Cathie Anderson

Longtime Sacramento pawnbroker relocates inside rival’s shop

Pawnshop owners John Appelbaum, left, and Warren Anapolsky work side by side in Anapolsky’s business, California Loan and Jewelry, in downtown Sacramento on Wednesday.
Pawnshop owners John Appelbaum, left, and Warren Anapolsky work side by side in Anapolsky’s business, California Loan and Jewelry, in downtown Sacramento on Wednesday.

Looking for a retirement strategy, longtime pawnbrokers John and Robin Appelbaum hit upon the perfect exit plan. They would relocate their downtown Sacramento business around the corner – inside their competitor’s storefront.

That is why you now will find a sign for Sacramento Loan & Jewelry as you walk through the door of Warren Anapolsky’s California Loan & Jewelry. Although the two pawnshops have been business rivals since the early 1900s, the Appelbaums and Anapolskys have been friends since the 1960s. Consequently, Anapolsky knew that the Appelbaums’ rent was cutting into their profits and that their lease was coming up for renewal.

“I was talking with John and trying to figure out how he could continue in business,” Anapolsky said. “It dawned on me how my brother and I in 1981 had another inside our store for three years and then sell us his business. For us, that was a great opportunity to grow our loan portfolio and not have to pay for it right away.”

Anapolsky suggested the unusual arrangement to the 68-year-old John Appelbaum, and he accepted. The Appelbaums now have a desk right up front where they make loans, but they pay no rent. If any of the Appelbaums’ customers forfeit their possessions, Anapolsky buys them. If the Appelbaums want to take time off, the staff at California Loan handle their business.

“When you think about it, have you ever seen two banks in one location competing with each other?” Anapolsky said. “Or, could you see Macy’s locating inside Gimbels? Not only have we done it once, but this is the second time we’ve had two pawnshops located in the same business.”

Anapolsky said he and his brother Larry Anapolsky, who succumbed to pancreatic cancer last year, had wanted to acquire Sacramento Loan about 15 years ago, but the circumstances weren’t right. Robin Appelbaum’s father, Sam Siskin, had owned the business at 1027 10th St. Then in his 80s, he still enjoyed

going to work every day. He died in 2012, having owned Sacramento Loan for more than 45 years.

“If anything happened to me,” John Appelbaum said, “I didn’t want my wife to be straddled with a business like this and trying to dispose of it. It worked out for all of us. We have an agreement with Warren to take over our loan business in a few years. It was an exit strategy.”

The Anapolskys have owned California Loan for three generations, and 65-year-old Warren Anapolsky hopes a fourth generation will take the reins one day. His niece Michelle Anapolsky and his cousin Adam Anapolsky now work in the business at 916 J St.

Over the years, California Loan has expanded into other business areas: Advance Check Cashing, founded in 1999, provides customers with money in advance of their paychecks, in exchange for a percentage of the check. A car-equity loan business, established in 2005, makes high-interest loans based on the equity that people have in their vehicle.

In the pawn business, about 95 percent of customers bring in fine jewelry, Anapolsky said, but he’s made loans on some eclectic items – first editions from the printmaker and poet William Blake, a Super Bowl ring and a Pierre-Auguste Renoir painting. There was even a customer who brought in a letter purchased at an auction for $8,000. In the typed letter, dated 1922, an attorney reviews the facts of a complaint with his client, one Joe Jackson, who was trying to collect a check for playing baseball in the 1919 World Series. Heroes fell after that Fall Classic. Shoeless Joe Jackson, Eddie Cicotte and six other Chicago White Sox players were eventually banned from organized baseball for either conspiring with gamblers to fix the series or knowing about it.

The letter was the real deal, Anapolsky said, and the customer paid off the loan to retrieve it. People’s fortunes go through evolutions, Appelbaum and Anapolsky said, and so does the pawn business.

Call The Bee’s Cathie Anderson, (916) 321-1193. Follow her on Twitter @CathieA_SacBee.