Life as a Female Pawnbroker



Tina Cook Franks, a manager at Granger Jewelry and Pawn, remembers the day, years ago, when an elderly widower came into her store. She was working at a small mom-and-pop pawnshop at the time, and she is a skilled appraiser. The old man came up to the counter and explained his situation.

He and his wife had never had much money, but they had raised a family and owned their house. Now his wife had passed away, and the house was falling apart. It was all he had, but it wasn’t much. He needed a new roof, furnace, water heater – the works. He didn’t have enough savings to cover the expense.

“What could I do?” Franks wondered, “What could he have brought with him that would possibly get him enough money to pay for all those renovations?”

He brought out a series of boxes, his wife’s collection of costume jewelry, gathered from years of garage sales and thrift shops. Franks opened the boxes, poring over his items, cataloguing and appraising each one. When she was done, she turned to him and made him an offer.

“When he learned that the jewelry was worth enough to pay for all of the repairs, he called me his angel and broke down crying. He thanked me for being so honest,” Tina recalls. This is her favorite memory from years spent as a pawnbroker.

Pawning Through the Ages
Pawning isn’t new. Pawnshops have been around since the 19th century. Charles Dickens wrote an entire short story about them. To pawn something means to leave something of value in exchange for a small loan with interest. Back when pawning began, people would pawn everything from jewelry and silverware to clothes and tools. In the landmark 1948 Italian film “Bicycle Thieves,” the protagonist even pawns his wife’s bridal linens so he can buy a bicycle and get a job to support his family.

Partially because people often patronized pawnshops during times of great need and distress, leaving the objects they most valued behind, pawnshops developed a rather negative reputation. Dickens certainly didn’t care for them.

However, even Dickens admits that there are different levels of pawnshops – the higher-end ones in his time often had back or secluded entrances, so people could conduct their business privately. Improved laws made the institutions more reputable as well.

And one must admit that pawnshops serve a purpose. They allow people to liquidate their non-monetary assets so they can meet their immediate needs. Maria Tanksley, district manager of Worldwide Jewelry and Pawn (WWJP) in South Bend, notes that “40% of people do not have a relationship with a financial institution. We help them when they need extra cash.”

They are, as in Dickens’ time, discreet and courteous. And, lately, they have become superstars. The next chapter in the pawnshop history has been, ironically, televised on the History Channel. The show Pawn Stars features three generations of the Harrison family: grandfather, father, son, and son’s dopey friend, all working at a successful pawnshop in Las Vegas.

The show is a certifiable hit, and other stations are trying to get in on the action. In May of this year, The Learning Channel found what they thought was a new angle, creating the show “Pawn Queens.” The show follows two women and two men at their pawnshop in Naperville, Ill. After all, who would ever think of women working in a pawnshop?

Pawn Queens? Really?
TLC is a bit behind the times. Women have worked in pawnshops at least since that short story by Dickens; he mentions a female pawnbroker. However, it is true that women have certainly been underrepresented in the field.

The National Pawnbrokers Association (NPA) says women are more common now than in the past: “The number of women pawnbrokers has grown in the last decade, as well as their involvement as advocates for the industry on a regional, state, and national level.”

One of their members, Ramona Thompson, remembers a time when she was the only woman on the NPA Board of Directors; now they make up more than 10% of the members. Steps are certainly being made to acknowledge the contributions of women to the field.

In our area, there are quite a few women working and managing Michiana pawn shops. These women include the aforementioned Tina Cook Franks and Maria Tanksley. Franks comes from a family of auctioneers and antiquarians, and Tanksley began her career as a pawnbroker after working in finance management. Tanksley says that this is typical: many people come into the business from a retail or management background.

Both women strive to set their shops apart from the stereotype that Dickens propounded. “Our WWJP stores are clean and our staff is friendly, well trained and knowledgeable,” says Tanksley.

“Granger Jewelry and Pawn feels like any other jewelry or fine goods store,” Franks brags, “except that everything is for sale.”

That’s the Ticket!
Everything is not only for sale, but it’s drastically reduced from retail prices. Franks says that you can buy the same ring at her shop as you can at a standard jewelry store – without the high retail markup. Tanksley explains, “Since our merchandise is priced 50% below retail, we can offer families a bargain when shopping for items they need.”

Both women have noted the business has increased since the recession. People still want the fine goods, but they go to pawnshops in order to save money on them. Plus, they may have even more variety at a pawnshop than at a standard store. For example, if you are looking for an engagement ring, a pawnshop will have modern options, but they may also have an antique Victorian ring, one that suits you and your unique style perfectly. This also goes for those interested in furniture or fine home goods.

Plus, now that more women are working at the shops, you will have the added bonus of a feminine eye. Consider this, explains Franks, “If a woman comes into a shop and says, ‘I want a necklace for my 12-year-old daughter, something pretty and delicate,’ a female clerk is more likely to know what she wants than a man.”

This is a bonus: women with a love of people, working knowledge of antiques and jewelry, and desire to learn have new opportunities in this business.

A Safe Bet
Also, for those who are moving, downsizing, or in need of extra cash, the pawnshop is the way to go. You can sell the old ring your Aunt Martha gave you, the one that snags on everything when you wear it. You can get rid of the neon green electric guitar you know (and hope) your husband will never again play.

Or, if you need to make ends meet until the first paycheck comes in from your new job, consider pawning something of value, and then redeeming it. An advantage of selling gold is that it is now at a premium, so you may get more than you expected. Since the economy tumbled, many people are bringing in old gold and silver; it has served as a backup savings account for them.

Plus, pawnshops provide secure transactions for both sellers and buyers since they are tightly regulated by the state. If an item is sold to the shop, they have to hold it for more than a month. If it’s pawned, they still have to hold it for more than a week. Brokers abide by strict identification and fingerprinting laws for security purposes. Contrary to the stereotype, pawnshops aren’t fences for stolen goods.

So, if you need to sell an item that’s perhaps too good for a garage sale, consider pawning it instead. It’s less of a hassle than using an online store, such as Ebay; it’s secure, and you have the option to buy it back if you return within a certain amount of time. And while you’re there, you may just meet one of Michiana’s own pawn queens greeting you from behind the counter.

Tina Cook Franks can’t recall a time when she wasn’t trading. Her parents were traders, auctioneers, and appraisers, so she naturally fell into the business. In particular, she remembers being seven and buying items from garage sales, scrapping and then using the proceeds to buy herself a brand-new pair of skates.

Maria Tanksley has been the district manager of Worldwide Jewelry and Pawn in South Bend for three years. Previously, she worked in the financial sector as a mortgage broker and personal banker. She appreciates WWJP’s involvement in the community and has participated in their service events.


How to Pawn or Sell an iPad


When Steve Jobs announced to the world that the release of the iPad would come on April 3, 2010, most people thought that it was just a larger iPhone – a novelty item that no one would actually want. 6 versions within 5 years later, the iPad has become essential to daily lives of many people and businesses, making it very valuable to pawn shops. If you have an iPad that you would like to pawn or sell, here are a few things you should do to get the highest offer possible.

Backup Your Information

Before you sell, you’ll want to backup any pictures, videos, music, or information either to your iCloud or any other external hard drive. You don’t want your valuable information and files in the hands of the person who happens to purchase your iPad from the pawn shop.

Restore Your Phone/Sign Out of iCloud

Once you’ve saved all your information and files to an external hard drive, the next thing you want to do is erase all content on your iPad and restore it to factory settings. Go to settings> hit the General tab>Reset>Erase all content and settings. You’ll also want to make sure you are completely signed out of iCloud and Find My iPad.


If you have any of the original packaging and accessories that came with the iPad, bring those along with you. Bring accessories like the charger, case, keyboard, or Apple Pen; these are essential to ensuring that you get the highest price possible for your iPad.

Let’s Talk Offer Price

It’s really hard to gauge what your offer price could be on your iPad because there are so many variables such as generation(age), condition, storage, and if it is cellular compatible, but here’s an estimate:

If you have an iPad 1st-4th Generation, you could get between $50-150, based on the condition of the iPad.

In 2012 apple introduced the first iPad Mini, and then the following year the iPad Air and the iPad Mini 2. These could be worth between $150-250.

The iPad Air 2(2014), iPad Mini 3(2014) and Mini 4(2015) should be between $200-300

These offer prices apply only if your iPad is in good condition (minor scratches) to new.

Additional Information:

  • Before you take it into the pawn shop make sure you clean off any dust or dirt that it may have. You want to make your iPad as new as possible to get you a high offer price.
  • Have the iPad you wish to pawn or sell fully charged so that when the pawnbroker evaluates it, he can play with it a little bit just to make sure it works smoothly.

By David @Pawnguru

How to Pawn or Sell Your Headphones


Headphones are on that list of perfect gifts to get for your friend or special loved one. Why? Because they are a useful device and can be used anytime. When you’re cleaning, walking to work, studying, working, cooking etc. I don’t know how I would’ve gotten through college without my headphones. Pawn shops know how valuable headphones can be and are willing to offer good money to people interested in selling them. If you have headphones you’re interested in selling, here are a few tips to get the most money for your headphones.

Research The Market

Headphones can cost a few bucks to hundreds of dollars depending on type of headphones, brand, and condition. If you’re headphones cost between $8-$150, expect to get between $0-$80. Headphone’s between that price range maybe great headphones but are just not designed to last. If your headphones are between $150-$300, then expect to get around $80-$230; and just to remind you, these prices are based on if your headphones are relatively new and are in good condition.

Packaging and Accessories

If you have the original packaging and accessories that came with your headphones, I would strongly recommend you have those present with your headphones. Presentation is key when trying to sell your headphones. This shows pawn shops that your headphones were well taken care of when you were using them and are in great condition.

Audio Cord

If your audio cord is damaged, then you can completely forget about getting money for your headphones. If your headphones are between $150-$300, then expect your offer price to be dramatically reduced because pawn shops won’t be able to tell how long your headphones will last because the damage to your audio cord reflects to how well you took care of your headphones while they were under your use.

By David @ Pawnguru

Higher End Pawn Loans

Skid-Steer-BobcatThere are times you need money and the bank isn’t an option. Payroll needs to be met, you had a flood in the home and need new flooring. Whatever the case we can help!

We give loans on newer BMW autos and light industrial equipment such as Bobcats, If it has value most likely we’ll look at it. If you are not sure feel free to call us at 513-407-3252 or you can email us at we’ll work hard to get you the money you need.


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We have an immediate opening for our next Pawn Star. Looking for a person with management experience. Self-motivated individual with good work ethics.

For more details, feel free to contact Mr. Stahl at 513-407-3252

Buying a Low Cost Musical Instrument Can Increase Your Child’s Brain Power

When it comes time to tighten up the budget one of the first things to go is the arts. Schools eliminate programs or parents opt out of programs to save money. Music can have such a profound effect on a child’s development, however, that parents may want to reconsider before deciding not to sign their children up for music lessons. Instead of eliminating music, consider finding ways to fit it into the budget such as finding low price musical instruments and taking advantage of free public school music programs when available.

The process of learning musical instrument helps children develop their emotional, mental and cognitive abilities. It helps improve concentration, coordination and self- confidence. Studies show that there is a correlation between music and higher academic achievement. Children who learn to play an instrument tend to have better math and reading scores. Music is known to improve memory, boost brain power and aid in social skills. It also fosters creativity and teaches patience and discipline; skills many of today’s youth are lacking. Finally, it’s known to help relieve stress which is an outlet many youth need in today’s high pressure society.

The many benefits of music to a child’s development are compelling reasons to fit it into the budget, and it may not be as expensive as you think. When your child comes home asking to sign up for band class at school and you start looking at the prices of saxophones, clarinets and flutes it may look impossible. The best way to save money is to skip the rental contract the local music store is trying to push on you and look for low price musical instruments second hand. A pawn shop in Cincinnati may be your best bet. Not only do pawn shops have affordable guitars they also carry many other quality instruments. Remember your goal at this point is for your child to reap the benefits of the process of learning how to play. A low price musical instrument from a pawn shop can put them on that path without breaking your budget.

Look your Best on a Budget: How Pawn Shops, Thrift Stores and your Neighborhood Tailor can help

Looking good not only helps you feel good but it can also make an impact on your personal and professional life. Research shows that when your wardrobe is up to date you give the impression of being more up to date and knowledgeable of current trends in your professional field as well. It can be hard in difficult financial times to stay current, however, being creative with what you have and where you shop can help stretch your dollar. Pawn shops, for example, may not come to mind when thinking about fashion, but you can get great deals on fine jewelry to amp up your style. The following tips can help you save a bundle and look your best.

Pawn Shops – As previously mentioned, pawn shops are the best places to find deals on fine jewelry. You can also sell gold pieces that are dated or broken to a pawn shop and use the cash to get more current accessories. Accessories can make an outfit so having the right piece is important. Many people don’t think of a pawn shop as a jewelry store, but a lot of pawn shops specialize in jewelry and even have certified gemologists on staff. Many pawn shops even do custom made pieces.

Thrift Stores – Smaller thrift stores and consignment stores are where you are likely to find the best and most up to date items. A consignment store’s items are selectively purchased by buyers who are aware of current trends. You will pay a bit more but you will do less digging and come out with better quality items.

Tailors – Every woman has a little black dress. They’re timeless, however, things like the cut or length may not be up to date. You can take items you already have in your closet, or items picked up secondhand to a tailor to have them fitted to you and modernized. Your clothes look best when they fit you properly and simply changing a hemline or neckline can make an old piece more modern.

A Budget Wedding Starts With a Budget Diamond Ring

More couples are looking to plan budget weddings in this economy. They are getting creative with decorations, location, honeymoons, dresses, food and so much more. Budgeting for your wedding, however, can start with your first trip to the jewelry store. Remember, the less you spend on the diamond engagement ring the more you have to set aside for the big day.

That’s not to say you don’t want to find the perfect diamond ring. Your wedding is one day of your life, but you will wear that ring on your finger for the rest of your days. Thinking outside the box when you do your shopping will help you find the ring you want and still be able to put some aside for the flowers and the cake.

The first thing you need to do is study up on diamond jewelry. When purchasing a diamond you want to consider cut, clarity, color and carat. Decide what cut and color you like. Understand how the carat is going to affect the price. As the carat weight goes up so does the price and a small increase in carat can mean a large increase in price. Opting for a slightly smaller carat that won’t look that different on your finger can save a lot of money.

Once you have an idea of exactly what it is you’re looking for start your comparison shopping. Don’t be afraid to look beyond the traditional retail jewelry store. For example many pawn shops have expert gemologists on staff and an excellent selection of diamond jewelry. They will frequently offer custom designs if you can’t find what you’re looking. Many pawn shops also offer jewelry repair. An old family heirloom that’s not in the best shape could be fixed up into something beautiful and meaningful. Remember, the idea is to save money but still get the perfect ring. You are likely to spend less for something better at a pawn shop.

Difficult financial times don’t mean you have to put your life on hold. If you have to do your wedding budget style, starting with the ring can help you stretch your dollar a bit further.

What the Gold Price Means to the Average Consumer

Gold prices have skyrocketed in recent years and experts are speculating that it is only going to continue to grow. As the economy, both in the U.S. and globally, continues to suffer gold continues to rise. Governments looking to rejuvenate the economy are introducing stimulus programs which in turn devalue currency and lead to inflation. Investors see gold as a safe-haven against inflation so as more stimulus measures are taken, gold is predicted to continue rising.

What does this mean for the non-gold investor’s trip to the jewelry store? Gold jewelry prices are not likely to climb at any extreme rate. When you buy retail you’re paying for design and manufacture as well as gold, which means gold price has a smaller effect on the value of the jewelry. When gold prices are high, gold jewelry designers will use less gold in a piece in order to keep prices affordable. This means that while prices won’t skyrocket, your piece may be smaller in weight.

It is tempting for many people to sell gold while the price is so high, however, this may not necessarily be the right time. Gold prices are high and you will get a good price, but keep in mind gold is expected to continue to rise and the value of your gold is likely to go up even more.
If you’re short on cash, it may be a better time to use your gold, especially if it has sentimental value to you, as collateral and take out a pawn loan. You can take advantage of the value of your gold to get the cash you need, and with the gold price so high your loan amount is likely to go up. More importantly you get to keep your gold and let it continue to gain value over time.

The Difference between Pawning and Selling

As the economy continues to struggle more and more people are discovering the benefits of a pawn shop to get them through tough times. If you have assets, then there is quick cash to be had at a pawn shop whether you want to sell or take out a pawn loan. Many novices to the pawn experience aren’t sure of the difference between selling and taking out a pawn loan, and are not sure what the right option is for them.

A pawn loan, or collateral loan, means you use an asset you have to borrow cash with the intention of paying back the cash plus interest and retrieving your collateral. The only risk to taking out a pawn loan is the possible loss of your asset. On the downside, you have to pay back the cash you get. On the plus side, you get to keep your asset and get cash with no risk to your credit. If your collateral is of sentimental value to you, pawning it means you can access its worth without losing your treasured belonging. Also, you aren’t going to get the full worth of your item when selling it. A pawn loan can get you the cash you need, and you retain your valuable collateral. This is especially important to consider if your asset is something that is likely to increase its value over time, such as gold or diamond jewelry.

Pawn shops also offer to simply buy your valuables. The benefit is you get quick cash free and clear. There is no pressure to pay anything back. Selling is an especially good option if you are trying to sell gold jewelry that is mismatched or broken. It may be of very little use to you, but a pawn shop will buy gold that’s in bad shape and resell it for scrap.

Whether you want to sell or take out a collateral loan, a pawn shop can provide you with the quick cash you need during difficult times.