The housing market bubble was about to burst, said Seth Gold, vice president of American Jewelry and Loan and star of the TruTV series "Hardcore Pawn".
Construction companies were getting rid of their tools.
In a way, inventory at the pawn shop was a bit of an economic barometer.
This year's holiday sales at the 50,000-square-foot pawn shop on Greenfield Road say something different, according to Gold
Throughout December, especially in the days leading up to Christmas, Gold
said the shop saw really strong retail business this year.
The shop saw sales go "5 to 10 percent up as far as retail goes," Gold
Loan balances leveled out, too, he
And while pawn shops might not seem like the ideal place to do holiday shopping, for some they might carry a stigma, Gold
said American Jewelry
and Loan has a place in the Detroit community.
father, Les, have hundreds of returning customers, people they see twice a month, once to pawn an item and again to come back and get it.
Some people don't have access to banks, Gold
walked through rows and rows of pawned flat screen televisions (there are about 6,000 in the Detroit store, all told) while explaining how the business works -- how it's not quite as predatory as some think.
"People think around 10 to 20 percent (of people) come back" to pick up their pawned items, Gold
In reality, between 80 and 90 percent of customers come back to get whatever they pawned.
The rest often come by to at least pay the interest on their items until they can pay to get it back.
Michigan has some of the lowest interest rates for pawn shops in the country, Gold
Customers pay 3 percent interest, plus a dollar a month storage fee on pawned items at American Jewelry
And since it's often hard for Gold
to make money on an item someone fails to pay off, he
best to help someone get their belongings back.
If someone fails to pay on a loan, Gold
then has to store the item and pay someone to sell it.
"You have to really want to lose your stuff" for it to end up on the showroom floor if it had been pawned," Gold
For some, the pawn shop acts as a cheap storage facility.
said customers will pawn expensive fur coats for the summer for as low as $1, pay the interest and storage fees for the warm months, and take the coat out once the cold weather hits.
It's cheap, safe, reliable storage, Gold
said, and he
has no problem with the shop offering that to people.
Others store motorcycles in the shop.
"My customers are resourceful," he
And we "service that customer so they can come back."
Though the TV show might seem high-drama, it's all true, Gold
said, and it's really meant to focus on the interactions with customers.
The Gold family has a strong relationship with the city.
They've owned pawn shops in Metro Detroit for generations, including the shop that once sat where the popular Corktown restaurant Gold Cash Gold now stands.
The TV show has propelled the Greenfield location's already strong ties to the Detroit community, Gold
"It nationally exposed people to what pawn shops really do," he
Bags from Louis Vuitton and other fashion labels sell for high prices at the shop, which Gold
never would have guessed.
The shop does between 500 and 700 transactions a day, Gold
The next big indicator of how Detroiters are doing?
When tax returns are issued, Gold