In business, Asmar Akman says honesty is the best policy. “Stay honest, be direct and never go overboard on what you can promise,” says Akman, the 42-year-old jeweler and owner of Pleasant Pawn Shop. “If you say you’re going to do something, you have to do it. Credibility is everything.
This is important when you are in the pawn business, especially in today’s economic conditions. The pandemic and the large-scale job losses that accompanied it have been a source of stress for many residents of Worcester.
This stress has brought many people to the pawnshop, but not for the reasons Akman thought they would. When the pandemic hit, Akman predicted that there would be an increase in the number of people looking for loans, not gold or diamonds, but surprisingly, that was not the case.
After the first round of stimulus was sent out, customers came looking to invest in items of long-term value rather than pledging for immediate cash. “When the stimulus checks were handed out, we saw very few loans made, and on the contrary, there was a big increase in sales of gold and jewelry,” Akman said.
Therefore, demand caused Akman to increase his gold prices. Yet even though it has made his business stronger, Akman says it is important to meet clients with hospitality and empathy.
“I quickly realized that the psychology behind anyone going into a pawnshop is always financial, so there are levels of stress involved,” Akman said. “People think pawn shops are slimy bad places, there is a stigma that goes with this industry. So I tried to change that stigma in terms of not being slimy, not being rude, and not passing judgment on people. People have problems, you have to understand where they come from. When I opened my store in 2005, I had no inventory, just a sign and a smile. Akman shared. “I didn’t see any profit until probably the seventh year. I didn’t have a car for the first five years, I shared a car with my wife. It was very interesting. You sacrifice if you have a dream. It was dynamism, dedication and a lot of customer service ”.
This attitude has not gone unnoticed: Akman has received five “Best of Worcester” awards from Worcester Magazine during his career – three for best pawnshop and two for best gold trade. In 2017, it landed a spot in the “40 under 40” of the Worcester Business Journal.
Akman learned the ins and outs of the jewelry business from his father, Sabri Akman, a Turkish immigrant who owned his own jewelry store, New York Jewelers, for 40 years, previously located at 330 Main St. in Worcester. It was in 2005, when Asmar Akman was working for his father, that he fell on his goal.
“I was hanging out one day and I saw this older gentleman walk up to me and he said, ‘hey, what are you doing? And I say “this is my dad’s store” and the man says “what do you wanna do?” and I said ‘I don’t know, own a bank.’ He says “you don’t want to own a bank, own a pawnshop.” So I said ‘why?’ and he says “it’s like a bank but you lend money on collateral”. So at first I didn’t think about it but then I found out the next day when he came to see me, it was Commerce Bank chairman Barry Krock. ”
Later that year, Akman found a vacant location where he could open his own pawnshop at 334 Pleasant St., where he eventually earned his title of Master Jewelry Designer.
“After learning customer psychology, I thought to myself, let me put on some jewelry. I had heard about the jewelry industry through my father and had contacts on 47th Street in Manhattan. So I had the knowledge, but above all I threw myself into the fire. Then all of a sudden, I went into design mode. Each year I continued to progress and learn more about how to be efficient, I learned the structural engineering behind how parts are made correctly, and from there I fully supported a design section.
After working in direct competition with his father for four years, Akman made a business decision that surprised everyone, especially his father.
“In 2009, I went to my dad and said, ‘I’m going to redeem you, you’re going to come and work for me now.’ And in one weekend I had a few trucks and we emptied his entire store. My mother, Meryem, came too, they worked together for 40 years.
In addition to premium custom jewelry designs and pawn shops, Akman offers a host of other services, from repairs and cleanings to appraisals for insurance companies.
“I educate all the clients I can. I literally explain to them every number I calculate and what it represents. Dimension, weight, karat, cost per ounce and labor. That way I can give knowledge and their best value to my clients. “
According to Akman, investing in commodities like gold and jewelry in the midst of a hostile economy will earn people money in the long run, depending on the willingness to invest in a high-value coin.
“Here’s an example, let’s say five years ago someone bought a necklace that weighed 1000 grams. It would have cost them $ 25K, today that same necklace would cost $ 50K. So now the value of this necklace is $ 50,000 because the price of gold was lower five years ago, and it’s the cycle. Gold, silver, and platinum are all based on the global market. As the economy goes through tough times, such as giving out a lot of stimulus money, the dollar goes down and the price of gold goes up, this is the basic economy. It’s a cycle that always repeats. So when the price of gold per ounce goes up, it means my seller’s cost goes up, which means I have to sell jewelry for more money. Everything is based on the price of gold per ounce. I recommend investing in the heaviest gold or diamond coin because the way to get value for gold and diamonds is by mass. So the heavier the part, you will always get the best yield with more substance, which means you will definitely get more money. If the initial investment is low, the return will not be very high. The earlier you invest in an investment, the more you will get back. Whether it’s gold or a big diamond, you’ll always get your best return on it, ”Akman said.
Yet even though her hard-earned success has paid off in the end, making clients happy is what Asmar Akman enjoys the most.
“The most rewarding part of my job is seeing how much customers love the product. When I design something and the client says, “I never thought it would look so good,” that’s the most rewarding part, you can’t beat that, “Akman said.
For commercial inquiries, contact Asmar Akman via instagram @asmar_jewelz or by introducing yourself.