MARK BRADAC IS THE 21st CENTURY PAWNMASTER
and is one of the stars of Pawnathon Canada
PAWNATHON CANADA TO RETURN IN 2012 WITH 10 MORE EPISODES!
WINDSOR PAWN MAN HITS HIGH NOTE
April 11, 2012
WINDSOR, Ont. — Pawn Man Mark Bradac is kicking out the jams.
The 56-year-old owner of Windsor’s Economy Exchange taped a video Tuesday of his song 21st Century Pawn Man for the second season of History Television’s Pawnathon Canada.
Bradac is one of five Canadian pawnbrokers and antique dealers who appear on the show each week.
“This is a real series now,” said Bradac during a break in taping at the family pawnshop at 857 Wyandotte St. E.
“Last year, we just did four (shows). This year, we’ve already got 10 in the can.”
The second season resumes in June.
Alongside his more upscale colleagues, Bradac is Pawnathon Canada’s street-savvy small business owner whose clients are ordinary folk in need of lunch money.
“I’m on the front lines,” he said. “Some of the American shows deal with 20-carat diamonds. It’s all big, big, big, big. Here, it’s about people everyday hoping to get cash to feed their kids.”
If Bradac’s the face of hardcore pawn, his song could be the show’s crunching theme. Raw and bluesy, it’s part ZZ Top, part Bo Diddley. Bradac calls it “Mo’ Diddley.”
A film crew from Toronto’s Suddenly SeeMore Productions Inc. swarmed among the display cases Tuesday as Bradac and his band mugged for the cameras.
“I want to take the band and the song on the road in June to promote the show,” Bradac said.
Meanwhile outside, store regulars were shuffling their feet trying to keep warm.
“I’m not a star,” Bradac said. “But I’ve always wanted to be one.”
At one time he figured music would be the ticket.
“Amazing, isn’t it? I’ve been in the pawn business all my life. Who knew?”
© Copyright (c) The Windsor Star
WINDSOR PAWN MAN HITS THE BIG TIME
By Don Lajoie, The Windsor Star July 16, 2011
All you need to know about the character that History Television got when Mark Bradac answered the casting call for their new reality show, Pawnathon Canada, is that the Windsor businessman has been a pawn broker for 44 years.
He’s 55 years old.
Do the math.
Bradac, the self-described Pawn Man, began running his pawnshop, the Economy Exchange on Wyandotte Street East, when he was 11 years old.
The only time he took off from the shop was to be the lead guitarist for the rock band Teaze back in the ’70s.
And Bradac is every bit as brash and loud as the music he played then and aspires to play again.
“Isn’t life crazy?” he asks, perched in his office above a shop cluttered with drums, guitars, watches, paintings and sporting gear.
“I’m sitting on my 17-acre ranch in Amherstburg, the Pawnderosa, pondering life and looking at the stars and all the sudden I get this phone call from out of the blue.
“They said ‘I hear you’re the Pawn Man. Tell us your best stories.’
“It was (History Television). I told them some stories and they said ‘you sound like a character. Can you come to Toronto?’
“Well, I never turn anyone down.”
So, in April, the Pawn Man was off to the Big Smoke, more than willing to chase the dream of reality TV stardom.
When Bradac arrived he was amazed to see what awaited him: About a dozen camera crews, a 200-member production team and a show with a $1.4-million budget.
That would seem about right to handle a character bigger than life, complete with booming voice and laugh, rock star clothing, ponytail and a wit that can veer between self-promoting and self deprecating, often in the same quip.
Bradac wasn’t alone on the show.
There were five Pawnmasters, backed with teams of appraisers to assess items brought in by customers. The idea was to have them set prices, haggle and compete for the choicest articles, offering real money.
The show’s publicity invites participants to come and meet expert appraisers who can “divulge the history and mystery behind your unique collections and potentially offer to purchase them for cash,” with Pawnmasters “going head to head in a battle for the most coveted items … Learn what’s treasure and what’s trash.”
Jonathon Dueck, series producer, said the items on the show are fascinating, ranging from a civil war pistol and antique art to Bruce Springsteen’s harmonica, brought in and authenticated by a former roadie on the Born in the USA tour.
But what really drives the show, he said, are the characters. He said producers scoured Ontario for pawn brokers, appraisers and collectors who knew their stuff but had personality to offer.
“The items are interesting but a show lives and dies on characters,” he said. “Mark has the backstory, working with his dad as a kid, rock background, and the personality too. He’s larger than life.”
The channel filmed a feature on Bradac in his Wyandotte Street shop.
“My father loved junk but he ended up with too much,” said Bradac. “He decided to open up a store and sell it. Had me up front, fending for myself at 11 years old.”
But Bradac said the story he told them that he believes landed him the spot was about a customer bringing in an urn purported to hold the ashes, prayers and writings of a Tibetan holy man. It had been given to a Canadian diplomat and “ended up in my shop.
“But the urn was empty, the contents missing by the time I got it,” he said. “The guy said he pulled him out and smoked him. Claimed it cured his Hepatitis C.”
During the taping, Bradac said thousands of people
brought items to be appraised. He bought “some stuff,” but a lot of it was too rich for him. He put together his own “Pawn Posse” for consultation, made up of local experts Jeff Ferrari of G. & G. Gold and Coins, Jay Butler, expert on vintage guitars and art appraiser Jim Cvetanovic.
Bradac has always tried to run what can be a heartless business fairly and “with heart,” willing to give his customers a break or the benefit of the doubt on a deadline, offering a fair price.
“To make it worth my while I’ve got to at least double the price. If I make more it’s a bonus … You’ve got to get to know people. After 44 years I know people. I don’t sell stuff when it’s a minute overdue. I’m
here for the long haul.”
He can put his finger on the exact time he decided to give his customers an even break. He was maybe 12.
“A guy came in with a watch,” he recalled. “It was the dead of winter and there was a bad storm, freezing out. I took the watch to my dad and asked how much to offer. He said ‘I don’t like the watch, I like the coat.’
“Sure enough, the guy peels the coat off his back, takes the money and walks out into the blizzard in his shirt sleeves. That effected me forever … I don’t take advantage of people.”
Now Karma has come back to Mark Bradac. “At 55 who expects to get into show business? It gets your blood running, chasing that dream again.”
© Copyright (c) The Windsor Star