Pawn in Sixty Seconds

The Pasternacks have always been willing to lend a hand. Or a foot...

"She knows she can always come here and get fifty bucks," Scott says. And when she's repaid it, "I even deliver the VCR to her house and hook it up."

Some of his services are more modest. "I love flipping coins," Scott says. "Customers love it. If you have fun, they have fun. Everything has its price."

One recent morning at the Lakewood store, Mona had just settled in for her caffeine fix when a customer arrived. So she set down her favorite mug, which featured a prehistoric "Shopasaurus" on the side, and got to work. After the customer left, she reached for her coffee.

 
Jay Bevenour
 
The broker's wild! Fred Pasternack stands before a painting of his family's Larimer Street pawnshop.
Brett Amole
The broker's wild! Fred Pasternack stands before a painting of his family's Larimer Street pawnshop.

"Where did it go? It was just here."

Scott winced.

"Someone made me an offer," he said. "So I sold it."


Last September, the neon sign outside the Pasternack's on Larimer flickered off for good. After 81 years, the time had come to leave the neighborhood.

"It was sad," Mona says. "But it was the right decision. The whole area is nothing but yuppies now."

She put the sign in storage, sold the building "for a good price," taped a note on the door listing the addresses of the Aurora and Lakewood stores.

Fred wasn't there to see it: He and Mona divorced in 1995. She got the pawnshops and he retired, figuring "she could have the headaches." He now spends his time skiing, pulling weeds, following the Broncos, haggling over the price of mountain bikes and chainsaws. He updated his business card to read: "No Job, No Prospects, No Worries." When he needed a wedding ring for his new wife, he visited a pawnshop.

"Naturally," he says. "Once you have it in your blood, it never leaves."

Although he agrees with Mona's decision to close the Larimer store, it's still sad to drive by an empty building where he spent much of his life. An empty building that could one day house retail shops catering to those yuppies.

"It's the end of an era," Fred says.

Not quite.

A while back, a guy walks into the Pasternack's store in Aurora -- this must be a few weeks ago -- and says he needs twenty bucks.

"Okay," says the broker, Dale Robinson. "Whaddya got?"

The guy grins.

"My leg."

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