[URBAN NOTE] “‘Cashman’ Russell Oliver returns to retail roots with new Yonge St. store”
The Toronto Star‘s Lisa Wright reports on how Toronto pawn shop owner Russell Oliver is diversifying beyond gold to high-end goods. I wonder what the mainstreaming of a pawn shop chain says about the economy.
When you think of Toronto’s “Cashman” Russell Oliver, you probably think of gold trinkets, wads of cash and that annoyingly catchy jingle rather than Hermès handbags or Cartier cufflinks.
In fact you probably consider him kooky more than anything — whether covered head to toe in silver spray paint or dressed as the “Loan Arranger” cowboy in his television ads. But Oliver couldn’t care less.
After 40 years in the gold-buying game, the veteran pitchman from those corny commercials is not only in expansion mode, he’s also changed his tune recently with a return to his retail roots at his new store on Yonge St. north of Wellesley.
“It’s like I’ve come full circle,” he says.
In his decades of buying bling like gold chains (Mr. T was both a customer and appeared in an old commercial) watches, coins and even teeth, and then shipping them off to a refinery for profit, Oliver also set aside some of the nearly new trinkets in his safe because “they were just too beautiful” to send to a smelter, he explains.