The Milledgeville Van’s Pawn Mart will be the third store in the chain, with other locations in Macon and Warner Robins.

Milledgeville residents traveling along the busy retail corridor on North Columbia Street have probably noticed activity at the former site of the Golden Corral restaurant next to KFC. Plans are in full swing to turn the location into a new Van’s Pawn Mart. The store has a projected opening time set for some time in November.

Van’s Pawn Mart was founded in 1993 in Macon by Van Dempsey and Allan Ritzer. Van Dempsey is a certified gemologist and had worked for several years at Strauther Harris Jewelers in Houston County when he decided to make a career shift by opening his own business.

Gerrit Dempsey is the area manager for all Van’s Pawn Mart locations. He has been with the company full-time for 10 years and is excited to get the chain’s third store off the ground.

“Currently we have two locations that are fully operational, which are located at 3771 Mercer University Drive in Macon, Ga., and 1001 Russell Parkway in Warner Robins, Ga.,” said Dempsey. “Milledgeville is a wonderful and beautiful city. After having siblings go to college here, we came to find the community to be very welcoming.”

Work is underway to renovate the former Golden Corral. Restrooms are being added, and painting and carpeting changes are being made. According to Dempsey, the crews are working at “making it a comfortable atmosphere for our customers.”

Dempsey describes the business model of Van’s Pawn Mart as “family-owned and operated.” The company website states that Van’s will pay top dollar for any items of value. Those in need of cash are encouraged to ask about the 10/10/10 program of 10% down, 10% minimum, 10 months.

“We cater to anyone that wants to secure a loan by pledging collateral without involving a credit score,” said Dempsey. “We loan on almost anything of value and purchase items.”

Some popular items bought and sold at Van’s Pawn Mart include tools, firearms and sporting goods. They also deal in a variety of electronics, including televisions, computers, tablets, gaming systems and stereo equipment. Van’s also buys and sells musical instruments and equipment. 

One particular area Van’s Pawn Mart takes pride in is its jewelry sales.

“Having a graduate gemologist and four jewelers on staff, jewelry is what we are known to specialize in,” said Dempsey.

The company’s website states that they have jewelry available “for any taste and budget.” The company buys and sells gold, platinum and silver and works with heirloom jewelry and pieces from estate sales as well as contemporary pieces. Both jewelry and watch repair are available. The jewelry experts at Van’s Pawn Mart are also trained to do jewelry appraisals for those needing to find out the value of their items.

When asked what sets Van’s Pawn Mart apart, Dempsey says it comes down to the quality of service they are able to provide.

“Our customers seem to like the way we do business,” said Dempsey. “We strive to be the best at whatever we do in every role because our customers deserve the very best we can deliver.”

Those wishing to learn more about Van’s Pawn Mart can find them online at and on both Facebook and Instagram.

For now, Dempsey is busy getting ready to bring the reputation Van’s Pawn Mart has built in the last 27 years into a new market.

“It is an exciting opportunity in a new area, we look forward to being part of the community,” said Dempsey.

React to this story:


Recommended for you