We recently interviewed several Pawn Shop owners from across the country to learn how some of their success had been attributable to their online business and sales. We asked what online sites (other than their own shop’s) they were using to find sales success or marketing their inventory and what their insights were on bringing and finding business on the Internet. Here’s what they had to say:
Money Mizer Pawn & Jewelry
Robbie Whitten is the CEO of Money Mizer Pawn & Jewelry, a franchised Pawn Shop chain based in Columbus, GA and uses eBay, GunBroker.com and social media sites like Facebook for his business. The business sees about 20% of gross sales coming from online, and in good times, a high side of 45%. Whitten says, “Online sales will typically generate higher profit yields because you have such a larger audience, even after all the fees associated with the sale. You have to keep selling to your local customer base to keep them returning to your brick and mortar store as well. Things are slowly changing in the Pawn Shop world, many of our local customers will purchase from us on eBay because they know that most of our higher end merchandise is now going online.” As for shipping, Whitten says, “We ship 25-40 packages a day per store on average, usually the local pickup only is on very large or heavy items that are too costly for shipping. We sell items like jet-ski’s, boats, tractors, etc. only on the local basis.”
Whitten says he’s exited about using the Internet to grow his business and consumer audience, especially since “Pawn Shops were not really franchise-able before the Internet and sites like eBay and Gunbroker.com. When I grew up in the business you basically did an apprenticeship for several years to learn how to value items. Now you can hire an hourly employee with some basic training and they can value items in real time and in a matter of seconds or minutes.”
American Jewelry and Loan
We also had the pleasure of interviewing Seth Gold, Manager of American Jewelry and Loan in Detroit, and well known for the hit TV show, Hardcore Pawn. Seth says in addition to using their own Pawn Shop website, PawnDetroit.com, they also use eBay and began selling on eBay about five years ago. To keep a competitive edge and stay on top of market trends, Seth says he likes to keep a close eye on informative sites like TheStreet.com and Yahoo Finance. From a direct sales perspective, Seth says online sales account for roughly 10% of their business, but in reality, his shop’s site brings in a lot more business than that. “People see us on Hardcore Pawn and then they check out our website – and since they see Les and I haggling with customers on TV, they’re comfortable calling the store to see if they can get a better deal. They’re always blown away when one of us actually picks up the phone! So we see a lot of sales happening that way as well.” The shop’s website is only about a year old and admittedly they were a little apprehensive at first with the new technology, the sale of a $10,000 Rolex Watch the first day caught their attention. Seth says “We have a loyal following on eBay and it’s a great place to find some of our more unique items available.” While their online business has certainly brought some great success, having people come visit the shop is what the folks at American Jewelry and Loan really appreciate and look forward to.
Big Tim’s Pawn
Tim Russell, owner of Big Tim’s Pawn in Pinellas Park and Clearwater, Florida is also enthusiastic about finding Pawn business success online. Russell says, “Big Tim’s Pawn uses Craigslist to list our items locally, anything from welders, to portable air conditioner units to guitars and amps. These are items people call the shop looking for because they want to pay less than retail and know they can get a great deal. We list the collectibles, specialty items and higher end electronics on eBay, items that will definitely sell, but perhaps not necessarily in our shop.” “While we sell guns in the shop, we list many on GunBroker.com, which is an auction website specifically for firearms and we use Amazon.com to sell DVDs, Blu-Rays, CDs and vinyl records.” Russell says, “Roughly 70% of total business comes from online sales.”
Russell says, “Although all the items we have for sale online can also be found on our shop’s website, we have some great loyal customers who are genuinely interested in what we have in the shop as well, and we want customers to come into our shop because we take pride in helping people find short term solutions with cash loans. I think everyone should feel comfortable enough to walk into a Pawn Shop. We’re working hard to change the less-than-inviting pawn shop stigma.”
The Dina Collection
Yossi Dina and South Beverly Wilshire Jewelry & Loan To The Rescue of The Well-Heeled and Famous
Yossi Dina with the Dina Collection in Beverly Hills, CA says, “I do about 5% of my business on eBay, and I like it because I can sell to private individuals, dealers and collectors. This is in addition to my own site, The Dina Collection. “We see roughly 10% of sales coming from online business, and we’ll be increasing our online presence in the coming weeks as we expect to triple the number of items we list online and have a dedicated employee team to manage this.” Although Dina says online sales are good and he can accommodate buyers from around the world, “foot traffic will always be there because a large portion of my clientele require premier one-on-one treatment.”
Dina’s current site will soon be renamed to Pawn90210 after the E! Entertainment TV special, which premiered in September.
In an ever-changing economy with uncertain future conditions, one thing you can count on is the Pawn Shop Industry. Whether you’re looking for a short-term cash loan, worry free from credit checks, or you’re on the hunt for that one-of-a-kind treasure, chances are you’ll find it at a Pawn Shop for a great price. Buying pre-owned items is a great way to encourage re-use and recycling of perfectly functioning merchandise or equipment and Pawn Shops are leading the way to a great future for individual sellers and consumers.
A special thanks to all those who took the time to contribute to this great article!