Mike Reed joined his families’ business, Gold-N-Pawn, as a minority owner in 2004. His father started the business in 1997 and now has two locations. The original shop is in Garner. Their Clayton shop is located at 10278 U.S. 70 Business.
Q: What is it that you like about working at the pawn shop?
Like Forrest Gump says, “It’s like a box of chocolates.” In this case you never know who or what is going to walk through the door. We’ve definitely had some interesting things come through that door. Not necessarily like they get on TV out in Vegas, but some interesting things.
Q: What kind of things?
Some things I won’t talk about that are too interesting, but my interests are firearms, computers, technology, big screen TVs and the like. My friends think I’m rich because I have lots of new technology, but that’s not necessarily true. It’s because we get them in here. My customers may be selling that stuff because they’ve gotten newer stuff. That’s what typically happens after Christmas. People will get new stuff and recycle their older stuff.
Q: Do more people try to sell or pawn items?
I would say it’s about 70 percent loan and 30 percent buy. Craig’s List has definitely put a ding in our buying of merchandise. But some people get frustrated with all the con-artists and people just wanting to kick the tires and they’ll wind up bringing stuff in.
Q: For some people pawn shops have a negative stereotype. Does that bother you?
Yes. I don’t agree with the stereotype. The pawn business unfortunately has a negative stigma in most communities, but the positive things we do in most communities is that we offer a place for people to come not only to get loans that they wouldn’t be able to get from a bank with that type of collateral. But most of the times it’s people on a fixed income, elderly people that get sick or have something else happen that they need extra money here and there and we can help them with that. That is something I think is good for the community.
Another thing we do for the community is assist law enforcement. Yes, we have our share of thieves who come in here and sell stolen goods, but if they didn’t sell it to us the police wouldn’t know where it was and the rightful owner wouldn’t get it back.
Unfortunately we lose a lot of money because of stolen property. People think we’re a haven for thieves, but no, we help catch thieves. At least the ignorant ones, which I think most of them are. We have to provide the police with a daily report of the business we have done. It’s a community service.
Q: Every day you let the police know what you have received?
We have to. It’s a state law that we take very seriously. We report every transaction whether it’s a loan or a buy. Anything we buy we hold for seven days so that the police have time to scan our reports.
Q: So if something is stolen are you just out the money you gave the criminal?
Most of the time. If the thief doesn’t have the money we aren’t reimbursed. And of course they’re stealing because they don’t have money.
Q: Has there ever been an opportunity to get some of your money back?
Sure. The police report would list us as a victim as well. Whenever the criminal is charged the district attorney places us on the docket as well as being a witness to crime. Most of the time we get pennies on the dollar of what we’ve paid out.
Q: Do you have to testify in trials?
Sometimes we do. We are just a witness to obtaining property under false pretenses.
Q: Are their scams that you’ve fallen victim to as a pawn shop owner?
Some of the rental companies don’t put any identifying marks on their televisions. We’ve had people rent a 60” TV from a rental company and then come over here and pawn it. The rental company doesn’t know there is a problem until the person defaults on the payment. Then the police come here to get the TV and we’re out the money. That’s just part of the industry.
Q: I would assume though, that the majority of people that come in here are law abiding citizens.
Yes, of course. We have a good relationship with law enforcement departments when we fall within their jurisdiction here.
People lose site of the good things we provide.
Q: What are parts of the industry that you like?
We get to meet good people. Real people. My opinion is that most of the time the government just pays lip service to the working man, but we actually interact with the working man. Gas prices, or whatever the problem may be, they’re living pay check to pay check or are on a fixed income. When something happens out of the ordinary, they’re struggling. They need X amount of money and we’re plugging a hole because the bank isn’t going to loan them that money.
We develop a rapport with our customers and get to know people. We hear about what is going on in their lives.
Q: Since 2008 when the recession really hit have you seen an increase in people coming into your shop?
Honestly we pretty much plateaued. The economy has been in a recession for so long that people don’t have much to sell or loan anymore. We may have seen a bit of an increase just lately that the economy might be picking up.
Q: Does that mean that people are bringing you more things or buying more things?
A little bit of both. We’re seeing slightly nicer things come in. Christmas wasn’t too bad.
Q: What is your most popular item?
DVD’s. We buy and sell more of those than any other item. It’s the price point. Firearms as of late have been very good for us. Since the Connecticut shooting it’s been crazy.
Q: What kind of items sit on the shelf?
We can hold on to jewelry for years. Assault rifles have been flying off the shelves. We’re getting about four or five calls a day at each location asking if we have assault rifles. People are afraid the government will ban assault rifles and their magazines. We have to do background checks on everyone through the FBI. Before, you made the call, and got your answer. I have to wait 45 minutes now for someone to help me. It’s crazy.
Correspondent Holly Lock