America loves Hardcore Pawn! I find this show to be very entertaining and try to take time to watch a full episode at least weekly. If you miss out, you can watch full Hardcore Pawn episodes online.
For Les Gold and his son Seth, owners and operators of American Jewelry and Loan in Detroit, showing the world what running a pawn shop is all about is a top priority. On August 16, 2010, truTV lived up to it’s catch phrase “Not Reality, Actuality” with the debut of a new reality series Hardcore Pawn that showcases the challenges of running a family owned pawnshop in an urban area.
Read more if you're interested in Hardcore Pawn like I am. Here is a small excerpt of what Les and Seth Gold had to say to the National Pawnbrokers Association:
Les and Seth feel that over time, people have become less and less clear about what pawnbrokers actually do. “People watching the show may not understand, and we want to get rid of the stigma,” said Les. “We thought this would improve people’s understanding about what we offer, and it’s important to make them understand.”
Having started the business over 40 years ago, Les points out that pawn shops have changed quite a bit over time. He opened Sam’s Loan with his grandfather in the late 50‘s. Then in 1978 he opened the first iteration of American Jewelry and Loan and has since moved 4 times, finally settling in a 50,000 square foot facility in Detroit that was once a bowling alley. Now it’s the premier facility in America. “Wait till you come visit us,” said Les. “We look even better in person.”
The pawn industry, he continued, which in the 50’s and 60’s was associated with the underbelly of society, is now an accepted way of life. Les cited the sagging economy and home foreclosures as factors that have led more and more Americans to pawn shops in recent years. His goal was to bring a clean, professional, well-lit business to Detroit. Now they are a premier facility in the united states.
But even more than that, he says, pawn shops are cool. People are really tuning into the great deals you can find.
Hardcore Pawn is the second reality TV show to break onto the scene since History Channel’s Pawn Stars. The shows will air in the same night and time, but viewers can expect something very different when they tune in. If you end up missingHardcore Pawnyou can watch the episodes online.
“We’re not antiques road show, we’re not looking back on history,” said Les. “We see around 700 people a day, and we extend 500 to 800 loans a day. This show is about real people with real items and real problems.”
“The meat and potatoes is that it’s as simple as a family run pawnshop in an urban setting and the crazy things that happen between my family, the customers, and the items they bring in,” added Seth.
Despite the buzz surrounding the truTV series, it was never Les Gold’s intention to become a reality TV star. The Gold family was initially approached by two producers during one of the giveaway events that happen regularly in their store. The producers showed up unannounced to find 500 people waiting in line around the 50,000 square foot space and immediately wanted to film an eight minute “sizzle” reel to document the scene. The producers eventually shopped the idea around to several companies and truTV decided to take up the project.
Seth feels that being in Detroit adds a unique flavor to the pawn experience. “You’re missing something, you need to come to Detroit,” he said. “It’s an experience, I’ll tell you that.” He’s very proud of the city he lives in and the community his shop serves. “Detroiters are tough as nails, but, despite the criticism, Detroiters are believers and still stick by one another. The auto industry has had a serious effect on our customer base, everyday you hear about it.”
When asked if he was also tough, Les replied, “We understand our customers, what we have to be, when we have to be easy going, and when to be tough, and I’m teaching that to my son, Seth, and hopefully that will rub off on him. But yeah I’m pretty tough at what I do.”
Seth also added that everyone at American Jewelry and Loan has a great rapport with the customers. “Detroiters want respect, and if you don’t give them respect they’re going to leave. It’s because of the people walking in the doors with their items that we have a job to come to everyday.” Having been in business for so long, the Gold family has served several generations of customers. “We have a very good reputation. They know they can come in for a fair price,” said Les. “We’re not out to take advantage of people, and because of that we’ve had generations of customers and hopefully it will continue.”
It’s hard for the Golds to put a face on the customer they said, because of the broadened clientele base they’ve seen since the recession. They meet 18 years olds who have just moved out of the house for the first time and are still adjusting to making rent payments, as well as 55 year olds and seniors who need money for the rising cost of prescription drugs.
Most people come back for their merchandise, they report. The redemption rate at their store is 85 to 90 percent.
“We are the working man’s bank,” said Les. “A working part of the economy. Most people don’t understand that.”
They also see lots of customers who know that on the retail side, pawn shops are a place to get a good deal. To that end, Seth is launching a new online project called PawnDetroit.com, designed to allow customers to get appraisal estimates of items they’d like to sell or pawn. “We’re going to allow people to take a picture of an item, we will give them an idea of what they can expect to get at a local pawn shop…to get an idea that if they go to any pawnshop in America, what they can expect to get.”
Both believe that the pawn industry will continue to grow in the years ahead, despite the fact that there hasn’t been a rise in the number of pawn shops in Detroit. Overt 80 second hand dealers have popped up in the area to circumvent the three percent state interest rate. This is a concerning trend and they believe that these business should be regulated, just like pawnshops.
They’re certainly seeing a growing interest in their business since their two test episodes aired in December. “The local response was tremendous,” admitted Seth. “Within an hour of the show airing, I received over 100 emails inquiring about services.” Les said the viewers must have loved the show, because truTV signed them for eight more episodes.
The customers, he says, are excited about the show and the Gold Family anticipates a good reaction. During the filming, they’ve seen lots of new faces from people who’ve grown curious of the show or customers taking advantage of their zero percent interest for first time customers promotion. Pawnbrokers, he claims, are also grateful to the show for focusing more on the loaning side of the business and shedding light on what they do.
The show has even helped the family improve their professional business skills.
“They film from 9:30am – 6:00pm and show the transactions as they are and the obstacles of running a 50,000 square foot facility with 45 employees,” said Seth. “The production company interviews me and asks why I went about a transaction in a certain way, and I had to really go back and examine how I do things. It makes you better at your job, you focus on the bigger picture.”
Les recounted how it took only a few days to become comfortable with cameras around. “My hair always looks good but my wrinkles always show more on HDTV,” he joked. “I felt like they could be right in front of my face and I can just be me. They aren’t changing my life, you’re just going to see me.”
Nothing on the show is scripted, Seth explained. “If you want to see an argument, just wait 5 minutes for my sister to come along and make me upset.” This is too funny!
Hardcore Pawn is on truTV. For more information and to watch full episodes, you can visit truTV.com online.