Naperville pawn shop welcomes all — Naperville Sun March 16, 2009

March 16, 2009

Naperville has a new business along Ogden Avenue whose time has evidently come.

In a city that boasts nearly every enterprise imaginable, Naperville resident Greg Holloway and his partner, Tom Brunzelle, have opened Naperville Jewelry and Loan — a pawn shop, owners say, “with a twist.”

“There are other pawn shops around, but ours is the only one that is a licensed pawn shop, meaning we are licensed as a loan broker,” Holloway said. “We offer loans to people for 30 days at a time, based on collateral.”

Naperville Jewelry and Loan opened in late January and already has been active in terms of merchandise bought and sold, as well as providing a few clients with short-term loans. Holloway, 38, said he ran “a family-owned oil change business” for a number of years before the company went bankrupt, and his partner, Brunzelle, worked for 20 years as a Web site developer. Together, they possess a unique synergy.

“I am not an expert by any means in terms of appraising the value of things, but I spent time collecting certain items when I was young and understand some things about the auction business,” Holloway said. “Tom was the guy who linked our store and its Web page up to eBay, and he knows how to track all of our data in terms of sales and merchandise.”

So far, Holloway said, jewelry has been the leading item customers have bought and sold. But virtually anything can be brought in and used as collateral, as long as it has value.

“We’ve taken in jewelry and gold pieces, of course, but we’ve seen furniture, instruments, antiques, sports memorabilia items, and even an Xbox that we put on Craigslist and received 10 calls on the very same day,” Holloway said. “I have a guy who took out a loan from us using his stereo as collateral.”
Other unusual items have included a Les Paul guitar signed by Buddy Guy, and an old gold coin known as a Krugerrand that Holloway said the owner claimed was brought from East Berlin.

“I have no way of verifying the story about the coin, but the guitar is something I might have to just keep myself or price at a point where no one would buy it,” Holloway said. “I am a guitar collector myself.”

Holloway believes he is seizing the moment in opening a licensed pawn shop, given the state of the economy and the fact that in a city the size of Naperville, it gives customers a simpler, less complicated option if they need short-term cash.

“With a bank, you’re not going to get a 30-day loan, and you have to do all the paperwork and other things in order to get the money,” he said. “Here, if you have a piece of property that has value, you can get the short-term cash you need with a lot less hassle. It’s a much simpler way to keep people liquid.”

Interest and handling fees for loans are regulated by the state, Holloway said, so customers can feel safe knowing there are guidelines that control the licensing. Holloway and his partner believe they have softened the usual perception of the pawn shop and believe customers will find their services timely.

“So far, we’ve seen a lot of the 30 and under crowd and also retired people who have things in their basements they need to get rid of, or they need extra cash,” Holloway said. “We think this is the right idea at the right time.”