Waterford Township officials recently renewed the pawn licenses for three community businesses.
With almost 40 years of business experience in the Waterford community, Ronnie Fink has the kind of longevity that other businessmen dream of. With a little tweak to his business model, the near future looks very promising.
Fink started working at his father’s jewelry and furniture store when he was very young and eventually turned an after-school job into a full-time job. When a friend of his father’s announced he was building a shopping mall in Waterford, he was asked if he wanted to own his own store.
That was 1972, and Ronnie’s Jewelry and Loan, 7716 Cooley Lake Road, has been there ever since. The store just got it’s pawn shop license renewed by the Waterford Township Board of Trustees.
“We did jewelry, appliances, electronics, small gifts,” Fink said. “We would do special work for people, too. If someone came in and asked for something for $5 we would give them something.”
The business went on virtually unchanged for years until three years ago, when the economy started to take a turn and Fink saw “a need in the community” and asked the township for a pawnshop license.
“When we first applied, the people in the neighborhood didn’t want it, they said it would be blight,” he said. “We invited them down to look at the place and see that it wasn’t what they were thinking.”
He said the common image of a pawnshop is the same as the common image of a pool hall — dingy and disreputable. He invited his neighbors to the store and showed them there weren’t guitars and furs hanging on the walls, gathering dust.
“We’ve always had a precious metals license, and now we can make loans,” Fink said. “The difference is now that someone can come in with something, a watch, and ask what they can get for it or what they can borrow against it. A lot of the people who didn’t want us are our clients now.”
The key to the business, he said, is confidentiality. He said someone might be doing some business, some networking, and find themselves short some amount of money they need to get their business completed. That person can come in, make an arrangement to get cash quickly, and be out the door with no one the wiser about what happened.
“People can come in, get cash and no one needs to know,” Fink said. “I don’t get the same kind of business referrals, but the business is growing because people who have used us refer us to their friends.”
As a side note, Fink mentioned that miners have to move 10 tons of ore to secure one ounce of gold from a mountain. He said the jewelry that is made from pawned gold is more environmentally friendly than new gold because it only has to be melted down and reworked to be good as new.
In addition to Ronnie’s Jewelry and Loan, township officials renewed the pawn licenses for Mega Pawn 3 and National Pawnbrokers Outlet.