Brad Rixmann Chief Manager: Pawn America | Payday America | CashPass Network
At just 24 years-old, Brad Rixmann decided to take on a very unique challenge. Inspired by his first visit to a local pawn shop, his entrepreneurial intuition told him he could “do it better.”
At the time, Brad was also living in his very first, very unfurnished house. While in the pawn shop, Brad admits he felt like a kid in a candy store as he filled his arms with items. After walking out of the shop with a television, VCR and stereo, among other things, Brad came up with an idea. He went back into the store to see if the owner would be interested in moving into a vacant building in Eagan owned by Brad’s father, Wayne. The store owner was not interested. In fact, if memory serves correctly, he sternly told Brad, “Leave!”
Instead of giving up on the idea, Brad went across the street from the Bloomington pawn shop with a hand-held counter and began tallying the number of people going in. The result convinced him to pursue plans for his own store in Eagan. After putting his plan through the proper channels, Brad was thrown a curve ball when Eagan’s newly created zoning laws for pawn shops did not include his proposed location.
Brad then went on to plan B: a pawn shop up for sale in Robbinsdale. Initially, the hefty price tag turned Brad away but not long after he initially inquired about the property, it suddenly and unexpectedly became available at a more reasonable asking price. Not only was he able to buy the building at a decent price, he would also inherit a built-in customer base from the previous store which had been there at least 20 years.
“That first store was not only a great opportunity to start my own business, but it also was a golden opportunity to show the property’s customers and the community MY vision of how a pawn shop would be operated,” explains Brad. “From that point on, I wanted to permanently change the perception of the word PAWN.”
Pawn America Opens Its Doors
On August 18th of 1991, Brad opened his first store in the Robbinsdale location. He recalls the first pawn transaction being a Martin Guitar for $70. Today, Brad owns and manages 23 Pawn America stores including one at the very same Bloomington location that started it all. Brad also owns Payday America and CashPass Network. Beyond growing the businesses, Brad’s goals include changing the stereotypes of pawn shops fueled by long-held misconceptions and false Hollywood images. “We are a family-oriented business with more than 200,000 unique customers,” says Brad. “We provide a valuable service to the community.”
Now, almost two decades since the opening of his first store, Brad says he looks forward to transforming his business in the eyes of retail consumers. “I want customers to say, Pawn America is not only a store, it is also my bank,” comments Brad. “We will always continue to recognize opportunities that continue to position us as a leader in our communities and our growing industry,” Brad adds.
Action In The Community
Aside from his business goals, Brad has also pursued important community projects. On Martin Luther King Day in 2007, Brad Rixmann and Pawn America launched a unique partnership with the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Twin Cities. As a former Club kid himself, Brad was familiar with the benefits of the Clubs and wanted to give back by focusing on one area of need: the fact that many kids who attend local chapters of the Boys & Girls Clubs have to go several hours of the day on an empty stomach.
Based on this need, Brad and Pawn America helped create and launch Kids Feeding Kids. In its first year, the program fed 35,000 youngsters at the Jack Cornelius Club in South Minneapolis. This year, Kids Feeding Kids launched its second kitchen at the East Side St. Paul Boys & Girls Club.
PCs for People is another community outreach program Brad supports. The program donates hundreds of refurbished computers to Minnesotans in need. The idea and goal of the donation is to use the equipment, which is outdated for business purposes, and give it a second lease by fixing it up for people who wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to own a computer. Pawn America has participated in the program for several years.
Company efforts also expand beyond our state’s borders and our country. Shortly after the start of the war in Iraq, Brad learned the son of two Pawn America employees was being deployed. He wanted to help out and decided to package and send components of a media library with the soldier. The collection included more than 1,000 DVDs, CDs, video games and movies to entertain and comfort soldiers during their downtime. Since the first installment, Brad and Pawn America have sent components to Iraq for two additional libraries.
This past December Brad forged numerous special relationships when he donated an entire “wish list” of items. From game consoles and widescreen LCD monitors to guitars and MP3 players, a “holiday visit from a local St. Nicholas” was just what the Transitional Care Unit at the University of Minnesota Medical Center-Fairview was hoping for, as program leaders were in desperate need of new technology to help rehabilitate, entertain and inspire patients.
The Hennepin County Sheriff Foundation and Brad’s companies joined forces recently to launch a new initiative which is an independent, nonprofit, charitable entity dedicated to strengthening public safety through youth-based activity programs, prevention, intervention, education, outreach, and 21st century crime-fighting tools and programs. Pawn America and Payday America are founding partners of the Hennepin County Sheriff Foundation and specifically sponsor the organization’s scholarship program.
A Media Resource
Credibility is king when it comes to media resources, thus through his work in the community and other business relationships, and thanks to honors such as National Pawnbroker of the Year while also presiding as President of the Minnesota Pawnbrokers Association, Brad has built an impressive reputation with the media as a “Pawn and Payday industry” expert resource and leader.
Local television affiliates in the Twin Cities (KARE, KSTP, WCCO, KMSP) as well as Minnesota Public Radio, The Star Tribune, Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal and numerous other media outlets have interviewed Brad on various aspects of the pawn and payday industry, his companies and community involvement.
Brad says he is proud of his work in the community and the businesses he has built, which he hopes one day to pass to his sons. For now, he continues to “play in his sandbox” stacking the bricks of a solid, respectful service and reputation he is very proud to call his own.
Brad, his wife and two sons live in Prior Lake. When he isn’t working, Brad likes to be on the golf course. He also admits to daily daydreams of one day owning and flying a floatplane.