My Summer Job as a Pawnbroker – Installment 1
I have been asked a lot this summer, “Where are you working?” (I am currently working for my father when needed at his stores until I obtain a Marketing/Management role, or a position closely associated to the field I studied at Bentley.) They then ask, “What does he do?” If asked I tend to take time to explain a bit, and they are usually intrigued. Shows like pawn stars have really done an admirable job of creating a more positive image for the pawn industry, trying to negate the negative image that has been painted with commercials, literature, and the film industry. However, some individuals are still blinded by the negative image that has been ingrained into public majority for decades upon decades. One flare up recently by Kraft and recent negative feedback from a relatively close comrade cut deep. Both humorously depicted Pawn Shops as the negative and seedy store fronts from the past. Both sources were highly uneducated in their depiction of the store and how it is run.
First, let’s dispel the major flaws with the Kraft advertisement. No child i.e. anyone under the age of 18 could ever sell or pawn (take out a loan on an item) in a legal pawn shop. It is against federal law. Additionally, the idea that a Pawn Shop would willingly take in stolen goods is preposterous. I researched the likelihood of this occurring and learned that less than 1% proved to be stolen items, national average. Here is an interesting take on the industry theft possibility by our friends on the History Channel : The pawn stars.
As you can see, he/she would have to be a relatively incompetent crook if they were trying to get away with selling a stolen item to a Pawnbroker. Not only are Pawn Shops trained to appraise items quickly. All items that a pawn broker takes in are submitted to a database with all of the loaner/seller’s information. This database is directly tied into the police stolen item reports. Security is tight on a store based level. Most stores use camera systems to film entire transactions, some even go so far as to take finger prints. The pawning industry is very highly regulated. They are regulated on an extremely local authority level, and also, state and federal levels.
“The pawn industry is a heavily regulated provider of consumer financial services. In addition to state licensure requirements and laws concerning the terms and conditions of pawn loans, pawnbrokers are subject to 13 federal laws. These federal, state, and, in some instances, local laws govern every aspect of pawn transactions including interest rates, loan duration, redemption methods, record-keeping and transaction reporting requirements”
For the record, as a marketing major, I relatively enjoy the Kraft advertisement. The advertising company did a great job with the color scheme, the message, the lines, and the actor choices. However, the advertisement took a stab at a very unstable industry with the popular public. A strong company such as Kraft did not need to nationally campaign by unintentionally knocking other industries down a few pegs. That would be the equivalent of the pawning industry asks what the girl wanted the money for and the little girl answering “organic healthy local food! Dad only buys Kraft.” and then depict all of the negative chemicals and/or demonstrating working conditions involved in the making of Kraft macaroni. Let’s go so far as to depict a piece of an employee’s hair slipping out of the plastic hat going into the pasta machine, or beads of sweat dropping into the cheese. Icckk! Can you imagine? The advertisement is simply not a good example of business ethics; albeit, humorous.
This effort is a year old, but I am glad it was not just me who took offense to this commercial!