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Anticipating the deluge

February 11, 2014 - Harry Eagar
A little late — and a lot more illiterate than the predecessors — Barron’s comes to note the arrival of Suttons & Robertsons pawn shop for the rich in Manhattan. Kamaaina Loan blog has already noted the incursion of the newcomer a month ago based on reports in the New York Times and other publications.

In some ways, the Barron’s report is better. It points out that while S&R can claim to have been in business for 250 years, it is really a new enterprise, having been taken over by a much younger, bigger firm with dreams of globalizing a local brand, sort of like what happened to Krispy Kreme donuts, although no doubt DFC Global hopes not to repeat that fiasco.

We like DFC chief Jeffrey Weiss’s characterization of his target customers as people with “lumpy incomes” and intend to steal that. Most of our customers are rather less rich than his but the conundrum of lumpy incomes is just as pressing. On Maui, with the visitor industry pulsing through peaks and bottoms and sides and saddles, lots of working people find that — just like investment bankers waiting for the year-end bonus — the bills arrive before the money does.

Another interesting factoid — of no obvious relevance to us in Maui, though — is that while the uber-rich keep about 9.5% of their richness in tangible things (Aston-Martins, spare houses), that rises to 18% in places like the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and China. It helps to have a handkerchief full of jewels you can stuff in your pocket when fleeing the revolution.

Pawnbrokers and second-hand dealers made a good thing out of the Russian Revolution, as the exiled aristocrats unloaded their Faberge eggs, jewel-encrusted ikons and silver-gilt tea services in Paris, London and New York. A La Vieille Russie (To Old Russia) moved from Kiev to Paris about 1920 and opened a branch in New York in 1934.

It’s still there, across the street from the Plaza, and as late as about 1970, you could still buy the sweat of Russian serfs, once removed; although after three generations the plunder of the oppressed had finally been processed through the digestive organs of the capitalist snake, and the last time Tricia and I were at A La Vieille Russie, it was reduced to selling reproductions of Georgian furniture and there wasn’t an ikon in the joint. (There are some rather pitiful-looking ikons, no jewels, in their online store; but the goose that laid the Faberge eggs is just about dead.)

The article is in Barron’s “Pentadaily,” which is described as “Insights and advice for families with assets of $5 million or more.” It’s a shame Pentadaily cannot afford any copy editors.

We are considering adopting a slogan for the Kamaaina Loan blog. Maybe:

“Insights and advice for families with assets of hard work, lots of children and an Hawaiian heirloom bracelet or two.”

 
 

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