DeKALB – Greg Holloway and Dave Franzene are trying to change the face of pawn shops, and want residents to know their new shop, Bridge Pawn, behind the Dairy Queen on Sycamore Road in DeKalb, is family-friendly and open for business.
Holloway, 48, of Sycamore, operated a pawn shop in Naperville for a decade, and when approached by Franzene, 53, who owns Birkshire Center, the strip mall where Bridge Pawn in located, the two agreed to open the shop at 1788 Sycamore Road. Bridge Pawn has been open for three months.
“I always thought it would be a good idea to have a pawn shop here in DeKalb,” Franzene said Monday. “There’s a lot of people that just don’t have access to good credit or immediate cash in case of emergency.
And there’s a whole other market of people that want to get rid of things.”
Once inside the 26,000-square-foot shop, you’re greeted by a tiger rug, a taxidermy black bear and a Willie Nelson life-size model sitting atop a motorcycle.
Giant geodes line the shelves of windows, while guitars line the walls by the front counters, full of old coins, jewelry and trinkets.
“Pawn is a designation of a loan,” Holloway said. “It’s like one of the oldest forms of banking. Throughout history, people have always had some sort of item of value. Then you need money, so you bring in your item of value, we hold it, it goes in the back room, we give you cash right on the spot. That’s when we use the internet to show them what it’s actually worth rather than they think it’s worth.”
Holloway said oftentimes people have “visions of grandeur” in their head when they bring in a prized possession, but often the monetary value doesn’t come out to people’s expectations. Especially digital items because of the ever-evolving nature of products.
“If someone pays $1,000 for a TV, two years later it’s only worth $300,” Holloway said. “So we loan you $150.”
When someone brings in an item to the pawn shop, one might expect bargaining like that on the History Channel series “Pawn Stars.” There’s some of that, Holloway said.
“We have to hold everything for 10 days,” Holloway said. “Everything we buy or do a loan on, we have to take an ID. I report all those items the next day to a database that the police can tie into. So if it’s stolen, they just retrieve it, put it into evidence, and we’re out the money and the item.”
Franzene said in the three months the shop has been open, customers have been surprised by its quality.
“Most people have a different concept about what a pawn shop is,” Franzene said. “Most people come in and say ‘oh, I was expecting something dirty and dark. It’s supposed to smell.’ ”
Because of the already negative stigma attached to pawn shops, Franzene said he had a tough time convincing the city to allow him to move forward to rezone the shopping center into a space that would allow for pawn shops.
“We don’t have guns here, partially because that takes another set of licensing,” Franzene said. “DeKalb used to have a pretty negative posture toward pawn. I approached them and said I’ve had this empty space in the building for a pretty long time, and we’ve got to move forward.”
Those interested can visit Bridge Pawn in person from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays.
Interested buyers can browse and buy inventory at www.bridgepawn.com. Potential sellers can send in photos of their items for an approximate assessment if they can’t or don’t want to bring their item in to be screened.