Yigal Adato: 00:03 Hey everyone, my name is Yigal Adato and this is the Pawn Leaders Podcast, a podcast to help you make more money, stress less, and live an epic life, all while working at the pawnshop. Ladies and gentlemen, pawnbrokers. Welcome back to another episode of Pawn Leaders Podcast. With me today, I have a special man. Tim Collier and managing partner of Pacer Limited. He founded the pawnshop in 1990 after a 10 year career in retail jewelry with Gordon's jeweler's and several independent jewelers. He is the president of the Arkansas Brokers Association, past GRC chair of the national pawnbrokers association, and the current president of the NPA or the national pawnbrokers association, Tim and his wife Lisa have been married for 33 years, have three sons, walker and twins, Garrett and Griffin. Tim, welcome to the show.
Tim Collier: 01:01 Thanks Yigal. I really appreciate you having me on and given me the opportunity.
Yigal Adato: 01:05 No, it's thank you for being on, as a president of the NPA, I'm
sure you're busy now with your own business and the association, so thanks for taking the time out
Tim Collier: 01:15 You bet, Today was bill day so I've been paying bills all day. So I needed a break.
Yigal Adato: 01:18 Oh, there you go. So this is great. So this is fun for you?
Tim Collier: 01:23 Absolutely.
Yigal Adato: 01:23 Nice. So, I do want to ask one question. I have a two year and a half year old daughter. She's a handful. How did you guys do it with twins?
Tim Collier: 01:31 You'd think it'd be twice the problem, but really it wasn't that bad. When you double team a little bit, you gotta make formula, you gotta change diapers, you just do it,. It's not nearly as bad as you'd think it'd be
Yigal Adato: 01:46 Nice. Nice. So, tell us 10 years in the pawn industry, many more in the jewelry industry. What made you start Pacer and give us some history about your career in the pawnshops.
Tim Collier: 01:58 Okay. So, I started out in junior high school working in a jewelry store. I was engraving plaques and trophies for a friend of our family's jewelry store, had an independent jewelry store and did that part time working my way through high school and then went to college, got a part time job while I was in college working at a jewelry store because that's all I knew. and then got out of college and didn't want to push a pencil. My major was business and economics with an emphasis in accounting and didn't see myself being an accountant. So, went to work at Gordon's jeweler's and did some management training programs with them and got my own store and then an independent hired me away and I manage her store. And then another independent reached out to me and said, hey, I got this idea for a jewelry only pawnshop that would specialize in fine jewelry and he had a jewelry business and was terested in doing it. But say if you'll run it, I'll provide the seed money to get it started and we'll see if we can make a go of it. So, like anything you take a chance and hope it works and 27 years ago, we opened in 1990 and we're still going strong. So, found a little niche and little rock, it's half a million population and we just do our own little thing and an office building and do it by appointment and haven't really branched out and done anything other than just jewelry. Don't have a retail pawnshop, don't have a store front, just wholesale everything that's not redeemed, whether it's refined the gold or sell the diamonds or whatever with my partner has still has retail jewelry store and he does manufacturing, so he uses a lot of the forfeited items that we get and we either sell them as vintage pieces or melt them and make something new out of them. So, it's been a good partnership between he and I and I've learned a lot from him. He's learned a lot from me. I'm still trying to get him out of that retail mentality. You know, when a bond customer comes in and they bring a piece of jewelry and the first thing he's thinking is, wow, how can I get this piece of jewelry and how to short the customer when I'm telling him, the more you take it in on pawn for the more you're going to make in fees and you're going to have a happy customer. So, I'm still working on him on that 27th year later, but maybe some day we'll get it all figured out.
Yigal Adato: 04:47 I think it's smart when my brother and I were doing business, we always lend a lot more because we know that the bigger the loan balance, the more recurring income, the happier the client's we can beat out the competition. So, smart of you and hopefully it'll work after 28th year, maybe.
Tim Collier: 05:01 I hopefully so.
Yigal Adato: 05:01 Maybe when he listened to the podcast, you'll make him listen to this and I don't know what his name is, but start lending more right?
Tim Collier: 05:08 Exactly.
Yigal Adato: 05:10 So, what made you guys, was it his idea that you want to do a very niche only jewelry, just a little office for?
Tim Collier: 05:17 A It was his idea, but he takes credit for it, but he will also tell you that he did not hatch the idea himself. We actually got the idea from a friend of his who served on a board with him. We have a Levi arthritis hospital and hot springs and he served on the board of directors with a little Jewish man from Memphis in the jewelry business. My partners Jewish. and so his brand was, back in the day was Elvis's jeweler, actually vaguely summaries, some jewelry and made the original engagement ring for Elvis and his retired, his son didn't really like the jewelry business, didn't like the retail grind. And so he ended up opening up a jewelry only pawnshop in the Mit Greater Memphis area. And so he, every time he would come down from his dad would come down for a board meeting, my partner would ask him, so how's Ronnie, how's the business? And how he just doing great, loving it. And so that's how he kind of got the idea and we actually went to Memphis and spent a week with him looking at his operation. He shared everything with us and said, just don't come across the Mississippi River and the [Incomprehensible] in Arkansas. You guys can do whatever you want to do. So he was
very gracious to help us with the concept, obviously we changed some things and did some things a little differently than the way he was doing it. He had some showcases and was selling jewelry. I've always found that whether I was in retail jewelry or whether I was in pawn, it was very awkward for me to tell a customer on one hand your ring is worth $200. And yet on the other hand they come back and that same ring is out in the showcase and it's marked at 799 or whatever the price might be. Though we avoid that by not doing any retail. And you know, I mean I use some of my resources to custom make jewelry for people when they want something for a gift, you know we'll manufacture something new or sell an item to someone that's used and refurbish it, but it just keeps you on the up and up with the customer so they understand the difference between wholesale and retail.
Yigal Adato: 07:50 So, let's talk about that a little bit. In my pawnshop, we had a big retail sales was very, very important. It paid 40 percent of the bills at one time and when you're running on pawn, and I mean in California we had a very, very low interest rate. We still have a very low industry our margins were made from the sale is, that's some of the best bread and butter, that was great. So, how's business today with the way the gold price is kind of, it's not fluctuating as much as it used to. Gold is going up. Is it more stable? Is the same as before? What's going on with your business these days?
Tim Collier: 08:31 As far as my business and then the people I've talked to as well being affiliated with the NPA as well as with the Arkansas Pawnbrokers Association. I have the opportunity to visit with pawnbrokers not only here in Arkansas but across the country and I think it's changes from different regions, but as far as from what I can gather and talking with pawnbrokers across the country, and in Arkansas, the dynamic has changed a little bit, with low unemployment rate, like it is across the country. Anyone who wants a job has got a job. If you don't have a job then you're not either, you don't want a job or you're not looking hard enough for a job or you don't want to lower your sights and go to work for a lower wage because there are jobs out there for everyone. With that being said, if you've got a job and you've got an income, a steady income and you don't have unexpected expenses and you know what I'm talking about there. I mean, that's where a lot of our business comes from is when most people in today's climate don't have the means to be able to save and have a savings account, so they live pretty much paycheck to paycheck as long as you have a job and you're making ample amount of money and you're able to pay your bills, you're doing okay. But it's the unexpected expenses that come up that create an issue where you have to a pawn something so that's created assist situation where with everybody working, And not needing as much on our pawn balances are actually down, we've got long time customer so we don't see as often as we did before because they're doing better, which is a good thing. I'm not saying that it's just you want to be here and then you don't see somebody for a two or three years and they come back and they say, Gosh, I'm sure glad you're still here. So, but yeah, the ad say because of the combination of the prices of gold dropping back down into a manageable number of 12, 1300 as opposed to the 18, 1900 we saw and, And not as nearly as, as much melly diamond out there because there was so much gold sold when the price spiked up. You're seeing that your receivables have dropped anywhere from 20 to 30 percent. So, pawnbrokers are looking for other avenues to try to generate more revenue, whether it be getting into luxury items, handbags, things of that nature or whether or not they do more concentration on their online sales, whether be Ebay or Facebook whatever the Facebook-
Yigal Adato: 11:16 Marketplace.
Tim Collier: 11:16 -marketplace is or anything like that to be able to subsidize a part of the missing revenue from your pawn revenues.
Yigal Adato: 11:26 So, going back to my history in pawn, we had a 7,000 square foot store full of electronics and cockroaches sometimes we had tons of employees, big overhead. Talk to me a little bit about the benefit of doing what you do, doing just small office jewelry. I'm going to guess you like nine to five, call me with an appointment. There's got to be some freedom in that. Tim Collier: 11:54 There is. If there weren't, I wouldn't be able to devote and dedicate the amount of time that I do to the industry through volunteer, working with the state and the National Association. Obviously if you're running a business properly, just because you say you try to work by appointment, you've got to really be here pretty much all the time because you sure don't want to lose out on a customer that walks in and brings a carat diamond or two carat diamond or a rolex and you're not there because you're out traveling somewhere and they didn't have an appointment. And so, if I'm not here, my partner comes in and covers for me. So I just, again, it's a good partnership that we have were as long as he knows I'm going to be out of town. He keeps his calendar fairly open and he covers for me. And so to not to skirt question, but I'll talk about the downside first, and that is because it's so specialized and because so many folks in the pawn industry and I would say the majority don't have the GIA training to be able to look at a diamond to determine whether it's been fractured, filled, you're treated a laser treated, whatever or rolex to determine whether or not it's got a Japanese movement in it or if it's all authentic. You've got to know a little bit about everything. And so it's very difficult. And we actually had a second location that was open for about 12 years and closed it down because you can't duplicate yourself as you go, it's you doing your thing and then you can try and train other people to a certain extent. But this particular business being that it's jewelry only, jewelry has a sentimental attachment and value to a lot of our customers. And so you've almost got to sell yourself as opposed to selling the pawn so that they feel comfortable in leaving their belongings with you, knowing that they're going to get the same things back that they left and not have to worry about their treasures while they're in your possession. So, that's it in a nutshell, that is kind of makes it a little bit more unique. We do have a small office, so we do have low overhead. So, but we do a lot of advertising because we are unique. We don't keep anything on premises. We utilize safe deposit boxes. So, therefore we've got the expanse of insurance to cover all of the merchandise while they're in transit or back and forth. And then the safe deposit boxes and we just do things a little bit differently so that when a customer walks in and I don't, I hate to say this, but you know, a lot of times I'll have a young lady walk in and bring a piece of jewelry and she'll say, wow, I would never take it to a pawn shop.
Yigal Adato: 15:08 Welcome to the pawnshop
Tim Collier: 15:08 Well, welcome to my pawnshop. But you know, women have all the jewelry as you now. I mean, either they got it for themselves or it was bought for them. Ninety percent of what I see is female jewelry, whether they bring it in or whether they're husband brings it the. Because most guys have got might be a watching and a wedding band. And so you've got, it's got to lend itself to where that demographic feels comfortable in bringing things in. And let's face it, up until, the last 10 or 15 years, the typical pawnshop has not lent itself to being very open and welcoming to a young lady to walk in. You've got the guns and the bars on the windows and the stereos and the tools and the lawn mowers and so many women just, we had a pawnshop close here recently here in the greater little rock area. And he said we just couldn't make it work. We were trying to do a lot of upper end pieces and at a doctor's wife, he sent her by to come look at a piece and she saw the sign that said pawn and she didn't even get out of the car. She just drove off and left. And I called him and he said I couldn't get her to go in.So there's a stigma that obviously, we are still working hard every minute of every day to overcome because of the negative connotation through the movies and all those sorts of things that we've had to deal with them.
Yigal Adato: 16:41 At one time we were called CashCo jewelry and loan because of that bad stigma and then what we do is we spent a ton of money on PR, I mean we were on every single news station in every single magazine, every single newspaper in the city to be able to help the word that pawn isn't a negative word and obviously with Pawn Stars that came out at hardcore pawn, it was kind of cool to visit a pawn shop that those guys helped when it came to a good name for the industry when it came to pawn. But I totally understand what you mean. A lot of people they'll text me, hey, do you guys have bikes? And like 40 of them, what would you like? Just come in and they don't come in. So, what have you found that works in your advertising and your marketing? Obviously you're kind of under the radar as a pawnshop, but what do you think that other pawn shops can do with your experience as a president of associations to break the stigma?
Tim Collier: 17:41 You know, I think the main thing, and it's so basic and simple and it's things that you hear a lot of the guys that do the seminars when you go to the state shows or the regional shows where in NPA, they talk about the same things, but it's so important. First appearance is so important. If you're not, when you walk in your door every morning, if you're not blaming the area and picking up trash or having somebody do that and you're doing a disservice to your business. It's got to be presentable and you've got to put your best foot forward no matter what business you're in, but specifically the pawn business because a number of your customers may have never set foot in a pawnshop before and you want that experience for them to be a good one. And in order for it to be a good one, they've got to feel comfortable. So, it's got to be welcoming, you hate to do the old Walmart or waffle house morning every time somebody walks in, but it's important to make the customers feel comfortable when they come in and have everything clean and organized to where they can kind of feel their way around and don't feel threatened or intimidated by the surroundings. So, I think more than anything is really important when you're talking about, because a pawn shop is nothing more than a retail store that sells money. We sell money, but we also, we're a retail store and of course, forgetting about my personal situation, talking about general pawn now, but it's a retail store, so it needs to look like a retail store. And I think as time evolves and the years go by, you're going to see more and more of the showcasing and bright lights and neon signage and the things that you see from all of the big box stores. And you're already seeing it. But I think it needs to trickle down to all of the pawn shops, so that image shared.
Tim Collier: 20:05 Just a quick story. I went to lunch at a famous restaurant here in San Diego and it's run by a group called the Koan group. They have like 15 restaurants, just huge, big business, some of the best top restaurants in San Diego. And I was outside in the parking lot and there was a lady probably like 80 years old picking up cigarette butts from the parking lot. And so I saw one of the employees and I said, hey, I think you guys should check your and make sure she's okay, picking up cigarette butts from the parking lot. And the guy was a busboy and he turns to me. He goes, that's Mrs Cohen. I'm like the Mrs Cohen? Like Grandma Cohen? he said, yeah she's the owner of all these restaurants, so it shouldn't be beneath us pawnbrokers to pick up some garbage, clean the store when we need to because it's our image, It's who we are.
Tim Collier: 21:01 That's a great story, that's a great story.
Yigal Adato: 21:02 You reminded me of it. So thank you so much. And Tim I want to go into something. What's been the hardest thing for you when it comes to the industry? Just a moment in your life where you're like, I gotta get out. This is too much for me. Or is this really what I want?
Tim Collier: 21:22 You know, I don't know that I ever really had a situation where I really did some soul searching and said, is this really what I want to do? But I have a ongoing struggle a day by day in dealing with pawn customers who are in need and they just don't have the resources to be able to get the amount of money that they need. You want to help everybody and you try to help everybody as much as you can, but I had to learn the hard way that no is a complete sentence. Obviously, you try not to ask how's it going because they'll tell you and then you won't have time to even look at the merchandise that's you're dealing with, they're going to tell you about all their problems, but you want to find out how much do you need and invariably everybody needs more obviously than what you can give them. But you try to come up with a happy medium and then on the other end, when the time comes and the foreclosure list gets a worked a couple of weeks and then it gets to my desk and you look at the names and you look at the file and you look at the jewelry and you know how much that means to them and how long they've been a customer. And you just have to suck it up and do whatever you can. And of course this is something that Gordon's jeweler's taught me years and years ago. Collect the account and save the customer. Whatever you have to do, if you've got to give them a little more time or if you've got to knock a month off or whatever, to try to help him out of a tough jam, trust me, it will come back on you 10 fold by helping your customers get by in a slow time or a bad time. And that I won't forget it. So, that's been the hardest thing for me.
Yigal Adato: 23:27 And it costs more money to get a new client as opposed to retain the client. Absolutely. I think that's what people don't realize when you have a customer who walked into your store who doesn't care about the pawn stigma, pawn something, bought something from you. You want to nourish them, you want to create that culture. You want to create that environment where if I'm a Pacer customer, I love it. Like it's okay, there's nothing wrong with it. And I know that Tim is going to take care of me. So, I think like if you bought up 2 great things, one for the pawnshops out there who are listening, clean your stores, right? Make sure that you have a good clean image. For us, I remember we would put film on the showcases and every three months we take the film off. So they were all scratched up. Every morning the manager walked and do a walk through of the outside of the store to make sure that there wasn't any garbage. So I love what you said, clean your store and to nourish your client, nourish your customer, make sure that you keep them. I love it. Let's move on Tim to someday I wanted to talk to you about what are the reasons why I love the fact that you're on here. Being the president of the National Pawn Brokers Association. I was the keynote speaker this year and I had a great times, great crowd. Tell us what's to come, tell us what the NPA is doing, what benefits it gives brokers if they're not listening, excuse me. If they're listening and they're not a member of the NPA,
Tim Collier: 24:53 Sure. Well it Kinda, the idea kind of dovetails back to what we were just talking about as far as what you can do to put your best foot forward, besides just a clean store, whether or not you feel like you can afford to join the National Pawnbrokers Association and the dues structure as it is or whether, you are affiliated with a state ssociation. It's so important in that from a branding standpoint. If you've got that we provide a little door stickers, window stickers to all of our state association members, just like the NPA does, that has the NPA logo that you can proudly display on your front door of your store, your front window. It means something to so many people. When you're affiliated with an association, it shows that you're committed to doing things the right way and that you're interested in a good feedback. I read a story today about the big baller brand and how they have an F rating with the better business bureau because of all the complaints and everything that they've gotten, and the father made the comment that he didn't even know that the BBB existed anymore. BBB now stands for big baller brand. But I don't think that's the right attitude to have. I think anything you can do and of course we'd love to have all of the pawnshops across the country support the association because the association supports all the pawnshops across the country regardless of whether they realize it or not, through our outreach and through our community service that pawnbrokers do that are members of the National Association and the work that the NPA does in Washington with our meetings with members, meetings with agencies that are constantly trying to create more burden and more red tape for small businesses. Which most shops are small businesses. Let's face it, even though you may have multiple stores if you boil it down we're all still small businesses and we want less regulation instead of more regulation. So, we're constantly working to try to alleviate some of that burden on the small shops and so it's an ongoing challenge as an association, whether you're talking about a estate association. I saw you out in San Diego with CAP show was a great show and really enjoyed visiting with a lot of the pawnbrokers out there, learned a lot and or smaller states like Arkansas or Missouri or wherever, there are not state associations affiliated with probably 20 states. They don't even have a state association. So, we're always encouraging pawnbrokers to get involved. You don't have a state association. Reach out to the NPA. We're happy to help in getting that organized. We're working right now with New Mexico. They're having issues in albuquerque and we're helping them with city council out there and getting them backs and the information about all of the negative things that are our fault about pawn and stolen property. You know, it's, I'm sure you've heard it a million times. You meet somebody and they say, Oh, you're in the business. Hey, I had this stolen from me. How can I find out? You know, that's the stigma that even though we know that less than one percent of merchandise that we report to law enforcement even turns out to be stolen. So, those are all things that we work hard to try and overcome. I guess I'm talking all around your question, but as far as the NPA goes, we're working really, really hard right now to find some new revenue streams, some new benefits that we can offer as an association that will pay for themselves and actually make you want to join the association because it's going to save you money as opposed to costing you money. And in turn by things like that we will be able to take some of the cost burden away from attendance to regional shows and the national pawn expo to where it's not so expensive to bring multiple people to the show and the vendors don't have to support the industry through a huge sponsorships and things of that nature. If it had gotten to the point to where it become a revenue stream and we had to rely on that revenue stream and we're trying to move away from that as an association so that we can offer things to the average pawnbroker at a minimal cost and try to bring some of those costs down that had been escalating over time. So, that we can get more participation from some of the smaller shops. And at the same time create an excitement around pawn expo and the regional shows by allowing you the opportunity to visit with pawnbrokers that have been in the business for years and years and years. Like your brother and your father have been share some of that knowledge with some of the newbies that are been only been in the business 10 years, people that are still learning and thirsty for knowledge and information about the pawn industry. And you know as well as I do, pawnbrokers are very caring people and sharing people and they're willing to open up their information and share that information about how the business is run and what they can do. They're not secretive like it was back when I was in the retail jewelry business and you couldn't get a jeweler down the street. I even answer your phone call because it was so competitive.
Yigal Adato: 31:38 For me, we've got a couple of minutes. But for me the most important thing about going to these shows was I learned so much from the conversations, just dinners, lunches, breakfasts with the pawnbrokers, what they were doing in different states, what they were doing in different places. I learned so much and because of that I grew, because of that my business succeeded, so my recommendation to any pawnbroker out there who's listening to the podcast is become a member of your state association and the NPA. I think it's super important to support both causes and Tim, I want to thank you so much for being on the show. It's been a pleasure and an honor.
Tim Collier: 32:17 I can't tell you how much I appreciate you asking me hopefully we did okay, and you'll have me on again
Yigal Adato: 32:22 Yeah and I'll see you out in little rock hopefully. Right?
Tim Collier: 32:26 Absolutely. Looking forward to it.
Yigal Adato: 32:29 Give them some information about that conference that you're putting on. What's the website?
Tim Collier: 32:33 Yep. It's dixieconvention.com We have a four state show, Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi to show rotates to different locations. This year we're hosting it in Little Rock, Arkansas for the first time, downtown at the Marriott and the river market district. We're going to have a pawn tour, I stole that idea from when I was at kappa show, so we're going to do a pawn tour and take a trip over to Oakland Park and watch a few thoroughbred horse races the day before the show starts. So, that'll be a fun add-on that we haven't had before. And then we have usually about 50 vendors that come in, a couple of hundred pawnbrokers. It's one of the, even though I'm an actively involved with it, I'm proud to say it's one of the better run, a regional shows. It's not perfect. We don't have data and the staff doing it. So we're constantly working through bugs and problems because it's a pawn convention run by pawnbrokers.We don't have anybody on staff to do that, so we all share the load, but it's a lot of good people from the south and good southern hospitality. So, if you've not been to the Dixie show talk to somebody and see if you can reach out to somebody that has, they'll tell you. We have a lot of fun. And we learned lot in the process and we're excited about you coming in and being a part of that in April.
Yigal Adato: 34:09 I'm excited to little rock. I've never been, so I'm excited to speak. Thank you so much everybody for listening. Thank you so much for listening to the show. Tim. Once again, thank you very, very much. If you want to continue the conversation, remember on Facebook you can go to the Pawn Leaders Community Podcast. I should say that again. It's the Pawn Leaders Podcast Community. And thanks again for listening. It's been a pleasure.If you want to find out more about the Pawn Leaders, a group of likeminded pawnbrokers who want to take that business and their lives to the next level go to the pawnleaders.com. Tim, have an incredible day. Thank you once again.
Tony Gallo specializes in security and loss prevention for higher risk businesses. He has more than 30 years’ experience in the security, audit, safety and emergency management field. Tony has a Bachelor of Security degree in Criminal Justice from New Jersey City University. He is a licensed security consultant and a published author. In this interview, Tony shares tips on protecting yourself and your assets.
[01:16] Tony has been in the pawn industry for over 20 years. He started working with a company called EZCORP (a pawn shop trade), where he was Director of Risk Management, Security, Audit and Emergency Procedures.
[03:46] Many pawnbrokers think that their security will not be compromised.
[04:17] “My goal is to prevent a robbery from happening.”
[05:34] “Sometimes, the cost of being proactive is way less than having to be reactive.”
[06:41] There are proven procedures that can reduce your exposure to shoplifters.
[10:21] It is recommended to put peepholes in the back door of your pawn store to have a wide view of the area without having to open the door.
[12:29] “The biggest mistake that pawn brokers make is called misplaced trust. You are putting trust into employees in your store and there’s no checks and balances.”
[14:06] Lack of good customer service is a loophole for a shoplifter. This breakdown is a catalyst for robbers to approach your business.
[15:23] Not sending the proper message can encourage shoplifting.
[18:00] “How do you communicate to your employees? What is expected of your employees?”
[18:36] Put written procedures in place that protect both you and your employees.
[19:15] Pawnbrokers are exposed to all the assets and are not sensitized about how to properly guard their property. Day-to-day operations can cause you to forget that people are watching your every move.
[22:02] You must be diligent with your security when running your business, as the level of violence has drastically increased.
[22:46] Reduce the level of violence by preventing it from occurring, instead of waiting to address it as it occurs. [24:48] “At the end of the day, my goal is for you to go home and have dinner with your family.” [25:29] You have to think of the advantage of letting a ‘transaction go’ in order to protect your life. [27:07] There are online training courses available that teach employees how to act during a robbery situation. [29:15] ”We want you to stay in business, we want you to grow. We want you to be profitable and we want you to go home.” [29:25] Check out www.sapphirerisk.com for more information and feel free to call 214-845-6838. There is also a contact on the webpage as well. Send questions and you will get a response.