gave an interview to the National Pawnbrokers Association in which he talks about how he was headed for a career in medicine, in part because he had picked up the negative attitudes toward pawnbroking that were — and still are — so common, even growing up in a pawnbroking family.

But he got — sidetracked hardly seems the right word — back on the family track and ended up in the family business anyway.

Seth Gold at work

Seth Gold at work

He praises the effect of the show on himself and on the pawn  business in general:

Another source of pride for me that stems from our roles as pawnbroking personalities is that visiting a pawn store is now cool. There are so many negative stereotypes surrounding the industry that have been dispelled thanks to reality shows such as ours. When people see our store on television every week, they are not only entertained, but also become open and aware to situations where they themselves might choose to visit their local pawn store.

Hard Core Pawn is an unreal reality show in one sense, at least. The Golds are well-known in the pawn business, and are really sweethearts. All that drama on the screen; that’s Hollywood.

(We are Kamaaina Loan are aware our local readers may not be familiar with Hard Core Pawn, unless they get it via satellite or internet, as Oceanic doesn’t favor it. But the show has the Golds arguing amongst themselves all the time. That’s scripted for them. In real life they get along.)

What was he thinking?

From Albuquerque, a short piece about how pawn brokers and police interact to catch bad guys.

There’s something new here. We have often cautioned that pawn shops are bad places to sell stolen goods, since we take your name, address, phone number, driver’s license and thumb print; plus each transaction is videotaped.

To heck with Sherlock Holmes examining footprints in the snow.

But, in Albuquerque, there was one thief who pressed his luck even further. If you watch the report, it says  a regular customer at University Pawn snatched a tray of chains and ran out. Then went to a different pawn shop to sell them.

What was he thinking?

The KOAT report mentions a pawn shop network that tracks thefts in Albuquerque and also gives the example of a woman whose ring was stolen who emailed pictures to every pawn shop, resulting in a recovery.

First, you have to have a picture available to email. Second, on Maui, you can use, Kamaaina Loan’s exclusive website where crime victims can post information about their losses. That simultaneously alerts both our pawnbrokers and the Maui police, and provides descriptions.

The irony here is that we make it as easy as possible to alert us, and we (helped along by state reporting laws) make it as hard as possible for thieves to fence at pawn shops in general and our Maui pawn shop in particular. Well, that makes it less likely, on the whole, that a recovery will be made through our shop.




Class acts

A repeated theme here at Kamaaina Loan blog has been the turnaround in the attitude toward pawn shops in the press, probably due to reality teevee more than anything else.

Over the weekend, a kind of milestone in this process occurred when the New York Times published an admiring piece about pawn shops for rich East Siders, based on a 250-year0-old English pawn shop’s first branch in Manhattan. Not only that, although the story was in the “Wealth Matters” section, far inside the bulky newsprint version of the Sunday Times, for a brief time today, the story was on the front page of the Times’ internet edition, until it was pushed off by fresh Chris Christie scandals.

Their fancy East Side store

Their fancy East Side store

Now, as a pawn shop, we are happy to have the Times look upon pawn shops as public-spirited businesses, or at least as public-spirited as the big banks the paper writes about all the time. But we do have a couple of comments.

First, the Times is about a year late on this story. Reports about pawning by the rich have been common fare on such sites as CNN for a long time now. Second, the Times may have been late, but its reporting (by Paul Sullivan) was superior:

The high-end portion of the industry is betting that with comparatively lower pawn rates and an ability to fulfill even large loan requests in a day or two, it will be able to build its business on happy repeat customers. Paul Aitken, founder and chief executive of Borro, said he attributed repeat business to the human desire to spend today without thinking about tomorrow.

“Entrepreneurial people like to do things on the spur of the moment, and they’re probably not the best planners,” he said. “When they have money in their pocket, they like to buy luxury goods. When they don’t, they like to use those goods to get money for their next venture.”

And that is how he ends up taking a Mercedes McLaren in as collateral for a loan.

That’s an aspect — we are not necessarilu endorsing it — we haven’t seen in numerous other stories about high-end pawn.

Third, high-end pawn is not, as Sullivan’s story implies, something that arose when banks tightened credit following the Panic of 2008. It’s been part of the business all along. It has probably extended its catchment area since 2008.

Our Wailuku pawn shop. We have a fish.

Our Wailuku pawn shop. We have a fish.

Fourth, while our pawn shop at 96 N. Market St. is not as flossy as Suttons & Robertsons Upper East Side shop, our Private Viewing Room is just as swank as S&R’s, what with its Chinese antiques and paneling. And — something S&R does not seem to have — its private entrance, for those rich borrowers who don’t want the neighbors to know they are pawning the McLaren. (Actually, in Hawaii law pawn shops cannot make loans on McLarens, but you get the concept.)


Fifth, the bottom line is, as always with pawn loans, would you rather be turned down by a banker or accepted by a pawn broker. Because pawn brokers lend on collateral, and the extra scrutiny that has scared bankers into holding onto their money means nothing to us. Gold is gold, a diamond is a diamond, a Rolex is a Rolex, whether the stock market is booming or crashing.

A ‘blue feather’ day

At our Maui pawn shop a “blue feather day” is one when someone says, “Gee, it’s been ages since anybody brought in a nice 2-carat diamond,” and the door opens and in walks a nice 2-carat diamond.


Or, as pawnbroker Stefen explains her blue feather day Thursday:

“I was working in 50 N.Market Street [where we sell golf clubs] on the new inventory system. While putting the new price tags on the golf clubs, I remarked to my co-worker Bob how nice a certain vintage set of clubs were. Bob then said that the clubs should go on eBay because it was gonna take a special person to buy those clubs because of their age.

“I noticed how nice the wood clubs were and said that they were the type of clubs Alice Cooper would appreciate since he’s bought vintage clubs from us before. Bob agreed and said that he thought Alice would like them as well, or maybe some kind of sporting club that could put them on display. After that, I went about finishing tagging the rest of the golf clubs and left to go do more work in another room.

“Not an hour later did Bob call me in the room I was working to tell me that Alice Cooper had just come in and bought those Vintage Clubs! I said ‘No way,’ but Bob told me that he had told Alice Cooper about the conversation we had just had about him and the clubs and Alice said, ‘They’re mine now.’ Both of us couldn’t believe that Alice Cooper had just come in and bought those clubs within an hour of us saying he should have them. What a coincidence huh?”

Big Rich picks up the story. “Alice Cooper visits the store from time to time, and he has bought things, not only clubs, before; but he doesn’t come in every week or every month.”

The clubs, a set of three woods in beautiful condition, had been around for a while (nobody remembers exactly how long) and had just been put out on retail display. “It’s like those clubs were calling, ‘Alice, Alice Cooper. Come by Kamaaina Loan, come by Kamaaina Loan.’ “

Rich adds, “You better believe we gave him a great price.”

Alice, of course, is a huge golf fan and even titled his autobiography, “Alice Cooper, Golf Monster.”

A few words about protecting artwork

Via Pawn Times, a link to a page of advice from Beverly Hills Pawn (where the movie stars go, so they say) about how to protect your artwork, particularly prints, lithographs and photographs.

Take good care of her

Take good care of her

Our Maui pawn shop also takes artwork in on pawn, and like Beverly Hills Pawn, we store it in climate-c0ntrolled spaces. The post has some cautions about storing your stuff at home, and that goes double for Maui, where humidity and mold are worse problems than in Southern California.

The post does not say it, but protecting art is cheap (how much can a Mylar sleeve cost?) while having a conservator restore it is expensive.

According to this Huffington Post story, in the five years 2007-2012, the number of pawn shops in the United States grew from 6,400 to 10,000.  We’re not too confident in the numbers. Nobody really keeps track, and other sources claim the country has about 12,00o pawn shops. santy If it is correct that there are 3,600 more pawn shops than there were before the stock market swoon of 2008, then that’s 2 new ones a week. It also means there are about as many pawn shops as McDonald’s hamburger stands. Whatever that says about us. On the other hand, the number of gas stations dwarfs both pawn shops and Mickey Ds at 159,000, but that’s down from 200,000+ 20 years ago (and down from over a quarter of a million in the cheap gas era of the 1950s). (Numbers from a website called, where you can play this comparison game all day long.) Well, whatever the exact number, the Huffington Post story fingers the reluctance of the big banks to lend to “non-standard” people and the decline of the “community banks,” which were allegedly a source of money for such folks in  the past. We doubt the accuracy of that. The most we’d accept is that smaller banks were prepared to make smaller loans that the big ones wouldn ‘t bother with. On the other hand, really small banks couldn’t lend much, because regulators tried to prevent them from making loans that were a large fraction of their capital. On the third hand, for Huffington, “small” means up to $100 million, which is enormous by pawn shop standards. Even the big chains don’t have total loans that approach that. Most of those 10,000 pawn shops do under a million a year, probably. But the point, made to Huffington by our friend Jerry Whitehead (a consultant who advises Kamaaina Loan) is that:

pawnshops are focused on consumers who are “getting forgotten in the banking system.”

We’d put it another way. Unlike other lenders, pawn shops don’t turn away anybody. If you’ve got collateral, we’re good to go.

A depressing tale of fake pawn shops

The Milwaukee Sentinel has uncovered a depressing — some might go so far as to say, slimy — story about how the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms goes about intercepting illegal gun sales. It involves treachery, sales of illicit drugs, recruitment of mentally-damaged mules . . .

And that’s just on the law enforcement side.

Among the tactics was setting up fake pawn shops. Thanks ATF. It’s not as if legit pawn shops like our Maui operation don’t have to struggle against an undeserved — we think — reputation of pawn shops as fences and exploiters.

How bad did it get? What’s known is very bad, but there are reasons to suspect the situation is worse than the public knows:

The ATF refused the Journal Sentinel’s request for an interview with Director B. Todd Jones or other agency officials to address findings of the investigation. Instead, the agency provided a written statement that failed to answer any questions, and spokeswoman Ginger Colbrun suggested reporters read ATF news releases issued after the stings.
The use of falsefront businesses to capture crooks has a long and, at least in the hands of journalists, distinguished history. The Chicago Sun-Times and the Better Government Association once set up a bar called the Mirage (get it?) to capture corrupt city inspectors. They won a Pulitzer Prize.
One difference between them and the ATF was that the journalists were not themselves criminals.
As more revelations come out — and it looks like both parties are ready to have Congress investigate — it is unlikely that there will be local examples. Hawaii pawn shops do not generally deal in firearms.  But on behalf of our honest colleagues on the Mainland, we are just as angry as we know they are.

Badge of shame

Badge of shame

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Pawn 101: Pawn records aid Maui police in death investigation

Kamaaina Loan’s pawn manager Krystal Cabiles is famous in the pawn shop for her steel-trap memory for names, faces and phone numbers. Krystal did it again today, when she matched a photo that Maui police had posted on Facebook with a pawn customer she had seen — just once — two months ago.

The body of a man was discovered a few days ago on the grounds of a Lahaina resort, and police retrieved a driver’s license. But the information on it led to a dead end, and police could not trace the man’s family. They are withholding information about him until they can find them.

They didn’t even know where on Maui the man had been staying.

Krystal says she was “making my nightly Facebook rounds” when she saw the picture. She recognized it. The man had done a pawn loan with us, and the records gave his name, address, fingerprint etc. Even better, although visitors don’t have to tell us where they are staying (we use their home addresses), the man had mentioned the resort where he was staying, and even why he was on Maui.

At police request, Kamaaina Loan blog is withholding that, too, until the family can be found. But it was a good thing the man had mentioned where he was staying, because he forgot his driver’s license. Our pawn broker Alan Cooperstein drove all the way to the west side to return it.

So this morning, Big Rich was able to tell the police where the man  had been staying, and using a credit check program, supplied a list of what appeared to be his relatives and, possibly, the name of the man ‘s family business.

As this is posted, police are following the leads.

As Big Rich rec

Richard Dan on Maui

Big Rich, tracer pf lost persons

alls, this was not the first time his pawn records solved a mystery. Once, years ago, a pawn ticket found on the body of a murder victim in Los Angeles led police to Big Rich, who had the victim’s pawned radio, which had his Social Security number on it.