“They think we’re just the typical pawn shop, when really we’re the
– Alan Horwitz, owner of Reliable Loan and Jewelry
by Jessie Ammons
photograph by Travis Long
On the section of South Wilmington Street now defined by a trio of Ashley Christensen restaurants, the looming Red Hat headquarters, and hip new condominium buildings like The Hudson and SkyHouse, neon diamond signs still glow in the windows of Reliable Loan and Jewelry as they have for more than six decades.
Since the ’40s, the collateral loan and pawn shop started by brothers Philip and Abe Horwitz has been in the same spot. The business is still in the family, run today by Abe Horwitz’s grandson, Alan Horwitz, who sells more than pawned goods. “There’s always the stigma of being in the pawn business that will be there until we get people in the door,” Alan Horwitz says. “Then they see all the beautiful jewelry we have. We’re known for diamonds and quality without a crazy markup.”
It was Alan Horwitz’s father, also named Phillip, who turned the family business into a destination for affordable high-end jewelry, from engagement rings to “just because” bracelets. He’d been raised in the store as a boy by his father Abe, and then raised Alan to take it over, and to focus on the jewelry side of things.
“I knew from a young age that what I wanted to do was what my father did,” says Alan Horwitz, who went to New York to earn gemology degrees. “My father built a reputation in this town as a place to come for good deals on diamonds, and I’ve taken the reigns since.”
Today Alan Horwitz battles the pawn shop stigma with the help of a loyal customer base that spans generations. “All of my high school friends came to me for engagement rings. All of my father’s friends and their kids and grandkids come.” The development of downtown hasn’t hurt, either. “Downtown is evolving, and we’ve definitely benefited from that. It’s just a matter of getting people in the door that don’t know what we’re all about.”
307 S. Wilmington St.; reliablejewelry.com