Childhood & Early Life
Leslie “Les” Gold as born on June 20, 1950, into a Jewish family of Detroit, Michigan, US. He attended 'Oak Park High School.'
He was just 7 when he made his first sale at 'Sam’s Loans,' a defunct pawn shop in Michigan, which was once owned by his grandfather. The pawn shop’s building has now been remodeled into a pawn shop-themed restaurant, 'Gold Cash Gold.'
However, Gold’s full-fledged career began at the age of 12 years. He bought pizzas and sold them to his 'Hebrew School' students.
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In 1978, Gold opened his first pawn shop, 'American Jewelry, and Loan,' at Oak Park’s 'Green Eight Shopping Center' on 8 Mile Road. Later, in 1993, the shop was relocated to its present location, a bowling alley turned into a 50,000-foot building on Greenfield Road in Detroit.
Gold expanded 'American Jewelry and Loan,' and in 2011, he opened its first franchise shop after acquiring 'Premier Jewelry and Loan' in Pontiac, Michigan. Five years later, he opened its second franchise in Hazel Park, Michigan.
As reported by the 'New York Daily News,' on behalf of 'American Jewelry and Loan,' Gold once purchased pathologist and euthanasia proponent Dr. "Death" Jack Kevorkian's infamous 1968 'Volkswagen Minibus' for $20,000.
Gold also owned the ''Deathmobile,'' which he sold at a profit of $5,000 in 2014 only because it was too huge.
Gold’s son, Seth, is a co-owner of 'American Jewelry' and manages its marketing division.
In 1998, Gold's pawn shop TV ads caught the attention of independent producer Richard Dominick, and he offered Gold the chance to collaborate for a reality series featuring his pawn shop. Although Seth was initially reluctant, Gold convinced him later. They became executive producers of the show in its third season.
Following the success of his pawn shop, Gold came up with a reality series for 'truTV,' 'Hardcore Pawn,' to showcase the day-to-day operations of 'American Jewelry and Loan.' Additionally, the rivalry between Seth and his sister, Ashley, was hyped on the show. The series premiered on August 16, 2010, and eventually became one of the most-watched series premieres ever on 'truTV.'
'Hardcore Pawn' ended in 2015, after season 9, as the channel thought it was not appealing to the audiences anymore. The show, however, had two spin-offs on the channel.
One of them, 'Combat Pawn' (originally known as 'Hardcore Pawn: Fort Bragg') was about the employees and customers at the gun shop called 'Guns Plus.' It premiered in 2012. The other one was 'Hardcore Pawn: Chicago,' featuring Chicago's 'Royal Pawn Shop' (2013).
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Gold released his autobiography, 'For What It's Worth: Business Wisdom from a Pawnbroker,' on June 1, 2013. The book was featured at the fourth spot on 'The New York Times Best Seller' list (in the 'Advice, How-to' and the ‘Miscellaneous’ categories). It was also featured at the eighth spot in the 'Hardcover Business Books' category of the same list.
In 2013, Gold’s autobiography and his famous "three simple steps to successful negotiation" were featured on the 'ABC' talk show 'Good Morning America.'
On April 24, 2019, Gold and Seth, on behalf of 'American Jewelry and Loan,' unveiled a new mobile pawn system, 'FastPawn' by 'PawnMate Inc.,' which allowed customers to carry out pawnbroking cash-free and at their convenience.
'American Jewelry' later launched a first-of-its-kind in-store self-service kiosk.
On May 15, 2019, their silver-jubilee day, the youth-serving organization 'Winning Futures' felicitated Gold with a 'Partner of the Year' award for helping them raise funds during their annual live auction fundraiser event, 'Corks & Forks.'
'The National Pawnbrokers Association' (NPA) presented 'American Jewelry and Loan' the 'NPA Outstanding Community Relations Award' in 2018.
Seth and Gold were honored at the 'Annual Awards Luncheon' on July 10, 2018, during the 'Pawn Expo' in Las Vegas.
Family & Personal Life
Gold has been married to Lili since 1975. Their daughter, Ashley Broad, is a producer, a businesswoman, and a co-owner of 'American Jewelry and Loan.' Their son, Seth, is a 'University of Michigan' alumnus.
In 2012, Gold and his family helped the 'U.S. Secret Service' nab Kenny "Boom" Smith, who had once attempted to sell some bogus greenbacks and a counterfeit-making machine to them. Gold soon realized that Smith just wanted fame. Thus, he made Smith feature on his show.
Gold is associated with various charitable causes, too. He supported 'The Heat And Warmth Fund' ('THAW Fund') and organized 'Hardcore THAW' in his store to gather funds for the organization. He often serves as a celebrity auctioneer to raise funds for organizations such as 'Big Brothers Big Sisters' and 'Winning Futures.'
On behalf of his pawn shop, Gold and his family contributed to the charter high school 'The Jalen Rose Academy.' They also financed the ‘Junior Achievement of Southeastern’ for ‘The Gold Bank’ to fund the start-ups of Detroit’s young and upcoming entrepreneurs.