Shane’s – The Pawn Shop, Inc
They’re not ‘Pawn Stars,’ but local shops do OKBy Casey Toner
When the economy is tough for everyone else, it still is pretty good for pawnbrokers because people need quick cash when times are tight.
David Schoeneman would know. After all, the owner of Shane’s – The Pawn Shop has been running the family business for 21 years.
The shop, at 413 W. 14th St. in Chicago Heights, specializes in buying gold and jewelry, and pawning both.
Schoeneman is instantly recognizable as the owner because of the giant, three-dimensional, M-shaped pendant that hangs from a chain around his neck. The three spheres suspended from a bar is the symbol of pawnbrokers, based on the family crest of the famous Medici family from Florence, Italy.
The story goes, he said, that Queen Isabella of Spain pawned the royal jewels to the Medicis to finance Christopher Columbus’ journey to the New World.
“And that was the most famous pawn of all time,” he said. “In theory, pawnbrokers could claim we discovered the New World. But that’s hyperbole.”
While there’s been no royal bling coming his way, he has made a few weird transactions in his day as well.
Before his company started taking only gold and jewelry, Schoeneman would take in all sorts of goodies in exchange for cash loans. He once gave a loan in exchange for a comic book: Volume 1, Issue 1 of Spider-Man. There was another time when a customer brought in a fossilized trilobite.
Before the current NFL season started, a customer pawned an uncut set of 1985 Bears season tickets.
“It broke my heart to have that person pick it up,” he said.
In addition to his work in the Chicago Heights store, Schoeneman serves as president of the Illinois Pawnbrokers Association. Through his industry connections, he met the cast of the reality show “Pawn Stars” during a trade show in Las Vegas. They were there to pick up a national award for bringing widespread publicity to the world of pawning.
“The show has as much to do with running a pawn shop as a policeman show has to do with being a policeman,” he said. “Not a lot, but it skews some of the real issues and it’s entertaining.”
With the unemployment rate at more than 9 percent and the price of gold reaching record highs on a regular basis, Schoeneman said he is stocking up on jewelry as well as buying, melting and selling as much gold as he can.
“People’s needs are greater, so the dollar size of loans is increasing,” he said. “Now we’ve reached a point where fewer people are able to redeem loans because of what the economy is.”
Over at Gold Rush, another of the three pawnbrokers in Chicago Heights, gold is purchased for $14 per gram of 14-karat gold.
“Things are kind of tight, and people need money,” partner Alan Svoboda said. “In the jewelry box, if they have a bunch of gold they don’t wear for 10 years, they say, ‘What good is it?’ ”
Svoboda said his business used to take tools in exchange for loans but the construction business slowed down and the once-popular items became harder to sell.
His company, he said, always will be interested in buying gold from customers looking for cash.
“With the United States, the government writes a lot of checks that are not covered, so somewhere down the line, there has to be something wrong with the system,” he said. “They go with the gold because for decades it’s been the thing to go to in rough times.”
Shane’s Pawn Shop, Inc
413 W. Lincoln Hwy
Chicago Heights, IL 60411
E-mail: Shane’s Pawn Shop
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