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The jingle of jewelry at a Beverly Hills pawnshop

The chief executive of Beverly Loan Co. says more affluent people than ever need cash this holiday season, although most customers he gives loans to reclaim their expensive jewelry and other items.

December 24, 2011|By Bob Pool, Los Angeles Times
  • Jordan Tabach-Bank, chief executive of Beverly Loan Co., holds an MTV video music award brought in by one of his clients.
Jordan Tabach-Bank, chief executive of Beverly Loan Co., holds an MTV video… (Christina House, For the…)

A Beverly Hills real estate broker is waiting for escrow to close on two upscale properties, but that won't happen until after Christmas.

So what is a powerhouse agent to do to generate some quick spending money for holiday shopping?

This one hocked her diamond Patek Philippe watch at a Beverly Hills pawnshop for cash. She'll reclaim her $15,000 timepiece when the deals close, said Jordan Tabach-Bank, chief executive of 73-year-old Beverly Loan Co.

"Never before have we seen so many affluent people needing cash," he said. "People are in a cash crunch. You can't go to the bank for a loan for holiday shopping."

So that might explain why a Beverly Hills financial manager pawned his wife's six-carat diamond engagement ring so he could reward his staff members with Christmas bonuses this year. And why an elderly woman decided to outright sell her $80,000, circa-1920s emerald and diamond bracelet to the pawnshop so she could buy Christmas gifts for her children and grandchildren.

There's no pawnshop symbol — the signature three balls suspended from a bar — outside Tabach-Bank's office in a South Santa Monica Boulevard office building. But people find the shop anyway. Most of his clients live or work nearby, he said.

Most of the thousands of pieces of high-end jewelry, artwork and collectibles are locked in a bank vault downstairs from the pawnshop. Ninety percent of the items will be returned to their owners, who pay a state-regulated fee of about 4% a month on the loan amount.

"We like to get the ring back on the finger, the watch back on the wrist and the art back on the wall," Tabach-Bank said. "Loans in the $3,000 to $4,000 range are typical in Beverly Hills for the holidays."

Items sold to the store or left unclaimed by their owners are sold by the pawnshop. The number of shoppers looking for deals on jewelry has doubled this holiday season over past years, he said.

There are some pawned items that Tabach-Bank is especially hoping will be reclaimed. Like the 1980 Raiders Super Bowl ring belonging to "a person slightly down on his luck. My hope is the gentlemen will be able to get it back," he said.

The 33-year-old executive acknowledged that for some, "there's a stigma, an embarrassment" to pawn loans. That's unfortunate, since no one bats an eye at someone who is seeking a mortgage for a house, he said.

Nonetheless, pawnshops may be a barometer of the economy. And these days business is booming.

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