Eight years of jail was enough for Dave Maley, who was a corrections officer at the 5,000-inmate Santa Clara County Jail in San Jose. He wanted out and to get back to his home state of Oregon.
He graduated from Crook County High School in Prineville in 1982 and from the University of Oregon 1987. The job market was tight in the mid-1990s, so he contacted Gerald Upshaw, a friend who owned three pawn shops in Eugene.
The two discussed opportunities and decided to be partners in a new business in Roseburg. Another friend, who was a real estate agent in Roseburg, helped find a building, and Associated Buyers opened at 443 N.E. Stephens St. in October 1996. The licensed pawnbroker buys, sells and offers 60-day cash loans on pawned items.
Maley and Upshaw’s partnership included an agreement that Maley would buy out his partner within five years.
The decision to move north was made easier when Maley’s wife, Jayne, was hired as a counselor by Roseburg High School.
Maley, who was a four-year starter at defensive tackle at UO and whose degree was in leisure and hospitality, admitted he had no business experience, but his friendship with Upshaw was enough to help him escape further jail time.
“I just wanted out of California,” said Maley, 49. “Because of a friend in the pawn business, opening a pawn shop was a means to get out of California.”
In the early stages of operating the business, Maley said he had more than one or two conversations with folks who expressed pessimism about his business surviving. He had a wide smile while talking about the store’s success. He did buy out Upshaw in the first five years.
“It’s worked out well,” he said, “It’s provided for my family. It’s provided for eight employees and for their families.”
Maley said guns, gold and guitars are the big three of the pawn business. Other popular items are jewelry, tools, electronics, coins, musical instruments and equipment.
“I like to think we pay about as good as anywhere,” Maley said. “Hopefully, it makes everybody happy.”
To pawn or sell, a customer has to be 18 years old or older and have state-issued identification.
Maley and his employees specialize in articles such as guns or electronics, but they also use the Internet and discuss values among themselves when considering purchases. Maley said that the rule of thumb for used items is to be able to sell them for twice the purchase price.
On pawned items, interest is paid when the loan is paid back. The interest varies, depending on the amount of the loan. If the loan is not repaid in 60 days or is not extended, the item becomes the property of Associated Buyers and is put up for sale.
Maley admitted that sometimes the business pays too much for an item, such as a TV that shuts off after being on for 10 or 15 minutes.
He also said the employees have to evaluate some customers and the items they’re offering for sale so as not to purchase stolen goods.
“That does happen,” he said. “But 95 percent of the people that come in are ready to bargain, to negotiate and they’re the nicest people you’ll ever meet.”
Rhandy Van Volkenburg of Roseburg said he visits the store at least once a week to check for guns and tools.
“I’m looking for unique guns,” he said. “I’m kind of a tinkerer, so they might have something I can’t live without in tools. They’ve always treated me right in there. It’s a good group.”
Barbara Nelson of Roseburg visits the store regularly to check out the jewelry and coin cases.
“It’s a fun place to go,” she said. “It’s all about the hunt. You never know what you’re going to find. There’s always a good selection. If you don’t go frequently, you don’t know what might have come in.”
She said one of her purchases was a carved jade bracelet that sold for “probably one-tenth of its value.” She said she checks different sources for jewelry prices and so has some knowledge when looking at the Associated Buyers’ inventory.
Maley said that during the recent recession, he saw an increase in people in need of money walking through the doors, and he also saw an increase in people visiting the store looking for a bargain.
Associated Buyers has done well enough that it’s in the middle of an expansion from 8,500 square feet to 12,000 square feet. The expansion will allow for bigger jewelry and gun areas and for some new products.
Outside of his business, Maley is a coach with the Roseburg Mat Club and with the Roseburg High wrestling team. Associated Buyers is a frequent sponsor of Roseburg High activities.
On several occasions, Maley has put students to work at the store, and he’s also purchased some 4-H project animals, both at auction and for students to raise and sell.
“We’re here for the community,” Maley said. “We’ve been here for 17 years, we expect to be here for another 17 years. The only way to do that is to do things right.”
• News-Review business reporter Craig Reed can be reached by calling 541-957-4210 or by email at email@example.com.