First Person Singular

(Mike Morgan - For The Washington Post)
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Sunday, March 22, 2009

My husband -- he works here, too -- always says we're changing your non-performing assets into ones that work for you. But still, a lot of people struggle with the guilt of selling something that's part of the family. On the flip side, not everything with sentimental value can be sold, even if it had a big price tag at one point. One man recently wanted to pawn his toupee. It was very expensive, he insisted, and it meant a lot to him. I'm sure it did. And another guy called and wanted to sell his dog's ashes. "Well," he said, "the vase they were in was incredibly valuable, and the ashes just came with it." I told them both that I understood how valuable these items were to them -- priceless even -- and that we couldn't put a price tag on them.

The next TV I buy will be the first one that didn't come from the pawnshop. That breaks my heart and freaks me out. It's like when you buy a car for the first time; I don't know anything about new TVs, [but] that's what happens when your family owns a pawnshop.

I am not a keeper. I don't have an attachment to stuff. But when I was a kid, I was sad because all my bicycles came from a pawnshop. That [feeling] changed in high school, when I had the nicest jewelry at prom. In college when I needed a TV, no worries. [The shop] used to have so many electronics, but now, they're built to be almost disposable. Before I started working here, I didn't truly understand the value of things made to last.

My kids have definitely picked up a pawnshop education. When we sit down to dinner, my husband and I will start talking about what we bought that day, and both kids will ask: "What was the color of the diamond? What was the cut?" I pity the poor man who proposes to my daughter. My husband bought my ring here. Of course he did -- how could he propose if my dad knew he didn't buy the ring from his shop?

Interview by Amanda Long

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