Cleaning Up Pawn: Some Stores Trying To Improve Image | News

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Cleaning Up Pawn: Some Stores Trying To Improve Image
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Some Jacksonville pawn shops are working to get rid of the stereotypes that often come with the business.

"There's no guy around here with a brimmed hat and a cigar hanging out," said Jay Graff.

Graff owns La Tienda Pawn, one of three similar stores on the corner of St. Augustine Road and University Boulevard.

La Tienda has been in the same spot since 1970, when Graff opened with just a couple of items for sale.

"We started very small and built up," he said.

The store has gone through some big changes, and not just in the huge inventory that lines the walls from floor to ceiling. 

"We did some renovations and I told the contractor to double the lighting."

He said he didn't need the extra lights, but wanted to make the store brighter and friendlier. 

He wanted to ditch the dark, shadowy pawn store.

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"The contractor said don't do it, but I said I'm paying for it, I want it. It's happier for the customers and makes them feel safer, especially at night."

This is all part of a national trend of sprucing up pawn stores, Graff said.

They're also building large web presences, which Graff said is a huge help and comfort for customers. "If you see the pictures on the website, and you see it's not a dangerous place, you're more likely to come in."

Because of his large, valuable inventory, which includes jewelry and crystal, Graff says he has to put bars on the windows and keep a locked door at all times.

"And that puts people off, but I have to for insurance purposes," he said. "But it's no different that what most jewelry stores have to do."

He knows pawn stores can't make a run at larger department stores, but says they do have their place in giving the consumer other options.

"The advantage of buying at a pawn shop is we're negotiable," Graff said. 

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