We had the good fortune of connecting with Anthony Vanegas and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Anthony, how has your background shaped the person you are today?
Born in El Salvador and raised in Irving, Texas, my upbringing has played an integral role in who I am today. Each time I visit El Salvador, which I try to do at least once a year, I’m always deeply reminded of how different my life could have been. Being raised by hard working, immigrant parents has had a pivotal impact on the way I view work, sacrifice, and success. Watching my parents work multiple jobs, while maneuvering life in a new country and making do with limited resources molded me into a man ready to work for a better lifestyle at a young age. My first job was at the age of 12; I began working at a pawnshop as a translator. That was the beginning of my love of the pawn industry, which I still work in today.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Sunbelt Pawn is a family owned, locally operated small business that has been blessed to grow from one humble location in The Heights area of Houston to twelve stores across Houston and Dallas/Fort Worth. Our main business is providing microloans while we also offering a sustainable retail alternative for the communities we serve.
We strive to rewrite the narrative of the pawn industry and do so by educating those unfamiliar with our industry on how pawnshops are a vital financial solution to the unbanked and underfinanced in our area.
We are proud to do so by aiming to provide the best customer service in the industry. As a way of measuring this, we set the goal of each store reaching 1,000 Google Reviews. We are proud to say that as of now, 33% of our stores have hit this goal. In addition, we are proud to be at a place in business where we can give back and invest in our communities by offering our annual Seguir Adelante Scholarship to local high school students.
Having 30+ years in the industry, I’ve seen many shops flourish because they embrace change, will others have a harder time as they struggle to adapt quickly. Embracing change and surrounding yourself with a strong team has been pivotal in our success. Second only to treating our customers right. Our customers are the reason we’ve been able to stay open for as long as we have – without them choosing Sunbelt as their pawnshop, we wouldn’t be here today.
Contrary to popular belief, the pawn industry is an essential and beneficial one. This was most evident during the pandemic when pawnshops were allowed to remain open because of the crucial loans we provide. Pawnshops are an outlet for families regardless of socio-economic status. Pawnshops provide loans for business owners to make payroll when the week has been slow, for mothers to pay for physicals so that their child can participate in school sports, or for entrepreneurs who need extra funding to get their business rolling. Everyone’s situation is different but what remains the same is that their local pawnshop, like Sunbelt Pawn, is here to help.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Friday night – Dinner at Anamia’s in Southlake
Saturday – Breakfast at Esperanza’s in Fort Worth, walk around stockyards, go pawn-shopping checking out local shops like Sunbelt Pawn in Fort Worth and Haltom city, lunch at Joe T Garcia’s, drive to Bishop Arts district mural hopping and dinner
Sunday – Breakfast at Original House of Pancakes, catch the McKinney Ave Trolley
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
So many people come to mind when I think of how to answer this question. First and foremost, God – He continually covers myself, my family and our business in His unending grace and favor. My wife, Nena, who has known me since elementary school. She is the definition of lifelong partner. She supported me when I stepped into the dream of opening a pawnshop of our own and runs the administrative side of the business. My parents, who backed me in my first year of business in order to buy our first shop and start loaning out money. My uncle, William, who opened the store with me 15 years ago and to this day keeps our operations running smoothly as the Director of Operations of Sunbelt Pawn. Our team, who daily serves our community and strives to change the image of the pawn industry for the better. And finally, Mrs. Joyce and Mr. Bill, who offered me my first job at a pawnshop and John & Brenda for choosing to sell their pawnshop to me 15 years ago.
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