Tri-Cities’ own pawn stars find niche in musical equipment

In the music equipment market? Ed and Moe’s Pawn Shop & Guitar Bar is one store that you want to add to your list.

It has typical pawn shop items – electronics, power tools, jewelry, collectibles – but Ed and Moe’s puts a lot of emphasis on maintaining an extensive inventory of used musical instruments, audio equipment, and a range of new accessories, including homemade guitar effects pedals.

“Think of it like a salad bar,” said owner Russel Del Gesso. “We sell guitars, amps, strings, cables, chords, repairs, setups, a quiet room to try out, an open floor to record and play on. It’s more than just guitars, just music in general. “

While it is not uncommon for pawn shops to sell musical equipment, it is unique to specialize in their sales.

“Tri-Cities is definitely a hotbed for music, live music, karaoke, and more. It has the foundation here, it lives here and it is fine, ”said Del Gesso.

“I’ve always valued live music and entertainment … we want to provide another way to keep this going. Ed and Moe’s is another avenue for musicians, artists, and beginners who want to pick an instrument and get started – an affordable place to do it for anyone and everyone. “

How it works

Because of their thrifty nature, stores like Ed and Moe’s are selling at a discount and are even considering deals.

Although the concept of pawnbroking goes back thousands of years, the popularity of pawn shops has declined with the spread of payday loan businesses.

Pawnbrokers purchase their inventory from those who want to sell, trade, and hand over pawnbrokers directly. A mortgage loan is secured by an object as security.

For example, a person short of $ 100 could go to a pawn shop with an item and ask if it would lend them money in exchange. If this is the case, the person hands over the item as a security deposit.

In Washington, the item can be stored for up to 90 days. During that time, the person who mortgaged it can return and repay the $ 100 plus 4% APR to get the item back.

When 90 days have passed and the person does not have enough money to repay the loan but still wants their item, they can pay the interest and rewrite the loan, starting a new 90 day cycle with the original amount.

A person can rewrite his pawn as often as he likes.

However, if they choose to abandon the item or simply never return it, the law will sacrifice the item as collateral for the loan and the pawn shop can then sell it.

“We take the risk that we will get the money back; We’re out as long as it takes to get the money back, ”said Del Gesso.

The key difference between pawning loans and those offered by payday lending institutions and banks is that pawning loans do not provide a credit report if one fails. There is also no loan application that is anchored in creditworthiness.

“That was our main job,” said Del Gesso. “To provide service to the people who have neither the mortgage nor the car of real value; For example, people who are getting divorced or going bankrupt are offered a financial solution that they may not have from a bank. “

He said customers have been resourceful at using pawns to secure funding for business startups, home renovations, and other large expenses.

“People don’t think about the value of everyday objects,” he said.

Despite the unique service, pawn shops have long been stigmatized as criminal caves in which stolen goods are unloaded.

Tighter regulation of pawn shops, including daily reporting of inventory purchased to a national database accessible to law enforcement agencies, has reduced the trafficking in stolen property.

Del Gesso said although Ed and Moe’s worked closely with the Kennewick Police Department to thwart thieves and match stolen items with rightful owners, there are numerous peer-to-peer resale platforms (like Facebook Marketplace and Offerup) that are trying to find lost items Making objects possible can be more difficult, if not impossible.

He said that both he and Tony Sanders, owner of Ace Jewelry and Loan, would do everything possible to “provide an extra layer of security for our community.”

Growth potential

Store legend has it that Ed & Moe’s was founded in Seattle in the 1920s by two men named Ed and Moe who opened a bathhouse and laundry on the water and later expanded to providing pawn shops for clothes.

Paul Plugoff’s family friend, who owns Ed & Moe’s pawn shop in Yakima, is believed to have bought the business from Ed and Moe’s descendants.

Del Gesso, a Central Washington University graduate in business and organization, saw growth potential in Ed & Moe’s and decided to buy in in 2007.

In 2008, it independently branched out into the 600-square-foot building now inhabited by Just Joel’s in Kennewick.

A decade later, Ed and Moe’s moved to their current 3,300 square foot location on W. Entiat Ave. 419, Suite C, in Kennewick, next to Ace Jewelry and Loan, the only other pawn shop in Tri-City.

“It’s not uncommon for similar companies to coexist … think about it when you buy a car …

The owners of two former local pawn shops, Blue Bridge Pawn of Kennewick and Trading Post of Pasco, have both paid off in recent years, he said.

Del Gesso said he barely manages Ed & Moe’s and employs a crew of four.

“I am very fortunate to have very good employees … (we) always see this as a building block; How can I help you get to the next level? How can I help you start your own business? “

Jay Valdez, who has worked at Ed and Moe’s for the past eight years, said the best part about working there is “working with so many different things – you can’t like just one thing – you have to know a little about a lot . “

Lalo Ruiz, who has been in the business for about two months, said, “It’s cool to see the regular customers come in … you are encouraged to talk to everyone and learn more about the people.” He added that the best part of the job is “making an impression and making someone’s day better”.

Quote from the popular History Channel series “Pawn Stars,Del Gesso said, “You never know what’s coming through that door.”

Valdez said one of the strangest was a laundry basket full of crosses with a mysterious bathroom jar on the bottom. It ended up being full of used cotton swabs.

“That was uncomfortable,” he said.

“The beauty of it is seeing repeat customers, and we try to turn everyone into buyers at a specific point in time – turning people in need into people who are no longer in need but who come back of their own free will for an ongoing one To be a customer. “Said Del Gesso.

Browse Ed and Moe’s Pawn Shop & Guitar Bar: 419 W. Entiat Ave., Suite C, Kennewick; 509-586-7560, Facebook, Instagram. Opening times: Monday-Saturday 9 am-6pm.

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