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The light bulb goes off: Allan Jones, the man who would go on to pioneer the modern-day payday industry, sees his future in a shabby shack in Johnson City, Tennessee.

Read the opening to Chapter Three.

I attended the 20th annual check cashers convention at the end of 2008, where I met Tim Thomas , a man delightfully frank about making it in the poverty business as the proprietor of Daddy’s Money Pawn Shop.

Read the opening to Chapter Fourteen.