Owner Sees Downtown Nanaimo Operation As The Ultimate People Business
NANAIMO – “It’s the ultimate people business.”
That’s how Colin Jones sees Nicol Street Pawnbrokers, which celebrates its 30th year in business in 2023.
His father-in-law, Pierre Montpetit, started the company in 1993, and Jones left his career as a private investigator two years later to join the firm that he now co-owns with brother-in-law Stephen Montpetit. Jones’ son Brody works at the store now, making it a third generation business.
“We’ve been doing this for 30 years, and we use that ideology all the time that it’s a people business,” says Jones. “We deal with every walk of life, every single day. It all comes down to how we treat people when they come through our doors that sets us apart from other businesses.”
“Pawnbrokers have been around for the past 3000 years. The modern day banking system is based on what we do, every single day,” Jones explains. “We lend money against collateral. We provide non-recourse loans against the items presented to us. There are no repercussions to the customer for non-repayment as the loan is deemed paid at the time it is written. If the customer doesn’t return to redeem their item, then we default and sell it.
“These loans differ from other short term lending products currently available as the rates are much cheaper and they allow the borrower more freedom to manage their debt load.”
Nicol Street Pawnbrokers sells all kinds and shapes of merchandise, as their inventory changes weekly depending on what clients bring in to use as collateral to obtain cash. They also provide a variety of services from jewelry appraisals and repairs to servicing paintball equipment, to refills of CO2 cylinders for keg fridges and popular carbonation systems such as, SodaStream. They have been licensed byers of firearms since 2018, and buy gold and silver and bullion.
“When the economy is tough we see more tools, because we’ve noticed the first things to slow down are the trades,” he notes. “People need gas to get to work, or groceries so that’s the first type of thing they decide to bring in. We’ll get a pile of tools in during slower times, and when the economy picks up, customers come back or we have a good selection to sell”
Jones says they have a saying that covers their best inventory, the 3 G’s: Gold, guns and guitars.
“What this means is we’re constantly looking for items that maintain or appreciate in value. We can always turn gold into cash, and guns and guitars can hang on the wall and they always hold their value,” he states. “A 50 year old Gibson guitar is going to be worth even more in 10 years, and you can’t say the same about that skill saw.”
Nicol Street Pawnbrokers are members of the Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce, the Better Business Bureau and the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, and Jones and Montpetit have participated numerous times in the Big Cheese Charity Classic Hockey event, which raises money for local worthwhile causes.
“We’re the people’s bank when you come right down to it, because if people need money, we’re here for them,” Jones adds. “We offer a unique shopping experience, and you definitely never know what you’ll find here from week to week.”