Pawn Ups the Image

by RaeAnne Marsh

Completed this month, Pawn 1st’s renovations were designed to have an impact beyond sprucing up the outward aesthetics of the stores. Upgraded lighting, new floors and several other cosmetic upgrades inside and refreshed walkways and landscaping outside are part of expressing the company’s core value to be “green and clean” in order to attract more customers and make the pawn shopping experience more enjoyable for consumers.

Eight of the 20 Phoenix stores received this treatment, which cost approximately $70,000 each, augmenting the company’s additional goal of improving the image of the pawn shop industry as a whole by requiring all store associates to now dress in professional business attire.

The retail experience is one side of the pawn business. Wares may change on a daily basis, with mundane items like jewelry, power tools, musical instruments and bicycles sharing display space with collectible Nike shoes, autographed memorabilia, designer accessories, horse saddles and even boats.

“If someone comes into our store and wants to outright ‘sell’ an item to us and not get a loan, that item will be on display for sale in the store. There are hundreds of items that we buy that are for sale inside the store,” says John Thedford, founder of SMART Financial, a specialty consumer financial services and retail company of which Pawn 1st is part..

Pawn also serves a function as a financial lender, providing a pawn “loan” to someone who brings a collateral item into the store. The person pays interest on the loan and makes loan payments, and the item is stored in the backroom. When the loan is paid off, the collateral item is returned to the borrower. If the person who received the loan defaults on the loan (doesn’t make regularly scheduled payments), then he forfeits his collateral item, which remains on hold for a certain number of days but then goes on the sales floor for the general public.

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