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Pickwick Pawnbrokers, in Dartford High Street, hoping to win Dartford and Gravesham Business Awards

By Messenger Reporter

Cake sales and face-painting are not the usual image of a money lender.

But it is exactly this kind of thing that the owners believe makes independently run Pickwick Pawnbrokers more like a community hub.

Since 2008, the sharp decline in bank lending to small businesses has lead to financial difficulty for thousands of small to medium-size companies many of which are soundly profitable, but from time to time simply suffer from short-term cash-flow problems.

Alison Gallagher, Sam Stuart, Julie King and director Vincent Way of Pickwick Pawnbrokers

During the height of the gold buying phenomenum, the company put hundreds of thousands of pounds directly into the pockets of Dartford residents who in turn spent this money in local shops and businesses.

About 80% of Pickwick customers come from within five miles of Dartford town centre where the company is based in the High Street.

With a staff of seven, managing director Nathan Finch was full of praise admitting they are the backbone of his business.

He said of his 10-year old firm: “Our staff – and in particular the young women at the coal face retail side of the business – have done a truly brilliant job in promoting us to the local community.

“This includes putting on a number of charity fundraising events outside the store and making cakes, biscuits and treats in their own time to give away to customers. They’ve tirelessly blown up balloons and handed out sweets to children and offered face-painting on a voluntary basis. This resulted in raising a significant sum for Cancer Research.”

The efforts paid off when the company won the National Pawnbrokers Association 2013 Community Contribution Award, beating 2,500 other stores nationwide.

Mr Finch added: “We are proud of our town and area and, as a forward-thinking company with a number of young staff, we feel we have a lot to offer the area in going forward.”

Pickwick Pawnbrokers is one of the entrants in this year’s Dartford and Gravesham Business Awards, which are supported by the Messenger. Each entrant gets a free profile in the Messenger newspaper and online.

This year’s award sponsors are Dartford council, Gravesham council, Barnes Roffe, Kent Business School (University of Kent), the KM Group (Dartford Messenger and Gravesend Messenger), Lloyds Bank, Thomson Snell and Passmore, the University of Greenwich and Edinburgh House.

Entrants must have their main place of business in the Dartford or Gravesham council areas and have been trading for at least a year. The deadline is today (Friday).

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