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Struggling Mission Jewelers Turn to Check-Cashing to Survive May 16, 2023 (0 comments)


San Francisco, CA--In the face of declining profits from selling and repairing jewelry and watches, several jewelers in San Francisco's Mission District have found a new lifeline: offering financial services such as check-cashing for those without bank accounts.

[Image via Mission Local]

According to Mission Local, this shift to financial services has saved two local jewelers in recent years. Customers at these stores can exchange their checks for instant cash or finance their purchases, improving their credit score while paying off their jewelry purchases.

"We don't sell much. We cash a lot of checks," said Ramon Gonzalez, the owner of Angie's Jewelry on Mission Street, according to the report. For Gonzalez, check-cashing now makes up 60% of the total revenue at his store, with sales accounting for 30 percent and repair services the remaining 10%.

Gonzalez turned to check cashing when metal prices soared, shrinking the profit margins on gold jewelry. However, offering financial services has also allowed Gonzalez to support members of the community who are unbanked and often face barriers to traditional banking services, including undocumented immigrants.

Across the street, Diana Medina of Diju Jewelry has supplemented her jewelry sales by selling blouses, hats, and scarves. Despite this, she admitted that sales barely cover the business expenses, let alone her salary.

Another local store, Latin Jewelers, has been able to stay afloat by offering customers the opportunity to finance their jewelry purchases. This allows customers to build their credit and incentivizes the unbanked to use their services.

The report states that Nicole Agbayani, director of the city's Office of Financial Empowerment, commended these stores for addressing a clear need in the community. However, she also highlighted the need for more accessible banking services that cater to those currently underserved by traditional banks.

Learn more in the report on Mission Local.

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