Pawn-shop competition takes shape in Scarborough

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SCARBOROUGH — Need cash? You’ll soon have a new way to get some when a young pawn entrepreneur opens his second shop at Dunstan Corner.

Cory Poulin of Saco is preparing to open Golden Tech Trading Post at 582B Route 1. Poulin also owns and operates Platinum Pawn & Loan in Westbrook.

Poulin said he feels optimistic about Scarborough. He received his pawnbroker’s license from the Town Council last week, and has already started moving in inventory from Westbrook.

“I think (Dunstan Corner is) the perfect spot,” he said in an interview Monday at his Westbrook store. “More wealthy people will be there to buy, but there definitely are people in Scarborough who would pawn.”

In Westbrook, the majority of inventory is power tools and electronics, Poulin said, with a bit of jewelry thrown into the mix. Video game systems have the fastest turnaround, and gold fetches the highest prices.

Poulin said he’ll focus on jewelry and other higher-end products in Scarborough. He said the new shop will have a more retail vibe than the store in Westbrook.

At 22, Poulin may be barely old enough to drink, but that hasn’t stopped him from running a profitable business.

He grew up working for his family company, Roof Pro LLC, in Biddeford. As a teenager, he said, he got into buying and selling on Craigslist and eBay. That’s when he got the resale bug, he said.

So when he graduated from Biddeford High School, he took the money his parents had put away for college and spent it to open Platinum Pawn & Loan. He said he sunk $25,000 into the start-up. 

“At first it’s a lot of money out,” he said, to cover the cost of inventory and displays, licenses, rent and utilities. “After that though, after about three or four months, it’s solid. You’re making money.”

One customer, Dana Hicks of Westbrook, was in the shop Wednesday to pawn some gold. He said he’s a regular of Poulin’s who comes in when he needs a little money at the end of the month for gas or other expenses.

“(Poulin) is honest, not like some other shops,” he said. “This is good for me, and the economy.”

Poulin said he guesses that about 70 percent of his clients are repeat customers. He said about 60 percent of his business is in merchandise taken as collateral for loans. 

Poulin said his success at his age should not come as a surprise to anyone. He has worked hard, he said, and has a good business sense. 

“I see people come in here for loans, and they’re 22 or 23,” he said. “They’re struggling while I’m not. It’s just about motivation. It’s not real difficult, so I try to keep it simple.”

Keeping it simple for Poulin means always looking for a bargain.

A few days ago, he said, he went to a liquidation auction at the Biddeford Lowe’s, which recently closed. He spent $2,600 on marked-down goods like garden equipment and shelving units that he thinks he can sell for about $50,000. 

Poulin’s won’t be the only pawn shop in Scarborough.

Coastal Trading & Gifts, at 426 Route 1, opened in 2010. At the time, the town had no mechanism for distributing pawnbroker’s licenses. Coastal Trading owner Tom Bennett had to convince the town to write a rule. 

Bennett’s shop is less than two miles from where Poulin plans to open. Town Manager Tom Hall said it will be up to the market to decide whether Scarborough can support two pawnbrokers so close to one another.

“It’s like McDonald’s-Burger King, or Coke-Pepsi,” Hall said. “You go head to head and the strong survive. Hopefully that competition will make both of them better.”

Bennett did not return a request for comment by press time, but Poulin was unashamedly bullish about his own prospects.

“I’d hate to take food off his table,” he said, “but when I go in, I do go for the kill.”

Mario Moretto can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or Follow him on Twitter: @riocarmine.

Sidebar Elements

Cory Poulin, 22, stands behind the counter at Platinum Pawn & Loan in Westbrook. Poulin plans to open his second pawn shop, Golden Tech Trading Post, at 582 Route 1 in Scarborough.

Digital cameras, GPS devices, iPods and iPhones for sale at Platinum Pawn & Loan in Westbrook. The shop’s owner, 22-year-old Cory Poulin, plans to open a second pawn shop in Scarborough. The new store, he said, will likely focus on selling jewelry.