Paul Giddings – the man that helped resuscitate the Pawnshop Industry

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Paul Ulric Giddings, or “Sarge”, knows how to make his dreams a reality. He established Hotel Princess Raven on Smyth Street, and has started work that will see the construction of an apartment complex, complete with elevator and the works, in Charlestown. However, Giddings is more known for the resurgence of pawnshops in Guyana in the 1990’s.
At the age of 13, Giddings was already working full time bagging ice cream at a place called Nifty on North Road. He spent a few years doing different jobs until October 30, 1977, when his documents to migrate to the US came through.
After pursuing his high school diploma, Giddings joined the US Marine Corps as a small arms repairman. While he was stationed at a base in Kentucky, he heard about the payday loans. Persons could pledge valuables or other securities, acquire a loan, and then repay the monies at a later date or on payday. He recalled, “I said to myself ‘Guyana don’t have anything like this.’”
In November 1996, he returned to Guyana and launched his pawnshop.
“When I came to Guyana, I had nothing much.But my wife from Barbados and some friends helped out, like Dexter Luther from Luther Pawn Shop, White Castle Fish Shop, Roger Gilgeous from Stereosonic. They were all a part of the pawn shop when I launched it. Roger even sold one of his big motor bikes to help with funds,” Giddings said.
“Pawn shop business in the early days used to be controlled by the Portuguese,” He explained. “When I came, I resurrected the pawnshop business that was dead at the time. I was the first black person to resurrect the pawning business system in Guyana.”
Almost two decades later, Giddings still has the briefcase that he used to take the valuables. “The first shop I opened was located in 34 King Street. The pawnshop basically took care of itself. What happen is that people would bring their jewels and pawn it. I would give them money and they would repay with interest.”
According to Giddings, the pawnshop business has proven extremely profitable. “I am not ungrateful. Everything that I have managed to own is because of the pawn shop business. Giddings is a household name now. ”Today, there are more than 50 pawnshops around the country.
He also launched Giddings Kiddies Corner, the first exclusive children clothing store in Guyana according to him.
However, Giddings was casting his eyes elsewhere. He managed to acquire property on Smyth Street. On it was an old cottage. Eventually, after deep thought, research and consultations, he came up with the idea of a hotel.
Hotel Princess Raven, named after Giddings’s last daughter Raven, was opened just over a year ago. “We are hooked up with and they handle almost 75% of the guests from overseas.”
Across the street from Hotel Princess Raven, lies one of the city’s oldest buildings. Giddings has managed to acquire that property too and he has big plans for it.
“I am right now working on my apartment complex which will host 18 apartments. It will be Guyana’s first apartment complex with an elevator.”
Giddings has grown wise from his businesses. “I believe if you work hard, hold fast and strong to your dreams, anything is possible. It might not always work out picture perfect but hard work pays off.”

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