Archive for the ‘Store’ Category
Tuesday, December 20th, 2011
There are many misconceptions about the pawnbroker industry. The following facts address much of the fiction about how we do business, the cost of our service, and the customers we serve.
FICTION: Pawnbrokers lend only to the unemployed and the unbanked.
FACT: Individuals who use pawnbroker services are hardworking citizens with jobs–most of whom have bank accounts. These individuals sometimes need a small short-term loan to help make ends meet. Eighty percent of our customers are employed; 82 % of them have a high school diploma or GED, the average age of our customer is 42, and more than a third of our customers own their own home.
Further, small business owners frequently use our services when they encounter cash flow problems and need money for such things as payroll.
FICTION: Pawnshops are the largest buyer of secondhand goods.
FACT: Not true. Locally, pawnbroker transactions make up less then 10% of the secondhand goods buyer market. With the growth in Internet buying, online auction sites like E-Bay, generate more than 99% of secondhand goods buyer activity. However, law officials do not monitor such sites closely, which makes them ideal vehicles for thieves to unload stolen goods.
FICTION: Pawnshops are a haven for criminals looking to unload stolen goods.
FACT: This is simply not true. Less then one-half of 1% of items brought into pawnshops are stolen. In fact, pawnbrokers, including Top Dollar Pawnbrokers, work closely with local police to retrieve stolen goods and help curtail criminal activity in the community. For each transaction, we require two forms of ID as well as a thumbprint. Each day, Top Dollar provides local police with detailed descriptions of all transactions which are videotaped, including model numbers, serial numbers, and customer data. If an item is stolen, the police confiscate it. Top Dollar then goes to court to help prosecute the criminal!
FICTION: Pawnbrokers charge much higher fees than other short-term lenders.
FACT: Typically, pawnbroker fees are less than those charged by other short-term lenders. Our average loan is $72, which carries a fee of about $14. The larger the loan, the lower the fee. In addition, consumers choose pawnbrokers as a lending option to avoid higher fees such as re-connection fees charged by utility companies and bank NSF fees, which range from $27 to $35.
FICTION: Pawnbrokers are not good corporate citizens and don’t give back.
FACT: Again, not true. Pawnbrokers are responsible and engaged members of the community. At Top Dollar, we make regular donations to local organizations, including the Children’s Cancer Recovery Foundation, the Katie Able Foundation, local churches, public schools, as well as police and fire stations. In addition, to promote reading among children who live near our store, we created the Children’s Book Corner, an in-store bookshelf with loads of free books for neighborhood kids to read and enjoy.
Friday, December 2nd, 2011
Who Uses Pawnbrokers?
Pawnbroker customers are hardworking consumers who typically lack access to traditional short term lending options. These individuals often live paycheck to paycheck and experience cashflow problems from time to time. Pawnbroker loans are used to meet cashflow needs mainly brought on by unexpected financial emergencies, including medical expenses, home and car repairs, childcare expenses, as well as other household necessities such as utility payments, rent and mortgage payments.
At Top Dollar, our average customer is 42 years in age and obtain loans averaging $72.
The Lending Process
Pawnbroking is society’s oldest lending institution that dates back to early Greek and Roman civilizations. The lending process is simple and straightforward. Customers present their own personal property as collateral to obtain small short-term loans. The nature of the collateral presented includes everything from computer equipment to bicycles to jewelry. The collateral property is available for redemption until the expiration of a contract. When the customer is ready to redeem the loan, his or her property is returned upon repayment of the loan and a small fee.
To avoid lending against stolen goods, pawnbrokers are required to verify the identity of each borrower by scanning a government issued ID such as a drivers license, collecting the borrower’s thumb print, and videotaping the transaction.
Credit background checks are not required to obtain a loan, nor are there credit consequences to the borrower if he/she decides not to redeem his/her collateral. Items that are not redeemed are sold at an affordable price to retail consumers.
Contract Terms & Fees
Terms and conditions specified in pawnbroker contracts, including the interest rate, are regulated by the state. In Maryland, contract periods are limited to 30 days with the option to extend the contract.
The state of Maryland also mandates that pawnbrokers collect the following information from consumers who enter into a pawn transaction:
• Name and address;
• Date of birth;
• Gender and ethnicity;
• Government-issued form of personal identification;
• Date and time of the transaction; and
• Description of pawn items, including serial and model numbers, and identifying markings.
Federal Laws & Industry Regulation
To protect consumers, the pawnbroker industry is highly monitored and regulated. A number of federal laws govern how we do business, including:
• USA Patriot Act;
• Truth-in-Lending Act;
• Bank Secrecy Act and IRS regulations requiring reporting of certain cash transactions;
• Trading with the Enemy Act and related Executive Orders and regulations; and
• Privacy provisions of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Financial Services Modernization Act.
Thursday, December 1st, 2011
At Top Dollar, we work hard to be a supportive and engaged member of the community. As such, we sponsor community outreach efforts, and support charities and other nonprofit organizations. Our giving is focused on efforts that deliver positive outcomes in the areas of education, healthcare/wellness, social services, and civic duty. The following are a few of the ways we support the community in which we serve.
Top Dollars’ Children’s Book Corner
Children who read are more likely to develop a greater interest in school and tend to perform better academically. Hence, to promote reading among children who live near our store, Top Dollar created the Children’s Book Corner. The Children’s Book Corner is an in-store bookshelf stocked with more than 250 free books appropriate for children up to 10 years of age. This very popular section of our store is open to all neighborhood kids who want to check out a book and read at their leisure.
Children’s Cancer Recovery Foundation
Each year, Top Dollar donates to the Children’s Cancer Recovery Foundation—a national organization that supports children living with cancer and their families. The organization’s mission is to help cancer patients survive through integrated cancer care, a process pioneered by Greg Anderson—a cancer survivor and founder of Cancer Recovery Foundation International.
The Katie Able Foundation
Top Dollar Pawnbrokers is a strong supporter of the Katie Able Foundation, a community-based organization dedicated to helping individuals achieve financial freedom. The organization offers valuable social, educational, and economic empowerment programs including: adult education, youth development, services for victims of domestic violence, financial literacy, business and workforce development training, and family support services.
Prince George’s County Professional Fire Fighters and Paramedics Association
Each year, the lives of many Prince George’s County residents are saved due to brave rescue efforts of local firefighters and paramedics. Top Dollar thanks these men and women for their heroic work, and as such makes an annual contribution to the Prince George’s County Professional Fire Fighters and Paramedics Association. Our contributions support fire fighters’ giving to local charities including, the Muscular Dystrophy Association, Washington Hospital Center Burn Unit, Race for the Cure, and the National Fallen Fire Fighters Foundation.
Words of Gratitude from Schools We Support
Dear Top Dollar Pawnbrokers,
I can’t believe it. This morning when I woke up to read “Your project has been fully funded!” in my email inbox I nearly cried. This overwhelming emotion is entirely because of you, your generous donations, and your continued inspiration to my students and me…. My students will be pleased and excited when I tell them that our project has been funded. I can’t wait until Monday!
Potomac High School
Oxon Hill, Maryland
Dear Top Dollar Pawnbrokers,
Thank you so much for your generous donation, which will aid my music students…. Our music program [Making the Notes Come Alive!] is already striving to do so much to enrich the lives of these high-need students, and being able to offer them the most dynamic, exciting lessons that we can will not only improve their musicality but also their literacy, mathematical skills, and self-esteem. Thank you once more for your generosity!
Flintstone Elementary School
Oxon Hill, Maryland
Tuesday, November 8th, 2011
Earlier today three men in their upper teens or early twenties came in the shop wanting to sell some electronics. They had a 32″ flat screen TV in fairly good condition, another smaller flat screen TV with half a mount attached to the back and a couple game systems missing most of the plugs and attachments. What would you think? Without hesitation I believed the items had been stolen so I kindly told them that we could not take the items because of the item condition – it is not the best idea to go around telling people you think their stuff is hot. Now I ask myself, was that the right thing to do? The items are probably now being sold to one of five non-regulated stores located within walking distance of our pawn store. When I say non-regulated I mean they are not regulated because they are clothing stores, restaurants, gas stations, etc… We hear all the time “so and so around the corner offered me $100 for this so I’m going there”. If you stand outside and watch you see the transactions taking place. Being non-regulated the stores can turn around and sell the item the next day, we have to wait at least 30 days. Being non-regulated the police have no idea what’s being bought or sold. I am of course angry that we have competition that does not have to follow the same rules but I also have other concerns. I want the criminals off the street as much as anyone else. We DO NOT want to make money on stolen items. Going back to ‘Was that the right thing to do?’ If we had purchased the items the police would have had a complete report on all the items including serial numbers, model numbers and description, we send this report nightly. The police would have also had the name, address, social security number, description and drivers license number taken directly off of the subjects ID’s, also sent nightly in the report. We also keep very nice video footage. Years ago the police would ask us to take the items in even if we thought they were stolen so that the they would have something to work with and the victim would have a chance of finding their stolen belongings. Now if we take the item in not only are we out the money we gave but the statistics of how many items are confiscated from us is used against us. There are other states that have funds set aside to reimburse pawnshop owners when items that are purchased help prosecute the criminals. Other states, at the least, help the pawnshops to recoup their losses from the criminal by filing for restitution.
To sum up my rambles I have two things to say;
1) If you are in law enforcement or the local government please know that we want to help.
2) If you are a criminal then know if you bring a stolen item to Top Dollar Pawnbrokers we are either going to turn you away or we will make sure that you are caught and prosecuted.
Saturday, January 1st, 2011
We were blessed enough to have the opportunity to help a growing family of 9 this holiday season. Everyone in the family woke up Christmas morning to a new pair of shoes and toys galore. All of us at Top Dollar Pawnbrokers look forward to doing more each Christmas for deserving families in our neighborhood. If you know a family that you feel deserves a Christmas like never before please don’t hesitate to drop us their information and a hint as to what you think may bring smiles to their faces.
Friday, December 17th, 2010
We have been knee deep in litigation with the county. Three weeks ago we managed to get a TRO (temporary restraining order) against parts of CB-40-2010. What that means is that the county cannot enforce certain parts of the bill. Yesterday we had our preliminary injunction hearing which would extend the TRO until we can go to full trial. Everything in court seemed to go well, I can’t go into specifics for obvious reasons, but one aspect of court seemed especially unfair. The county claimed its witnesses were all sick but since all of our witnesses were there we still had to present our side of the case. The county has now seen our entire hand and has until February 1st to formulate its side of the case based on what it saw us present. Does this seem unfair to anyone else? They didn’t even have to name their witnesses.
I will give more updates shortly…. Thanks for all your support!
Friday, October 15th, 2010
We had a rough inspection yesterday. I can’t blame the Detective for these errors even though I still find it absurd we have to go through this. Sometimes I don’t know if I am putting up too much of a battle or not. There are two fronts right now. The County Council, Eric Olson in particular, and the Pawn Unit. I don’t know most of the members of the Pawn unit I only really know the detective that audits our store. I hear from other shops that have other detectives doing their audits that it is a much friendlier relationship. I do believe we could have a good relationship with the pawn unit but not with our current detective. Having a detective come into your store that you know wants to take your livelihood and the livelihood of your family and friends away makes it personal. If she was simply auditing us, working with us and even giving us citations but was also trying to help us it would be a different story. She does not want us here and would be quite happy to help in our extinction.
The detective was only in our shop for about 40 minutes which is relatively short. It is probably because she found 3-5 errors within the first 20 minutes. A few missing signatures and a mistyped social security number. I had hired a legal aid to audit us nightly, needless to say she is no longer working here. I will have to audit the store myself daily for the foreseeable future. Besides these errors there were two other larger issues that were spoken about. Quick back story; we had a meeting with the pawn unit of the Prince Georges County Police Department along with representatives from the DLLR and DER. This meeting was supposed to bring us closer together and start a new relationship of cooperation. One of the issues we asked about was the sending of the daily police reports by 10am. On the rare occasion we lose internet or electricity these data files cannot be sent. In this meeting they made it very clear that was an understandable exception. This happened to use twice over the past month, both times I notified the unit and thought it wasn’t anything that would be spoken about. We are RARELY ever late on these because I wrote a script that automatically send these files in the morning. Human error has been completely removed. We were not written up but we were given a verbal warning so hopefully Pepco and Verizon DSL have sorted out their issues. The second issue that we were warned about was our collection of second ID’s. We recently were forced to switch to a Maryland issued transaction form. Prince George’s County has slightly different rules when it comes to second ID’s so the form doesn’t exactly fit what they want therefore we have to hand write extra information that just adds to the chance of more errors. The main rule is that second ID’s have to be trackable. We usually use social security cards which work great and we also use credit card numbers. Problem with credit card numbers is that they are long therefore there is no room to write the issuing bank name or type of card. I argued that none of that information is even needed since the card number itself makes it trackable. I’m not sure if the detective did not believe me or that this whole ‘cooperation’ thing is just a bunch of b*s*. My whole goal is to narrow my chances of having any human error on the part of my employees and give the detectives the tools to fight crime. I have created a tool that should help solve this small issue for both of us. - http://topdollarpawnbrokers.com/cc.asp