Leslie “Les” Gold is a third-generation pawnbroker who hails from a family of Jewish pawnbrokers. He made his first sale at age 7 at his grandfather’s now-defunct pawnshop, Sam’s Loans, on Michigan Avenue in Detroit. He ventured into his first business at 12, selling slices of pizza to his schoolmates. In 1978, Gold established American Jewelry and Loan in the Green Eight Shopping Center on 8 Mile Road in Oak Park, later relocating to a 50,000 square foot building that was formerly a bowling alley on Greenfield Road in Detroit. The business now has 5 locations, 200 employees, and serves roughly 1,000 customers per day. Gold’s family and pawnshops are the focus of the truTV series Hardcore Pawn.
In 2009, independent producer Richard Dominick saw Gold’s TV ads during local commercial breaks of The Jerry Springer Show and approached the Gold family about a potential reality show. While Les’s son Seth was hesitant, Les agreed to allow the cameras to film. The series premiered in August 2010 and drew a record 2 million viewers, with viewership exceeding 3 million by June 2013. Gold’s book, For What It’s Worth: Business Wisdom from a Pawnbroker, published on June 1, 2013, by Penguin/Portfolio, is based on his experience building a successful pawnshop business and provides insight into how anyone can “think like a pawnbroker.” The book ranked #4 on The New York Times Best Seller list in the Advice, How-to, and Miscellaneous category and #8 in the Hardcover Business Books category in July 2013.
Gold’s pawnshop-themed restaurant, Gold Cash Gold, will be established at the old Sam’s Loans building on Michigan Avenue in Detroit, which is undergoing renovation.
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Les Gold Children
Les Gold, the popular pawnbroker and TV personality, has two children with his wife, Lilli Gold. Their children are a son named Seth Gold and a daughter named Ashley Broad, who holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a graduate diamond certification from the Gemological Institute of America. Ashley has been working at American Jewelry for more than 15 years and is also a co-owner of the business.