Traditionally considered a male-dominated field, pawnbroking has changed in recent years. While reality shows like ours have certainly impacted the image of the pawnshop, the influence of women in the industry cannot be overlooked. In honor of Women’s History Month, we wanted to take a look at a few who have personified what it means to be a pawnbroker in the modern age and give you some tips on breaking into the business.
Beverly Loan Company owner Jordan Tabach-Bank reflected on the impact of his mother, Jeannie Zimmelman. “It has been over a decade since the loss of my mother, and our clients still continually express what she meant to them both as a businesswoman and as a friend.”
Zimmelman owned and operated Beverly Loan from the late 1980s until 2005, after having worked alongside the company’s founder, her father, Louis Zimmelman. Jeannie was known for being ahead of her time, adept at balancing her commitment to running a world-class business with the responsibilities of motherhood and family.
When asked about lessons he learned from her, Tabach-Bank said, “She was known to say, ‘ABC: Always Be Closing,’ and consistently reminded me to treat customers from all walks of life the same, no matter if they are seeking a loan of $100 or $100,000.” Tabach-Bank proudly remarked that his mom would definitely be featured on the Mt. Rushmore of “women in pawn.”
Lauren Kaminsky, president of EZ Pawn Corp and member of the board of directors of the National Pawnbrokers Association, believes there is still plenty of untapped potential for women’s empowerment within the industry. A graduate of Boston University School of Management, Kaminsky works alongside her father and brother, managing their 14 stores throughout New York City.
“Our pawn clientele at EZ are nearly an exact 50/50 of men and women. As a woman in the industry, I believe I have a unique skill set that allows me to meet the needs of our female customers and make sure they feel 100 percent comfortable in our locations,” she said.
When asked about influential women in the industry, Kaminsky cites a long list, including Dana Meinecke, Kathleen Barbee, Kathy Pierce, Diane Taylor, Fran Bishop and Professor Sarah Jane Hughes. “My own staff have also taught deep appreciation and respect for the women that are working in the pawn stores every day,” she said. “And of course I admire my cousin Rachel Wilen, who has worked her way up and is now president of the largest pawnshop in NYC. Her strength, knowledge and advice have helped me overcome many obstacles as I have grown in the business.”
Now is a great time for anyone to work in pawnbroking, a 3,000-year-old industry that is challenging, exciting and presents an always changing environment with limitless opportunities. Here are three tips for women who are interested in becoming pawnbrokers:
- Work your way up: Pawnbroking is a complex business best learned through experience in valuation of goods for lending or buying, sales and customer service.
- Invest in your skills: Pawnbroking is a competitive industry. Set yourself apart by gaining skills and training that give you an edge over your peers — GIA Certification is an essential start if you’re going to be successful.
- Get involved: Joining the National Pawnbrokers Association, as well as your state association, is a great way to meet industry leaders and network with your peers. Attending regional and national conferences also keep you abreast of changes to pawnbroking laws and best practices
To learn more about the industry as a whole, visit the National Pawnbrokers Association.
Seth Gold will serve as the keynote speaker at the Midwest Pawnbrokers Convention, May 13-15 in Louisville, Kentucky. Register at http://midwestpawnconvention.org/Home.php.