The role of pawnshops in a community

I am reminded again today how misunderstood we are as an industry. Within the last week we’ve helped a fairly prominent individual in the community span a financial shortcoming. This isn’t the first time we’ve helped this person and hopefully (for us as a business) not the last.
It does however bring to mind how far from reality some of the public notions on pawnshops can be. The person in question is employed in a high-profile job – the kind of person you would never imagine as being a client of pawnbroker. Unfortunately – that is the problem.
The lawmakers and newsmakers see us catering to a ‘lower class of humanity’ instead of realizing that everyone needs a hand now and again. Some of the things we’ve done:

  1. Helped someone buy their first home by pawning their vintage guitar collection.
  2. Helped someone move home to Ontario by buying a 1.87CT diamond appraised at $29,000.
  3. Bankrolled a business so they could pay their staff until their delinquent clients paid them.
  4. Helped liquidate an estate so someone could pay funeral costs.
  5. Helped a single mother with child expenses after a messy divorce.

Who is to say which of these has more worth? Who else would these people have turned to? What would they have done if we weren’t around?
There’s the flipside of the scenario as well – how many people just starting out in life get further ahead by buying from us. We’ve had someone propose on one knee in our store after buying an engagement ring (talk about putting her on the spot!). I can’t count how many dozens of guitars we’ve sold to budding musicians (Remember: Jimi Hendrix got his first guitar at a pawnshop!). We’ve helped people recover from insurance claims, replaced lost diamonds and setup people with their first computers.
It may sound kind of strange but some days I’m damn proud to do what I do. Because as unglamorous as this industry is, we can be the cement that holds someone’s world together.