As the owner of American Jewelry & Loan in Detroit,
Michigan, Les Gold is used to making millions of deals. But the star of the hit
TruTV reality show Hardcore Pawn
scored the best deal of all—working with his kids, Seth and Ashley, in the family
pawn business. We spoke exclusively with Les about his love for the pawn
industry, how your family can push your buttons more than anyone else, and why he
loves waking up in the morning.
I never thought I would write a book. The experience was absolutely
phenomenal. The book talks about my journey, including making my first sale at
7 years old. That ten-dollar deal felt like a million dollar deal to me. You’ll
learn the story of Les Gold. I had struggles with my family, especially my
father. I won’t call it abusive, but it wasn’t a loving relationship. The book
shows people how to fight for themselves. As long as you have a good person
behind you, who in my case was my grandfather, you can do it.
The book goes on to talk about building American Jewelry
& Loan. The book talks about my life, it talks about Hardcore Pawn, and it also talks about business. It
talks about negotiating, and being an employer and developing skills to become
a better employee. You’re going to learn the behind the scenes of how you
develop a business, take an industry and turn it into something mainstream.
The book talks about the emotional side, too. As a
salesperson you want to keep the emotion down, and as a buyer, you want to have
zero emotion so you don’t spend too much. You have to remember your bottom line
and keep your emotions down.
But on the show, we
see that emotions often run high.
We’re in the pawn shop business. People come in with a need.
They’re emotionally charged when they walk through the doors. You don’t want to
pawn Grandma’s ring, unless you know that you’re going to get it back. There’s
a devastation that these people are going through; imagine not being able to
put food on the table or put a roof over your children’s head. Those are some
of the issues that some of my customers are going through.
So how is that for
you, knowing that they are coming with that need? Is it hard sometimes to
separate your own emotions?
Being a human being, sure, it can be hard. But if I get
emotionally involved with each and every customer’s story, my customers would
end up with more money and my employees would end up with nothing because I
wouldn’t be able to pay them as much. We have to keep a real balance of how
much we spend, because there’s an important little factor there called profit
that you have to make on every deal. Ninety percent of people who bring their
merchandise in come back to get it; most people don’t know that. That’s the
case for pawn shops from California to New York.
But getting back to your question, we often find the sweet
spot of giving customers the amount that they actually need. Let’s say you
bring in a TV for $100. If I give you $90, you’re probably not going to come
back because for the $10, it’s not worth it. But if we give customers between
50-60% of the value, we have found that most people can repay that loan, come
back and get their item, and put food on the table.
But speaking of a
sweet spot, I know that there was one time that you paid the asking price or
more, and it was for a dollhouse.
[laughs] Well, that was a different story. That was for my
granddaughter, so that was a whole different ballgame. I ended up paying $2200
for it, which is still in my vault waiting for my granddaughter to get a little
bigger. It’s a beautiful item.
Let’s talk about
working with family.
Let’s not! [laughs] In real reality, I couldn’t be happier
that my children chose to be pawnbrokers with me. I never thought Seth was
going to come into the business. The reason for that is that in the past, pawn
shops had a negative image. And what I’ve done my whole life is to show that
the pawn industry is a legitimate, viable industry. It wasn’t until the late
90s that Seth decided that he would come into the business.
Ashley wanted to be in the business her whole life; she made
her first loan at 9 years old. She had a passion for it; she is at the
forefront, fighting the battles every day. What’s great about her is that she’s
a female in a male-dominated field. You have to have that spark in your eye,
and both kids have that. It’s so thrilling to me. And as a father, I gave them
a clean business. It’s legitimate and legitimized in the American culture now.
Do you see them running
the family business in the future?
It’s sad, but we all die, and I need to make sure that
American Jewelry & Loan survives. Both Seth and Ashley want to prove to me
that they can run the family business. And that drama that you see very
Tuesday, it’s real. Both kids are strong willed, strong minded; they can do it
but I have to guide them. After all, no one has your back like family but no
one can push those buttons to get you out of control like family, too! I think with
Ashley and Seth at the helm, though, we can diversify and expand.
What do you see for
the future of the business?
Well, the first store I had was 1,500 square feet. It was me
in the front with three employees in the back. We were doing five loans a day.
I’ve expanded four times in four different locations until we came to this 50,000
square foot facility with two mezzanines. We recently purchased another
location, too. I see tremendous growth; we’re very visible now because of the
show and because of my book. Seth is doing consulting now, helping other pawn
shops develop into other great stores.
What I liked about
the book is that it’s full of great business advice, whether you’re an employer
or an employee.
You have to love what you do, and more importantly, take
pride in your work. For example, Larry was a homeless guy who I gave a job to. He’s
my janitorial supervisor. He’s fulfilled his obligation to himself; he’s proud
of himself and he goes above and beyond. If I had 50 Larry’s, I would only need
30 employees. It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you give it your best
If you had to say the
one thing about the pawn business that gets you going, that you absolutely
love, what would it be?
Every day when I walk through the door, I never know what’s
going to happen. For me, it’s the thrill of the chase. It’s like the hunt every
day. As an employer, I have employees who are dependant on me to make the right
decisions. If I make the wrong decisions, we don’t make the profit I need. I
have never missed a payment for them; in the past, I’ve pawned my own jewelry
just to make ends meet. For me, it’s the thrill, every single day. I can’t wait
to go to sleep, just so I can wake up the next morning and do it all over
Parents everywhere have fallen in love with bunny siblings Max & Ruby. So we're super excited to feature the author and illustrator of the Max & Ruby book series, Rosemary Wells, on our next cover of Celebrity Parents!
If you grew up in the 80s, you were Wang Chung-ing. The
super popular English musical group comprised of Jack Hues and Nick Feldman had
everybody enjoying their “Dance Hall Days” and hoping “To Live and Die in L.A.”
We caught up with Nick and Jack while they were on their U.S. tour to talk
about Wang Chung, their new album, Tazer Up!, and why performing is now more
meaningful than ever.
Photos: Gabbeli Photography
I loved the new
album, Tazer Up! What can fans expect from it?
Nick: The album has a healthy reference to our past but a
modernism to it, too.
Jack: It’s Wang Chung for the 21st century. We do
have a strong core sound. One of my pet subjects is talking about music in
terms of genre. People will say, “Oh, I really like metal or dance music” but
they’re not talking about the artist. But when Nick and I were first starting
out, we would buy Beatles records, like Sgt. Pepper. All the songs had
different sounds. So The Beatles used genre as a way of projecting their ideas
and framing them. I think our approach with Tazer Up! is similar. From “Points
On a Curve” to “To Live and Die in L.A.” to “Mosaic,” each of those albums has
had a different approach. So I think that’s a Wang Chung hallmark.
I loved the new song,
“Rent Free.” A woman must have inspired that one.
Nick: It was about an ex-girlfriend. She drove me absolutely
mad. [laughs] We’re good friends now, but she did drive me a bit crazy.
As all women are apt to do.
Jack: Yes, I’m trying to think of the ones who won’t, and I
Wang Chung has been
around for 30 years. How do you keep it fresh for yourselves?
Nick: For not doing it for about
20 years! [laughs] We did take a lot of time off. I suppose in the 90s we could
have gone our separate ways, because we had a great run in the 80s. I guess we
wanted to do our own thing, so we went into our own things. I worked with Jon
Moss from The Culture Club and Jack did a solo album. But we reconnected a lot
in different projects but not necessarily as Wang Chung.
Jack: I think being interested in
all different kinds of music helps, too. Nick is into more dance stuff and I
like more jazzy music. Over the years, I’ve hit various periods—like in the mid
90s, I discovered Miles Davis. Although I had heard his music before, I had
never gotten it until then.
What has it been like to tour and leave family behind?
Jack: It’s challenging in some
ways but it’s also healthy to get out of your normal life. When you’re
confronted with something like this, it can be hard, but once you’re out on
tour, you love it. And I love performing so much more now. I don’t know if
that’s growing up a bit or what. In the 80s, we played massive venues and
performed with The Cars and Tina Turner. We were playing 70,000-80,000 people a
night. And even though that’s very exciting, it’s quite isolating in a way. In
the 80s, there was a pressure to deliver, and now, we’re doing it because we
want to. We’re playing sets that we want to play, and playing to audiences that
we can really see. And when you’re getting them, it’s tangible. It’s so much
more real now, and in a way, so much more satisfying.
Nick: People were saying that they
enjoy it more now than they did then, and that’s certainly the way it is for
Maybe it’s the time. You had tremendous success in the 80s, and that’s
a lot to take in in one shot.
Jack: I think we’re not these huge
testosterone, ego-filled people. Well, Nick is.
Nick: I am. [laughs] In a way, we
are defined as people and as a band in our old age, so that pressure when we
were younger was to carve something out.
You already proved it, and now you’re enjoying it.
Jack: Exactly. And the people who
have signed up for it are coming along with it.
Nick: What we’re doing has
something integral to it. So it’s not some cabaret 80s Wang Chung tribute band.
We don’t want to be that.
Jack: We want to be taken
seriously, and Tazer Up! has been doing really well, with both the diehard fans
and the new ones as well. People are loving it; they’re not going to the bar
when the new songs play. [laughs]
Nick: Facebook is something we do ourselves. We love to connect with the fans and
hear their thoughts.
Jack: It’s all about connecting with them, which we can do now
more than ever. Music is an amazing territory to get to know and journey
through. Fortunately with Wang Chung, there’s enough latitude to express it
There's nothing like a little Hardcore Pawn, and we have it! This week's cover celeb is none other than Les Gold. Les, who stars on the hit TruTV show Hardcore Pawn, talks about faith, hard work, and being a family man in this week's issue of Celebrity Parents. It's a must-read!
If you were a teenager in the 90’s, then you undoubtedly
listened to Love Phones. The popular call-in radio show on Z-100 was hosted by
Dr. Judy Kuriansky, who helped troubled teens with their relationship issues—and
also to get advice on sex. Today, Dr. Judy still continues to give relationship
help, not only to couples, but also to nations throughout the world. We spoke
with Dr. Judy at the Museum of Sex in NYC about her projects and how she wants
to empower people through education—and yes, intimacy.
Photos: Gabbeli Photography
Dr. Judy, I grew up
listening to you on Love Phones. Let’s talk about that time in your life, as we
stand in front of a painting of swimming sperm, here at the Museum of Sex in
[laughs] That was a marker time in life doing the Love Phones
show for many, many years. It was so surprising and rewarding to find that it
had such an impact on people who grew up listening to it. At the time, the kids
were in their beds and had the covers over their ears while listening to the
show. They would tell me that they learned so much about life and that they
feel good about themselves now because of the show. That was what I had hoped
would happen, and happily it did. To me, the callers were like my children. I
feel like I’ve been parenting thousands of children all over—I didn’t do the
diapering, but I went through all the pains that parents would go through! It’s
been extremely rewarding.
Where has life taken
you since then?
Love Phones continued from the 1990’s to about 2002. I was
on 4 nights a week. Since then, I have been able to spend a lot of time outside
the country. I helped to develop a camp for orphaned children in Lesotho,
Africa, and teaching the young girls life skills and entrepreneurship. I went
to the U.S. Embassy, and I was talking to a person at the table and a guy
across the table said, “Oh God, it’s Dr. Judy!” This was in Lesotho, Africa.
The Girls Empowerment Program has evolved since then. We’re
thinking about doing it in Ghana and Senegal, too, since it’s a model. I’m also
working on The Global Kids Connect Project; it is a workshop of psychological
healing techniques for kids who are dealing with trauma. I just got back from
Japan where I was on the anniversary of 3/11, which is the anniversary of the tsunami.
The kids made cranes with messages of hope that I will then bring to the
children of Haiti. It shows kids that they are not alone and it helps them to
You’re now helping
people to heal global on a global level.
I figure out the things that need to have happen and then
bring together teams and then I just do it. I don’t wait for money to come in;
most people do it the opposite way. As I was growing up, that’s how I learned
to do it. Do it and the money will come in somehow later. Otherwise, it doesn’t
get done. I found that things could get done even on a small budget, if you
contribute your time and talent. And because I deal with disastrous events, you
Your work is truly a
labor of love.
What drives me is the passion. I like to do things quickly,
focus and finish. I get pleasure out of the doing, and the passion to get it
done and then when it is done, it’s fantastic.
Let’s talk about your
role as author.
I wrote a book in the early 80s so that started it. I then
wrote Generation Sex, which came out
of a lot of the questions I would get on Love Phones. Then I wrote a series of
books like the Complete Idiot’s Guide to
Dating, the Complete Idiot’s Guide to
a Healthy Relationships and the Complete
Idiot’s Guide to Tantric Sex, which I had helped couples with, too, in
order to reach higher states of intimacy in relationships. Then I wrote books
about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. [laughs]
In the end, it’s all
Yes, thank you! That’s how smart you are. It’s the same principles
of relationships. Finding common ground and establishing rapport, communication
and understanding. I’ve been doing a lot of work at the U.N. United Nations through
the International Association of Applied Psychology and the World Council for
Psychotherapy. My life has been eclectic, and some have said that I’m a Renaissance
woman. But all my work dovetails into a better world.
intimacy between couples and the
[laughs] That’s true. It’s building better relationships on
the personal level, interpersonal level, and the global level. I find it all
the same. It’s not just bringing people together but helping them build a
better life and a better world.
Every parent is concerned about their children’s safety.
Alison Rhodes was no exception, until one day her baby passed away from SIDS.
She then dedicated her career to helping other parents learn the best ways to
stay safe—and sane. We spoke with Alison (AKA The Safety Mom) about keeping
your kids safe but still giving them freedom and the top safety tips parents
Alison, you become a safety expert after the loss of your
My mission was born out of tragedy. My first child died of SIDS
in 1997. Childhood accidents are the leading cause of death and most are
preventable. After my son passed away, I thought if I could do something to
help another child, I would be doing something in honor of my son. I went on to
have three more children, and my oldest, Spencer, has intellectual
disabilities. And I realized that the dangers don’t stop once your children are
out of diapers.
With so much information out there, it can be hard to
discern what’s accurate and what’s not.
Absolutely. But I say that every mom is their child’s best
safety expert. My website, Safety Mom Solutions,
is about informing parents so they can get the right information for their
kids. I talk about how moms are good role models and we need to take care of
ourselves. My thing is about keeping families happy, safe and sane. We need the
moms to have good self-confidence so they can pass it along to their kids.
What specific safety
area do you feel the most strongly about?
It really spans safety for children of all ages, but I would
say SIDS prevention. Parents are hyper vigilant when they bring their babies
home, but then they start to get complacent after awhile. Sadly, a lot of baby
proofing happens after something
happens. It doesn’t mean being neurotic, but you have to take healthy steps.
Kids can choke, and furniture can fall on kids. And now with teens, distracted
driving is a huge issue.
You bring up a good
point. We assume that safety issues are really for when kids are younger, but
there are so many as they get older.
to give them freedom, but you need to have a tether, too.
How do you personally
walk that line of staying safe and still giving them freedom?
I’m a real spiritual person. You have to have faith. It’s
instilling safety in them at an early age, and giving them that
self-confidence. It’s communicating why you are doing this and it’s pragmatic
parenting. You have to give them some flexibility; it’s not going to stop the
dings, but it can help prevent the traumatic injuries.
satisfaction do you get from what you do?
I was a high-powered exec at a PR firm and I loved what I
did but then my son died. And as much as I liked what I did, it wasn’t really changing
lives. This is what fulfilled me. I
can go to my kids’ events and activities. I can stop working to help my son
with homework. It takes a village, for sure. But my kids see me fulfilled doing
something that I love. It’s wonderful to wake up loving to work. If you hate
what you do, and then you spend 8 hours a day there and then you come home and
you’re miserable, what are you teaching your kids?
Now you’re a blended
family. What is that like?
My husband walked into a huge package and somehow it all worked.
The kids assimilated well; sure there are sibling rivalries, but it all works.
I loved your book, Honey I Lost the Baby in the Produce Aisle. It’s
a nice blend of advice and personal anecdotes.
My life is out there; it’s a reality show. My father has Alzheimer’s.
I came from an abusive marriage; my son is special needs and my first died of
SIDS. Parents don’t want to share and for me writing is cathartic. I feel like
if one parent doesn’t feel alone or if I can share info, that’s huge for me. I
get so many questions, so I figured if I put it all together, it could help
What are your future
I’m pitching a TV show, a cross between Extreme Home Makeover and Dr.
Phil. I want to get inspirational stores out there, and then I have a new
book called OMG Save Me! The Safety Mom’s
Guide to Understanding Your Teen. I want the book to be a conversation
What’s an interesting
safety tip that people might not know?
I’ve been working with Sylvania on their car headlights. Did
you know that headlights dim 20% each year? So you need to change your
headlights every two years.
What would be your
top 3 safety tips for parents?
Start baby proofing before your
baby comes home. You never know when your child will turn over for the first
time, or start crawling. You want to be prepared.
Be your child’s safety advocate. Be
confident in your abilities to make the right safety decisions for him or her.
So get involved in your school. You know your child the best.
Cyber bullying starts so early.
Teach tolerance at home. Watch the computer at home, and teach them to be good
Well, we definitely had fun tonight--with Wang Chung! The super popular 80's band is the cover story this week for Celebrity Parents Magazine! Jack Hues and Nick Feldman are proper English gents--and still rockin' over 30 years later! Check out their cover story this week in Celebrity Parents Magazine!
This week's cover features American actress (and Southern belle!) Tess Broussard. The co-star of Comedy Central's The Nick Kroll Show spoke with us about celebrity life and being a single mom. Check out Tess' cover story, this week in Celebrity Parents Magazine!