During his time in the pawn shop business, Jay Davies has acquired a very broad range of knowledge on products ranging from diamonds to guns to car audio and musical instruments.
Many visit Murfreesboro Pawn & Gun on a regular basis just to browse the ever-changing inventory and perhaps get a great deal on a power tool, watch, TV or gaming system, CD player, jewelry, DVDs and more, while shopping in an establishment actually owned and operated by a local individual.
Even though he may give the impression of Stone Cold Steve Austin upon first glance, a man not to be messed with, do not be intimidated; Jay’s actually a very friendly guy, always joking around with his customers.
“Ma’am, that guitar really brings out the color in your eyes,” he tells one shopper, who does end up buying the instrument.
Davies had to break it to another customer that what appeared to be a diamond ring was, indeed, a fake.
“Sorry, that’s costume jewelry,” he told the man, who was hoping to get some cash for the ring.
He later talks with a gentleman in the shop about converting an SKS rifle to take AK magazines.
A big part of the shop’s business is gun trade, and Jay is a strong supporter of Americans’ right to bear arms.
“Gun-phobia is a bad thing,” he says. “If you think everybody out there has a gun on them, it would be the most polite society ever. The breaking in the house stuff would stop overnight.”
Encouraging gun ownership rather than making it difficult for law-abiding citizens to own and carry weapons would ultimately reduce crime, he says.
“At least in the South, we have some more reasonable lawmakers, who may be gun owners themselves, and aren’t totally gun-phobic.”
Meanwhile, Davies’ right-hand man, Roy Ryan, prices a piece of merchandise from a customer wanting some cash.
“Seventy-five dollars will work,” the customer says, exchanging his Xbox 360 for cash on the spot.
Another customers enters the store and shows some interest in a stepladder.
“I can’t let it go just yet. I have to hold on to it for someone for a few more days,” Davies tells him.
“I’ll be back to check on it next week,” the man replies.
Murfreesboro Pulse: How did you get into the pawn business?
Jay Davies: I was about 15 years old when my dad started a shop in Lebanon. When I was 16 years old, I started working there.
We had one in McMinnville until the state decided to build a highway through it. (They bought the building).
This is the only one we have now.
I came back from the service about six or eight months after he opened, and I’ve been here ever since, besides about a year in Vegas . . . I needed to sow some oats, but I came back with my hat in my hand and apologized. I asked him to please let me have my job back, and ever since I’ve worked hard not to piss him off or let him down. He’s retired now.
MP: What challenges have you overcome in starting and growing your business?
JD: When we first started in Lebanon, we opened the store up and literally had no money to pay for some of the things we needed to in order to operate the business.
All of the merchandise in the store was literally stuff out of our house—lamps, VCRs, my video game system.
In the pawn business, you have to hold an item for 60 days before it’s for sale. You’re looking at 60 days before you even have a shot at making any money on it. But after 90 days, my dad had the store in the black.
MP: What businesses/people were an inspiration for you?
JD: My dad is an incredibly smart businessman. From insurance setup, dealing with the governemnt, knowing what merchandise to buy, he just knows how capitalism works, how to make money. He’s owned and operated multi-million dollar car dealerships.
My grandfather was also a greart businessman.
Roy’s dad is extremely sharp too. Bayle Ryan, he’s extremely analytical. He got our accounting set up for us, and our daily operating procedures.
Now, I say it’s a two-horse show here; Roy has been here 14 years. He threatened to leave once, and I held onto his leg like a kid and begged him not to go.
I’d take a bullet for Roy.
MP: What’s your favorite part of running your business?
JD: Not working for somebody else.
MP: What’s your least favorite part?
JD: Dealing with the government. It’s ridiculous.
You basically work January through July to pay the taxes; after that, you can make money. But I’m aware of that, and if you want to run the race, you have to pay the entrance fee.
Now, Obama’s trying to raise the inheritance tax to 55 percent. I disagree with that. If I had not bought this store from my dad (which I have), and he passes, I’d have to write the government a check for 55 percent of the store’s appraised value
MP: Who are your customers?
JD: I’ve got everyone from vice mayors (he says as Murfreesboro Vice Mayor Chris Bratcher walks out of the store with his new handgun) to crackheads. Really, I get everything from doctors and lawyers, the chief of police. I’ve done shotgun and pistol transfers for police department staff.
MP: What is your advice to someone starting a business?
JD: Don’t do it.
You think you’re working for yourself, but you’re not. You’re working for everyone else
Don’t fake it, Roy says. A lot of people fake it and go out and buy a Cadillac and act like they are successful before they are, and don’t know what they’re doing.