The Money Mizer story begins in 1980 when the Hunt brothers cornered the silver market and gold was selling at a premium of $900 per ounce.
Robbie Whitten, current President and CEO of Money Mizer Franchises, and his father decide to start a business purchasing scrap gold. The father-son duo assembled seventeen teams to scour the US. The teams would rent rooms and advertise in local classified ads and periodicals weeks before their arrival in hopes of attracting potential customers. The first undertaking was a major success, as individuals from all walks of life lined up bringing their old class rings, broken or damaged necklaces, unused family jewelry, and various other items. One man even brought in a box full of gold teeth!
Their first attempt netted 25 pounds of scrap gold. However, many of the purchases included such valuables as estate jewelry, rare coins, and good, working watches—all of which were worth more than their weight in scrap gold.
Robbie and his father decided to rent a small storefront and bought two showcases to display the items that they did not want to melt down. This marked their entry into the pawn business.
From the beginning, Robbie envisioned the idea of raising the profile of the pawn industry. In fact, early advertisements touted their establishment as “The Only Pawn Shop with Carpeting!!!”
Automation of certain functions of the shop to increase efficiency was also an idea from inception. At the time, no software programs were available for the pawn industry, so Robbie found a software programmer who wrote a program to help the shop automate firearms records, inventory controls, and pawn contracts. This new program allowed Robbie extra time to concentrate on other aspects of the growing business. He continued to work to raise the profile of the pawn business and encouraged his employees to treat all customers with respect and professionalism—the “Gold Standard” to which the company still adheres to this day.
Robbie began honing standard operational procedures to ensure professionalism in the business and compliance with federal, state, and local regulations.
The Business Grows
As Robbie’s ideas grew, so did the business and the need for additional space. The 1000 square foot rented space grew to 3000 square feet. Nestled between two communities—one lower end housing and the other higher valued housing—the shop was in a perfect location for Robbie’s initial concept of a high-end pawn shop.
The customers from the lower end provided the day to day pawn customers, who were seeking collateral loans to serve their financial needs that the traditional banking services failed to provide for them. Robbie knew that luring the higher end customers was the key to expanding the market by increasing sales and the pawn loan interest income.
When the time came for more expansion, the business purchased the building and remodeled and added on to create 5000 square foot space.
The Business Expands
Finally, Robbie felt that it was time for an additional location to complement the original store located in Columbus, Georgia. Twenty years of hard-earned lessons would culminate in a new store located in Phenix City, Alabama, just across the Chattahoochee River. Robbie envisioned a retail space that incorporated the services provided by the pawn industry—part gun shop and part high-end jeweler peppered with the usual pawn shop experience customers seek when looking for “hidden treasures” within the pawned and purchased inventory scattered throughout the store environment. The new building design would incorporate substantial storage space, enabling the store to loan on larger items conventional pawn shops would pass up.
Robbie also focused on the training of the store employees. He believed unsurpassed service and professionalism would set the store apart from other pawn shops. The staff would wear professional dress and be trained in the pawn industry not only to be highly knowledgeable but also to be courteous and accommodating to each and every customer.
With the new location came a new era in inventory control. Robbie retired the old software and signed on with PawnMaster—a relationship that exists to this day.
The endeavor was so successful that a third location was added in Dothan, Alabama in October of 2007.
The Franchise Begins
With the growth of the business came obstacles. The major obstacle Robbie encountered was the lack of good, experienced employees to run and manage the growing business. He had always felt that good, reliable employees were the cornerstone to a successful store. The dilemma faced was how to staff for the kind of growth envisioned for the business.
Franchising was the answer
Previous and ongoing success had already proven that his ideas about the pawn industry made his business extremely competitive within the market. This sterling track record combined with years of experience and established operational procedures catered to the pawn industry combined to make Money Mizer an attractive investment for franchisees looking to be in business FOR themselves but not BY themselves.
The Money Mizer Franchise Expands
The first Money Mizer franchise opened in Auburn, AL in 2010. Additional investors eventually signed on to the concept, as the company expanded to Florida in 2012 and deeper into the Alabama market in 2014. Money Mizer Pawns and Jewelers has now become a reputable name in the pawn industry throughout the Southeast with eight stores scattered throughout Alabama, Georgia, and Florida.