Million Pound Pawn: Sheffield pawnbroker stars in new ITV series as pandemic drives more people to turn prized possessions into cash
A Sheffield business takes a central role in a new television show that promises to lift the lid on the pawnbroking industry.
Million Pound Pawn is a three-part ITV series that aims to ‘reveal the emotional and financial stakes at play’ in what can be a lucrative trade.
Producers say the pandemic has driven more people to use pawnbrokers – who buy items outright, or pay loans if customers offer valuables as security – as a way of generating money.
“From helicopters to houseboats, designer watches to the family jewels, people across the country are sitting on a veritable goldmine of assets, and in the midst of the current economic crisis many are turning to Britain’s pawnbrokers to help transform prized possessions into cash,” ITV says.
“From the well-heeled entrepreneur looking to shore up their business, to the single mum hoping to fund medical treatment for her son, we unearth the real life stories behind those walking through the pawnbroker’s door and how much they are hoping to raise by parting with their valuables.”
One of the firms featured is Sheffield’s London Road Jewellers & Pawnbrokers, owned by Dan Hatfield who has previously starred in Channel 4’s Posh Pawnbrokers and E4’s Super Salon.
He said the pandemic has made his shop ‘much busier but for all the right reasons’.
“When this terrible virus first came about, I feared people would be selling all their items and real hardship would occur,” said Dan.
"Of course, we are all struggling, however what has amazed me is the British public’s resilience. We can help fuel a new generation of small business owners, of those wanting to not just survive but thrive through difficult circumstances.”
Dan said his shop has encountered ‘crazily expensive’ items, ‘weird, wonderful and sometimes downright scary’ things, and customers with poignant stories.
“We’ve dealt with number plates worth in excess of £2 million, we have people asking us to help sell multi-million-pound yachts and we are looking at an art collection worth tens of millions. One lady had a terminal illness and very little time left. She wanted to reunite with her long lost sibling – they hadn’t seen each other in 40 years. This client came to sell her items. She had no regrets selling them and managed to raise enough money to fly abroad.”
Dan is the third generation of pawnbrokers in his family. After university he got a job in marketing and planned to move to Australia, but in the interim his mum asked him to look after the shop as the manager had left.
"It was a stopgap for two weeks before I moved,” he said. “That was 13 years ago and I haven’t looked back. The thrill of the chase where a deal is concerned is what gets me up in the morning.”
He believes a good pawnbroker needs to have humility and must ‘constantly educate themselves’.
“You can’t be expected to be an expert in all areas and so surrounding yourself with experts in different fields is important. Fakes in our industry are crippling and so a good pawnbroker will ensure they know quality when it’s in front of them and be able to easily detect a knock-off as well.”
Million Pound Pawn is produced by Twofour and starts on February 23 at 8pm.