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Pawn Industry Insider: Interview with a Pawnshop Manager

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There are many myths about the pawn industry. If you’ve ever been curious about the industry and the people working in it, this article will provide you with more insight.

Josh Litz, the manager of Maxferd’s San Francisco pawn shop was recently interviewed and we are excited to share the interview questions and answers.

Interview with a pawn industry insider

Pawn Shop Questions and Answers

How did you get started in the pawn industry?

I had come home from college one summer and started looking for a job. I came across an opening at Palace Jewelry and Loan in Reno, NV, owned by the Mack family. I applied and that was the beginning of my career in the pawn industry.

How long have you been in the industry?

I’ve been in the industry for approx. 25 years between Palace Jewelry and Loan and Maxferd Jewelry and Loan.

What are some of the challenges you have faced and how did you overcome them?

When you get involved in the pawn industry, you need a lot of education in a lot of different ways. You need to be an expert in not just one area but so, so many.

Finding ways to get the knowledge needed has always been a challenge. With the internet, it’s become much easier. But it’s not just product knowledge, you also need to know how to read people and all the different situations that come up in your day-to-day dealings.

You need to invest in yourself and keep up to date on the industry and what is coming out in regards to new tech and all the new super good fake, simulated, and lab-grown products that have been flooding the market.

What do you enjoy the most about your job?

I enjoy helping people and seeing all the interesting items people bring in.

What do you enjoy the least about your job?

One of the hardest parts of the job is seeing people in need and or desperation. It can wear on a person but helping every time I get a chance is what it’s all about.

How safe is it to work in a pawn shop?

I think every store and every location has its challenges as far as safety. You need to make sure you are aware of your surroundings at all times and make sure you’ve trained your staff to do the same.

What’s the most expensive item you have ever bought?

Over the last 25 years, there have been so many high-dollar items coming through our store. I have seen multiple watches and large diamonds that have been well into the 6 figure realm.

Have you ever been scammed by a customer?

When I first started in the business I once took in a “brand new” sealed in plastic video camera.  Once the customer took one foot out the door I all of the sudden had a bad feeling. I opened that box right then and found that my great buy had just turned into a very expensive 2 liter of soda.  That was the last time I loaned on or bought an item without opening the box, sealed or not!

Do most people pawn or sell items?

Most people that I’ve helped end up loaning on the items they bring in and most also reclaim their pawned items.

Do you come across a lot of stolen items?

We rarely come across items that have been stolen. You need to know that all items that come into a pawnbroker are checked against the California stolen item database. Therefore, bringing stolen merch to a pawnbroker is one of the worst places to bring stolen merch unless you like going to jail.

Some people think pawn shops are loan sharks. What’s your take on this?

Pawnbrokers are here to help people with short-term cash with non-recourse loans. That means that we loan on merchandise and not on the person.

Pawn loans do not require a credit check and never negatively impact a customer’s credit score. Independent pawnbrokers comply with local, state, and federal regulations and laws, and we also provide local law enforcement with data on all transactions daily.

People who put pawnbrokers in the same category as gangsters have the wrong idea as pawnbrokers have been misrepresented in the media and movies. Today’s pawnbrokers are well-educated businessmen and women who are pillars in their communities.

Do you often have to deal with rude and arrogant customers like portrayed in some TV shows?

Often people are misinformed about the actual value of an item. Yes, that can be difficult, but if you are patient and explain your evaluations with care and honesty most people conclude that you’re just trying to give them correct information so they can make an educated decision.

What makes Maxferd San Francisco a great pawn shop?

Maxferd of San Francisco prides itself on being the oldest continually operated pawnbroker in the United States. We treat each customer with professionalism and the common courtesy they deserve.

Maxferd also has great items for sale. Once someone comes to Maxferd they always come back. People love to do business with someone honest and reputable and when you’ve been helping many generations of Bay Area residents you end up with quite a following.

Any tips or advice for customers who want to sell or pawn an item?

I would say it’s a good idea to know as much about the item as possible before coming to your local pawnbroker.

Is there anything I haven’t asked that you wish I had asked?

Well, we could talk about the history and the regulations of pawnbrokers all day but just to give a small morsel; pawn transactions are the oldest form of regulated consumer credit and are governed by 15 federal statutes and regulations as well as numerous state and local laws.


We trust that Josh’s open and frank answers gave you a new perspective on the pawn industry, the people who work in it, and cleared up some myths.

If you’re in the San Francisco area, feel free to call Josh at (415) 967-6405. Or better still, visit our San Francisco pawn shop if you want to buy, sell or pawn any items. Maxferd also has four conveniently situated pawn shops in Los Angeles.

We look forward to seeing you soon at one of our pawn shops!