With his fifth Motor City Pawn Brokers store, owner Mark Aubrey says he has upped the fine jewelry selection to a point where he sees clients of all ages and economic levels coming in to buy the watch or Cartier bracelet of their dreams.
Motor City Pawn Brokers‘ newest location is in Hamtramck, a two-mile-wide “city within a city” in metro Detroit (geographically inside Detroit but a separate municipality) that has one of the most diverse populations in the Midwest, Aubrey says. It also has a clientele that loves fine jewelry brands such as Tiffany, Gucci, and Rolex, he says.
“We’ve come a long way to get to this point, and we’re excited to surprise people with not only the store but our services,” he says.
The new Motor City Pawn Brokers store represents the latest generation of pawnshops: a high-end retail appearance in addition to tradition pawn services. The jewelry area features sleek glass cases filled with natural and lab-grown diamond engagement rings, pendants that can be personalized, and an array of other rings, necklaces, bracelets, and watches in a variety of price points—from Pandora charms to Patek Philippe watches.
Aubrey says that with the auto companies and tech startups in the Detroit area, it has a higher discretionary income level than some might imagine. What people also may not know about is this pawnbroker’s connection with the jewelry industry: Aubrey is GIA-certified, and his staff includes a watch specialist, certified gemologists, and jewelers who do repairs, inspections, and authentication. The pawnshop chain also works with master jewelers in metro Detroit who have decades of experience and can custom design any piece a client wants, he says.
“I always tell people we’re the best-kept secret in town,” Aubrey says.
His staff work diligently to stay on top of the latest jewelry trends, attend weekly training sessions, and continue their education through GIA and other industry groups. Aubrey notes that Detroiters are huge Cartier fans in particular, so he makes sure to carry the locally famous Cartier buffs sunglasses, which are considered a sign that you’ve made it in the Motor City.
“Each one of our stores represent the area in terms of what we carry and what we buy. That’s why we see and respond to trends quickly,” Aubrey says. “We also have people of all ages, like Gen-Z couples where the guy comes in to look at the sneakers and the woman is interested in the lab-grown diamonds.”
Everybody can shop at a pawnbroker, he says, and someone looking at, say, tools or clothing may come to the store with a relative or friend who wants a new piece of jewelry. And for anyone who’s getting worn out by their companion’s browsing in the jewelry department, Motor City Pawn Brokers offers a comfortable seating area where they can rest.
Top: Mark Aubrey, owner of Motor City Pawn Brokers, celebrated the grand opening of the chain’s fifth location on May 14 with special activities and Mother’s Day sales on its fine jewelry. (Photos courtesy of Motor City Pawn Brokers)@jckmagazine
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