Josh Gottlieb is no stranger to the pawn business. The owner of Turlock’s newest shop, Mid Valley Pawn, essentially grew up in the industry, as his parents ran a pawn shop of their own in Sonora. Now, his expertise in the pawn business has enabled him to successfully open the city’s first pawn shop in nearly a decade.
“I’ve always had the interest of getting back into it,” said Gottlieb. “Just over the last four or five years we’ve had this idea to open up a shop and then we found this location, which I’ve always liked.”
Located at 270 W. Main St., Mid Valley Pawn sits at the former home of the Turlock Poker Room, where, coincidentally, Gottlieb used to work.
“I’ve got a little bit of history here,” said Gottlieb. “It’s kind of nostalgic.”
Since its opening on Dec. 26, Gottlieb said that Mid Valley Pawn has already begun to develop a steady clientele of Turlock residents looking for loans as well as selling their personal items. At a pawn shop, the store offers loans in exchange for personal property as equivalent collateral. If the loan is repaid in the contractually agreed time frame, the collateral may be repurchased at its initial price plus interest. If the loan cannot be repaid on time, the collateral may then be liquidated by the pawn shop through sales to customers.
“I think there’s a need for a pawn shop not just in Turlock, but anywhere,” said Gottlieb. “The established clientele is not necessarily the people that you would assume need the most help. It’s not people on their last bit of luck…sometimes it’s a teacher or someone who can’t make it to the end of the month, so we’re here to offer that service to them.”
Those looking to pawn or sell an item bring it into the shop, said Gottlieb, and a price that the shop is willing to loan on the item is determined. Item pricing is left up to Gottlieb’s discretion, who uses the internet and his own expertise to decide how much an item is worth. He often looks up the amount that each particular item is being sold for in other areas and uses that information to make an offer.
In order for Gottlieb to accept an item for pawn or sale, the proposed seller must have a valid identification card in order to complete the transaction. A description of the seller along with a description of the item, such as the make, model and serial number, are then submitted electronically to the Turlock Police Department.
“We do this so that we’re not dealing any stolen goods,” said Gottlieb, who added that the shop has not encountered any stolen property yet.
If a customer leaves an item at the shop in return for a loan, he or she has four months plus an additional 10-day grace period to return to the shop and buy the item back. If the customer does not return within the allotted time, Mid Valley Pawn sends them a reminder letter but is then free to sell the item themselves.
“I think once we get up and running we’re going to do a lot of loans,” said Gottlieb. “Right now, we’ve been buying a lot more than loaning, but I think that will change once people find out we’re here.”
In addition to loans, Mid Valley Pawn provides a garage sale atmosphere for shoppers, where one man’s junk can turn into another man’s treasure. Items like tools, electronics and jewelry are the store’s best-sellers, said Gottlieb, although the shop is home to a wide array of items which also include musical instruments, sporting equipment and even a motorized bicycle. With time, Gottlieb hopes that the store’s inventory will increase.
“We’re still trying to get our name out there and figure out what the community is looking for and what’s prevalent,” he said.
There are benefits to hunting for items at a pawn shop like Mid Valley as opposed to a thrift store, he added.
“The discounted prices are the draw for people,” said Gottlieb. “They get items that are in fairly good condition…there’s a lot of money to be saved.”
Those looking for an experience similar to the show “Pawn Stars” at Mid Valley Pawn are out of luck, however. There are no experts to call for Gottlieb, who prefers to use his own judgment on most items.
“A lot of it is made for TV,” said Gottlieb. “We don’t have the most unique items walking in three times a day, but you never know who or what could walk into the store.”
Mid Valley Pawn is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and can be contacted at 209-427-2201. Those interested in pawning or selling are welcome to bring items into the shop during regular business hours.