From the national pawnbrokers association website:

When it comes to reality television, there’s no question that the pawn industry has been in the spotlight over the last few years. Television shows such as Pawn Stars, Hardcore Pawn, and Pawn Queens have broken numerous records with unprecedented audience ratings and are drawing positive attention to the industry.  But these mega-hits, known for their edgy characters, rock-n-roll sensibilities, and extreme situations, can leave viewers with a lopsided and often unrealistic perspective on the industry. 

Longtime pawnbroker, Nancy Cejudo, has firsthand experience with TV producers and offers a unique take on the reality TV scene. 

A member of the NPA Board of Trustees and owner of
Ben’s Loan in Renton, Washington for over 30 years, Nancy was recently approached by Jodi Flynn of Screaming Flee Productions, a television production team specializing in reality television shows. In her pursuit for the next ratings giant, Jodi has encountered just about everything. 

When Jodi contacted Nancy, Pawn Queens had not aired, and in the wake of the pawn shop reality TV frenzy, Jodi was interested in filming a new reality show about a pawn shop run by women. Ben’s Loan, where Nancy and her 37 year old daughter co-manage the business, seemed the perfect choice.

Jodi spent several days with a production crew filming customers, learning the ins and outs of running a pawn business, and hearing Nancy’s story.

Nancy traces her roots to the financial industry, having been a banker in the 60‘s. She moved to Washington and was offered a better paying job working at a pawn shop. She immersed herself in her newfound career, finding time for a husband and family, and she eventually purchased the shop from the original owners in the 1980’s.

“I really liked working in a pawnshop right from the get go”, says Nancy. “I was a shoe in.” She says she didn’t know any other women in the business at the time, but she never felt different or uneasy about working in the then male-dominated industry.

Fast forward 30 years, Ben’s Loan is a thriving business with an 8,000 square foot space, a considerable selection of firearms, and a steady clientele supplied by the local Boeing company, security guards and other uniformed professionals. 

Over the years Nancy has developed considerable expertise in firearms, and her store houses an incredible selection of guns. She was raised on a ranch, where guns were a ubiquitous and necessary tool.  

“When you’re raised on a ranch, you just think that everyone has guns. We weren’t from a big city and didn’t really know any different.”
With TV cameras following her throughout the day, she treated Jodi Flynn and the crew to a lesson in firearms and taser use. “We all had a wonderful time together for those few days, and Jodi really enjoyed herself.”

After several days of filming, Jodi phoned Nancy informing her that Ben’s Loan wouldn’t make the cut. The official verdict: “She’s just too nice.” 

Jodi explained that while Nancy treated her customers with compassion, her staff was extremely caring and professional, and her customers love her, it’s not the sort of thing that audiences come to expect from reality television. 

“Reality TV will continue to be exactly what it is,” predicted Jodi. “Some shows will be more compassionate than others.” She admits that she came away from the experience with an entirely new perspective on pawn shops.

“It was my first time in a pawn shop, and I would definitely return. It’s a great place to find a good bargain.” 

Nancy, on the other hand, isn’t sorry to have missed her big Hollywood break. She and her staff have worked hard to establish lasting relationships with her customers, even handing out gift cards for groceries and other necessities when times are especially tough. It’s a relationship she and her staff are not willing to sacrifice. Not even for stardom.