Les Gold, born on June 20, 1950, is a multi-talented American pawnbroker, reality TV star, author, and media personality. He is most renowned for his captivating role on the reality series “Hardcore Pawn,” which aired on truTV and catapulted him into the limelight. Beyond his television fame, Les Gold has an intriguing life story filled with an entrepreneurial spirit, a family legacy, and a commitment to philanthropy.
Early Life and Family Legacy
Les Gold’s roots in the pawnshop business run deep. He hails from a family of pawnbrokers, tracing back to his grandfather, who once owned “Sam’s Loans,” a now-defunct pawnshop on Michigan Avenue in Detroit, Michigan. It was here that a young Les Gold made his first sale at the tender age of 7. This early exposure to the world of pawnbroking laid the foundation for his future career.
In a twist of fate, the building that once housed “Sam’s Loans” was transformed into a pawn shop-themed restaurant named “Gold Cash Gold” in 2014, offering a unique blend of history and culinary delights. Unfortunately, the restaurant closed its doors in 2020.
Les Gold’s entrepreneurial journey began at the astonishingly young age of 12 when he started buying pizzas and reselling them by the slice to his fellow students at Hebrew School. This early venture showcased his knack for identifying opportunities and turning them into profitable endeavors.
In 1978, Les Gold took a significant step by opening his pawn shop, “American Jewelry and Loan,” at the Green Eight Shopping Center on 8 Mile Road in Oak Park. Over the years, his business thrived, and in 1993, he relocated it to its current location on Greenfield Road in Detroit, near 8 Mile Road. The 50,000-square-foot building was formerly a bowling alley but now houses a bustling pawnshop.
Today, “American Jewelry and Loan” boasts multiple locations, employs up to 200 people, and serves approximately 1,000 customers daily. Les Gold’s dedication to his business and industry expertise has been pivotal in its enduring success.
“Hardcore Pawn” and Television Stardom
Les Gold’s journey to television stardom began when independent producer Richard Dominick noticed his TV advertisements airing during local commercial breaks of “The Jerry Springer Show.” Dominick saw the potential for a reality TV show centered around Les Gold and his family’s pawn shop. Initially hesitant, Les’s son, Seth, was eventually persuaded to agree to the idea. The result was “Hardcore Pawn,” which premiered in 2010.
The series garnered immense popularity, attracting over three million viewers by June 2013. It followed the daily operations and unique encounters at “American Jewelry and Loan.” The show catapulted Les Gold and his family into the national spotlight, making them household names.
However, “Hardcore Pawn” faced its final curtain call in 2014 when production was halted, and the series was canceled.
Authorship and Literary Success
Beyond the pawnshop and television, Les Gold ventured into the world of literature. In 2013, he authored the book “For What It’s Worth: Business Wisdom from a Pawnbroker.” This autobiography draws upon his personal experiences in building a thriving pawn shop business and provides valuable insights into entrepreneurship and negotiation.
The book achieved significant recognition, ranking on The New York Times Best Seller list and resonating with entrepreneurs seeking to emulate Les Gold’s success.
Personal Life and Philanthropy
Les Gold married Lilli Gold in 1975, and together they have two children, Ashley Gold and Sethain Gold. His commitment to family values is evident in both his personal and professional life.
In addition to his business ventures, Les Gold is known for his philanthropic endeavors. He supports “The Heat And Warmth Fund” (THAW Fund), an organization that helps local families pay their heating and electricity bills. In 2013, Les hosted a fund-raising event, “Hardcore THAW,” at his store, which raised over $40,000 for the organization.’