American Jewelry and Loan in Detroit’s Eight Mile area is the setting for TruTv’s reality series Hardcore Pawn. It was created by Richard Dominick, the former executive producer of both the Jerry Springer and Steve Wilkos shows. The show debuted in August, 2010.
The store was founded in 1981. It is owned by Detroit native Les Gold, who followed his father and grandfather into the pawn business. He runs the store with a business-like and no-nonsense attitude. The store’s customers are primarily low-income African-Americans.
When they say it’s “the biggest and baddest pawn shop” in all of Detroit, they’re not kidding. There are constant battles in the store between Les and his son Seth (a University of Michigan graduate) and his daughter Ashley. Ashley runs the loan and jewelry departments, while Seth runs the Internet and the sales floor. Ashley left store for a few years to get married and have kids. But then she returned.
Les is very happy with the way he runs the store and he will not change for anything. Seth wants to bring it into the 21st Century and run the store himself, but Les refuses to step aside. Take the warehouse for instance. Seth complains that the merchandise is disorganized (ex: pawns are mixed in with layaways) and that his staff has given customers the wrong merchandise. But Les is happy with the way that it is.
Ashley and Seth also fight and act like spoiled little brats, especially in front of the customers, and Les has to step in. Ashley doesn’t even like it when Seth steps in when she’s busy negotiating with a customer. Ditto for both Les and Seth.
Ashley, Seth, and Les aren’t the only ones battling it out. Customers will come into the store with merchandise to either pawn or sell. Some of it turns out to be either worthless or broken. If they don’t get what they want, they’ll scream and yell, curse, throw a hissy fit, threaten to call the police, take legal action, or even threaten the staff. And that does includes Les, Seth, and Ashley. Even after waiting in long lines, some of them will get out of line, bang on the window, and demand that they be served right there and then.
The store will not accept nor tolerate this type of behavior. Unruly and disrespectful customers are told to leave the store. The security staff will escort them out, but the offending customers still keep ranting and raving. :
Not all of their customers are out of control. There are some that are well-behaved and act like adults. If the store won’t help them, Les, Seth, Ashley, or Rich will shake their hand and thank them for coming in. Customers will also bring in merchandise to sell. Some of it’s useful and worth it. But some of it is useless junk
It’s not the store’s fault if they can’t help the customers with what they want. The store has policies such as no refunds or exchanges in place. They’re not responsible for any merchandise that leaves the store. Customers have ninety days to pick up their pawned merchandise. If not, then the store sells it.They also have to have a valid state ID or driver’s license, and be fingerprinted as well. But if they sell their items, they can’t get them back. The store also has the right not to take broken or worthless merchandise as well. Les is in business to make money. He wants merchandise that is going to sell, and that’s the bottom line.
The customers should ask questions before they decide to pawn or sell their items. If they get a loan on the item, they should ask how much the payments are. Should they pay the entire amount, pay it in monthly installments, or even the pay the interest? If they don’t know the difference between selling and pawning an item, they should find out. This way, they can avoid these confrontations. Threatening to go to the police, to do bodily harm, or any legal action is not going to solve anything. Being a wise consumer is. And they need to act more civilized; not like a bunch of spoiled little kids.
If you want to see all of the explosive drama at Detroit’s “biggest and baddest” pawn shop, tune into Hardcore Pawn on Tuesday nights at nine o’clock on TruTV.