Les Gold and his family are one of the most revered families in the pawn broker industry. Being a third generation pawn broker, Gold definitely has a strong knowledge of what he is doing and can skillfully identify who he is dealing with as hundreds of customers come in and out of the doors of American Jewelry and Loan. Gold, and his two children Ashley and Seth, have true passion for what they do, evident on their hit television series Hardcore Pawn.
“I never could imagine [doing anything else],” Gold told Joe from Pop Culture Madness. “I went to medical school as a kid, but I was in the pawn business since I was seven and it’s in my blood.”
In every episode of the series, viewers can see Gold interacting with customers and making deals while simultaneously be working hard behind the scenes, working with the employees and making sure his business is run as efficiently as possible. “I used to work before…it could be seven days a week. Now I’ve cut down to six days. In Michigan, there’s a state law where you have to be closed, other than that I’d be working seven days.”
Viewers can also detect the difficulties Gold has with working with his two children, who will inherit the business from Les when the time comes. Seth and Ashley, though they have a strong sibling rivalry and often disagree with each other, genuinely and deeply care about the business, as well as their customers. As they get older, they both seem to grasp that the business is more than making money, it’s about helping people out.
“They might not have gotten it when they were younger, but now as they’re older, they understand the operational concern that we have for our customers,” Gold stated. “We try to give our pawn customers as much money as we possibly can to allow them to pick up their merchandise without giving them too much so they can never get it again. And the same thing goes for the retail customer, that we want them to understand that it’s a great value when you come to a pawn shop.”
And both pawn customers and retail customers alike come into American Jewelry and Loan. While the customers just doing some casual shopping can come and go as they please, those pawning items or retrieving their pawned items need to wait. “We have two lines, and one of the lines is for pawning your merchandise and the other line is for redeeming your merchandise, or taking it out of pawn,” Les explained. “We have the best economic barometer that there is because when the loan line is short, and the pick up line is long, people have money. In the revers, when the loan line is long…people are in desperate need of money.”
And Gold’s stance on the economy as it currently stands? “The economy is coming back.”
Dealing with the various customers that come in with not only items, but stories and tales meant to get Gold and his employees a tad emotional, has made Gold wary about being too trusting with his customers. “As a pawn broker, you have to leave your emotions out. When you bring your emotions into a negotiating situation…you’re going to pay more money.”
But that doesn’t mean that the employees can get to be rude towards the customers. “We treat people with respect, decency, and we’re really concerned about their needs,” Gold stated. Both he and his employees know they are in a business to help people, and that is what they have set out to do. “What we are is their bank…we are their last resort of obtaining money. You’re not going to go into a bank and get twenty dollars for gas. But you’re going to bring in a Play Station, and get a loan on that just temporarily until you come and get it.”
The series has done more than just increase business for the Gold family, but has shed light on an industry that was once looked down on. “Because of the show, what you realize now is there are great values when you go to the pawn shop. It’s not the seedy, dark business it used to be,” Gold said. “It’s now cool to come to the pawn shop…it’s changed the dynamics of pawn brokers all over the world.”
The customers and the interesting items they bring in are just one draw to the series. The other major appeal is the relationship between Gold and his two children. They have a family dynamic between them is one that is both familiar for many audience and shows a real, family bond that withstands all the drama the business brings on. And viewers can tell Les really wants his kids to succeed with the business. “One thing I try to teach my children is I want you to make a mistake, because you’ll never learn to fix a mistake unless you make it. Unless you make a mistake, you’re never going to know how to handle yourself.”
Just as Gold makes sure his children, and his employees, work hard and strive to better the business a bit every day, he also makes sure he knows how he truly values his staff. “Every Tuesday…always for the new show, I take my employees to a restaurant and we go to dinner and watch Hardcore Pawn.”
When Gold’s at home on that Sunday, or finds a rare moment of well deserved rest, he enjoys watching a little of Tru Tv’s other programming. “For sure, I watch everything on Tru Tv. No question,” he admitted with a laugh.
Gold definitely has a love and passion for what he does, and he has definitely instilled that passion into his kids and employees so that they can run the business once he goes. Though, Les Gold isn’t planning on leaving anytime soon. “I can imagine myself dead,” he said when asked if he had any plans to retire. “That’s the only way I’m leaving here.”
|Listen to Joe’s interview with Les Gold Here!|
For More Interviews visit PopCultureMadness.com!
Season 6 of Hardcore Pawn Premieres Tuesday, July 10 at 9 PM ET on truTV