I'm excited to present a post from one of my favorite sites, ShelterPop!
Who knew that a pawn broker could be so glamorous? We chat with Lauren Kaminsky, the 22-year-old vice president and head of sales at the EZ Pawn Corporation, a family-run business based in New York. Her latest project piqued our interest: Curator at Manhattan's Beauty & Essex lounge/restaurant, one of our favorite hangouts. The drinking-and-dining area is actually hidden behind a pawn shop...and that's where Lauren comes in. Here's a glimpse into her day-to-day life.
So, you are not what comes to mind when we think of a pawn broker. Why are you in the biz?
I just started! In fact, I'm just about a year in. This will sound funny because it's a family business...but I shied away from going into the business! But then I worked with my dad for the Summer and discovered I loved it. There were facets to the job [of working in the pawn industry] that I never realized. Like how to choose jewelry, watching interest rates change and then the whole treasure hunt aspect.
Where does your inventory come from?
A little bit of a mix of people pawning and then me going out into the world and finding amazing pieces at dealers, estate sales, vintage places, and other pawns.
Here's a little bit about the business-side of being a pawn broker: To come to a pawn broker as a client is to get a loan based on a collateral security. We keep in touch and they generally come back for it. In fact, we have 90% redemption rate from our pawn clients. Then, there's the 10% of the time that they can't pick up the item or can't pay. The loan defaults and then a decision is made on whether to resell the item.
You mention going out in the world to find a good chunk of your inventory on the secondhand market in a bunch of places. Where's the best place to find treasure?
Going to the pawns, because you really get down and dirty with jewelry. And I mean down and dirty: I'm literally digging through packages that haven't been opened in months. My hands get incredibly filthy from this! Then, I decide whether the piece should be melted down, or if it is a good candidate for resale. It's a complete treasure-hunt in every sense.
How do you know whether to resell a piece or to melt it down?
It's all about how it looks. I have an eye for something that looks different. I often also take a look at a piece with diamond appraisers to determine value.
What's a top seller in your shop?
Top trend is definitely rings. Also, necklaces that have "stand out" appeal. We had a great piece that I called the "Cleopatra necklace." It was a collar-style necklace with this amazing Egyptian geometry motif.
How do you price your items?
It comes from a mixture of style and the current price for gold and diamonds. I really put the emphasis on pricing items according to the gold and diamond prices, though...and often, the main criticism is that my prices in the store are too low [for how stylish the pieces are].
So going back to how often you spend time finding great pieces for the shop: What have you learned about shopping and finding that diamond (literal or figurative) in the rough?
Really, it's to trust your eye--if you pick it up, it means it caught your eye and it spoke to you in some way. The next step is to know about diamonds (read about the market beforehand for the typical price, diamond prices are set). Then, weigh the gold; ask if its 14k, 22k.
Intrigued? Read the rest of the post on ShelterPop!
Here are a few more of our favorite ShelterPop posts this week: