Who We Are

In 1982 in San Ysidro, California, a father and his two grown sons set out to positively impact their community by building a business that would serve the people. Money exchange was booming in the area thanks to the world’s busiest border crossing. In the early 1980s, on average 50 million people a year went between Mexico and the U.S. in San Ysidro. The money exchange business grew and was successful.


40 Years of
Granting Wishes

A Few Words About the Adato Family

The Adato Family’s success was defined by personally serving their customers. Through daily personal face-to-face interactions, the Adato Family gained
unique insight into the harsh lives of many of the people walking through their doors and living in the community. Israel Adato recalls helping a mother exchange her pesos for needed cash. She worked two full-time jobs and still could not afford enough diapers for her baby. Soon the word got out that Israel Adato was a trustworthy man, and he met with many people who wished to exchange items of value like jewelry and watches for necessary cash. Together the Adatos added on a new service, pawn.


Without any expertise this new venture was promising, but slow to grow. There was no option to Google “how to start a pawnshop.” They were grinding, day in and day out, learning the trade through trial and error.


Through time, loyalty, and dedication to the community,  they evolved into what is known today as Express Pawn. Their formula is simple; Provide fair cash loans and build long-term relationships with customers who also became family. That concept is now responsible for nine locations across San Diego County. More importantly, it helps thousands find a non-exploitative solution to financial problems.


Express Pawn has been a part of many happy memories, from paying bills, to paying for college, or providing for a daughter’s Quinceañera. Smiles made through Express Pawns services helping a young man buy a beautiful engagement ring at a reduced price to give to the love of his life at a proposal in Coronado. Connections made between a couple through breakfast in bed who partly financed their adventure through a pawn loan from Express Pawn and a diamond necklace given to a mom who deserved the world. Express Pawn has worked toward thousands of these lovely stories.


Here at Express Pawn, the same ethics that built the business back in the 1980s remain firmly in place. We believe in serving the community, treating everyone fairly and without bias, and making dreams a possibility for our friends and San Diego family.