Pawn shops have not always been known as the nicest businesses to run or have around, but Rajbir "Ray" Ghaune is looking to change that.
Ghaune, a 20-year-old graduate of Tokay High School's Class of 2010, recently opened Lodi Pawn Jewelry & Loan.
Ghaune was born in Stockton but raised in Lodi.
"I grew up here; my family runs other businesses here," said Ghaune. "I wanted to work here as well."
Lodi Pawn offers locals a place to sell their items for instant cash, or loan their items for cash and redeem them later, as well as a place to purchase goods.
"We are here to help people make money, so I try to offer the customer the best amount for the item," said Ghaune.
Lodi Pawn is the only pawn shop in town and is located on the corner of South Lee Street and Lodi Avenue, next to The Coloring Book.
The building offers Ghaune a well-trafficked site with a great deal on the rent — his family recently purchased the building.
The shop deals in gold, jewelry, electronics, sporting goods and even art. They rarely take antiques, because they do not sell very well in pawn shops.
However, the shop does deal in antique firearms. In the state of California, it is legal to sell antique firearms — those made before Jan. 1, 1899 — without a Federal Firearms License.
Federal and state government agencies also oversee the operation of pawn shops. The state of California requires a written pawn ticket or loan contract, sets a maximum of four months for a loan period, and regulates the principle amounts for the loans, all of which have helped make the pawn industry more legitimate.
Given the present economy, the pawn shop industry has boomed with such TV shows as "Hardcore Pawn" and "Pawn Stars." The new popularity of pawn shops has brought Lodi Pawn customers.
The shop does have a few high-priced items in its inventory.
The most expensive item they deal with is gold. The current price per ounce of gold is upwards of $1,500. The shop's second-most expensive item is a .32 caliber revolver dating to 1873. But Lodi Pawn doesn't just deal in high-end items; the shop also offers deals like dollar movies and records.
In the short time the shop has been open, quite a few items have been pawned, Ghaune said.
"The business is helping people pay bills and make ends meet," he said.
Contact reporter Brian Ratto at email@example.com.