The origin of the 3balls name goes back to its humble beginnings as a discount golf pro shop in South Easton, MA.
Joe Ricci and Leigh Bader created a pro shop in 1981 with their savings of $2,000 each and a little bit of inventory. Their business boomed when they decided to open the “Swap Shop” and started taking golf club trades. One of the most highly visited areas of the store, customers spent countless hours looking for that “diamond in the rough.”
Why call the website 3balls?
The Swap Shop was essentially like a pawn store because customers could trade in their used golf clubs and pick another toy for their bag. Looking for inspiration, Joe and Leigh liked the international symbol for pawnbroking. The symbol consisted of three gold spheres hanging from a curved bar. The three balls seemed like the perfect choice for a name.
The origin of the pawnbroking symbol has several different explanations.
The Three Balls Pawnbroking Symbol
The Medici Family
Three balls were originally a coat of arms for the Medicis. This powerful Italian family established a trading and banking empire during the Italian Renaissance. Legend says that one of the Medicis fought a giant and slew him with three sacks of rocks. The three balls later became a part of their family crest, and eventually, the sign of pawnbroking.
House of Lombard
Another explanation for the three spheres comes from the Italian province of Lombardy, which is located in Northern Italy. The success of the pawnbroking business model made Lombard merchants very wealthy. It is said business owners in this region came up the symbol of three gold coins and hung them outside their homes.
St. Nicholas of Myra
Saint Nicholas of Myra was a 4th century Greek Bishop and is the patron saint of pawnbroking. Known for his generosity to the poor, he was said to have given a sack filled with gold coins to three daughters who had no dowry. The dowry ensured the women would find husbands and save them from a life of prostitution. Saint Nicholas Day is December 6th, which is also National Pawnbrokers Day.
Joe and Leigh saw each sphere representing the three essential pawn services: buy, sell, and trade. It just so happens that a sleeve contains three golf balls. The pawnbroking symbol and the number of balls in a sleeve helped create the 3balls name.