What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. This may be the case, but I have taken some thoughts and ideas back to sunny Florida with me.
I’ve been to the NPA before as an active pawnbroker a few years back. Now returning as a sponsor/vendor, I have a much different outlook on the industry as a whole.
For over 20 years, I was a broker that worked for larger corporations as well as independently. I realized recently that being on the inside has given me a clouded judgement of the pawn industry overall, or maybe things have simply changed over the years. Whatever the case may be, the industry is at a pivotal point. Brokers have always been a very competitive, prideful group of individuals with a varied skill set specific to the industry. I cannot think of any other industry where you have to know “a little about a lot” more than in the pawn industry. It is not an easy job to do and even harder to do well.
Watching from behind the table allowed me to take in hundreds of interactions on the Expo floor and view with a non-biased conscience. I observed many different things over the two day show. I watched old friends came together again, first time attendees mingling with seasoned veterans, and rivals putting on their fake smiles to cover up the awkward interaction between each other. None of this is earth shattering news as it’s been a part of the broker’s world for many years. But the one thing that really made me sit back and think was the lack of overall “togetherness” that I saw.
I guess when I was fully in the industry I was so wrapped up in my own little world and focused on what was best for me, that I never saw this side of the industry. I have been told by older, more experienced brokers that this individuality has always been present.
For the sake of the industry, I ask for a truce.
I’m not suggesting to curb your competitiveness or be friends with others that do not share similar interests, but to simply put your individual agendas aside and work towards a greater goal. The pawn industry appears to be at a crossroads. It is a very volatile time with many seasoned brokers handing off their spoils to the next generation of millennials. A firm handshake with a smile now has to be accompanied by a sales pitch in order to ensure revenue for the future.
Times are not changing…..they have changed. And I believe that the industry must follow these changes with some of their own. Let’s put aside all the differences and move towards a united front. There’s plenty of business for everyone, and nothing will change when it comes to that. Those that do it better will get a larger share of the pie, as they always have.
Here are a few suggestions that I feel can make a huge difference within the industry:
- Join the NPA – Be active. Speak your mind(respectfully) and remember to place your individual agenda as “1a”. The number one focus should be what is best for the overall group.
- Embrace the Millennials – This group has the keys to the future. We must teach them the unwritten rules of the industry as well as listen to their thoughts and ideas. Innovation and master mind mentality will serve well.
- Let old wounds heal – Some of the greatest impact people in the industry do not even communicate and are bitter rivals. Can you imagine the power of this industry if all the top owners, operators, and vendors came together and pushed forward as one?
- Community involvement – Don’t just talk about it, do it. Get involved with your local school, sponsor a team, donate some items to a good cause. Show others that the industry is a positive one that helps others.
- Embrace technology – it’s not going away and is not a “fad”.
I look forward to being a part of this industry for many years to come, and look forward to watching it grow as we all know it can. The NPA is our “home base” and we should all do our part to support it all day, every day.