Do Pawn Shops really deserve that bad of a rap?

pawn shop chain.Cuz I gotta tell you, I’m not that against pawn shops these days. The whole thing seems fairly legit to me: Person A needs money fast. Person A goes to Pawn Shop with valuable stuff. Pawn Shop gives Person A money in return for valuable stuff. Person B comes in and buys goodies at a cheap cost. What’s so bad about that?

The fact that they have a bad rap makes it all the more interesting to me. This month’s Kiplinger’s Mag featured a story on a “Pawnbroker to The Stars” (April, page 88) and it really caught my attention. Not only is business booming, but celebrities and big ballers are using them more and more too! Here’s one of my favorite clips from the interview, in response to the embarrassment factor:

“I think there is a stigma attached to going to a pawnbroker. But coming to us for a loan against your beautiful six-figure diamond is no different than getting a loan against your beautiful six-figure home. They’re both tangible assets that you own and that you’re leveraging to get cash.”

Yes, I agree! I’d like to think I’d have no problem visiting one if it really came down to it. But then again, my only experiences with them date back to when I was a kid oooh’ing and ahh’ing at all the fancy video games and electric guitars in the place. I’ve never actually purchased, nor sold, anything there – nonetheless taken out a loan. In all honesty I’ve just never needed money *that* bad. Sure I’ve borrowed and taken out loans for stuff like the first month’s rent of an apt. or my college moped, but fortunately life has never demanded I come up with alternative methods.

But let’s pretend it did. Why WOULDN’T I hit up a pawn shop? What’s all the fuss about? I came up with a list of reasons why they seem so bad, and thus why most people probably steer clear. No science behind it, just me comin’ up with my own thoughts on it:

  • They look and feel scary.
  • They’re filled with smoke and scruffy men.
  • The neon signs are reminiscent of Vegas sin-ness.
  • You get less $ for your stuff.
  • If you take out a loan it’s probably at a crazy high %.
  • You’ll probably want to take a shower when you leave.

Put it this way – visiting a pawn shop won’t make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Then again, if you’re in dire need for fast cash, it’s probably the last thing on your mind. You just wanna run in, get your money, and slip out. That leads us to all the GOOD stuff about pawn shops….or at least the only ones I can conjure up right now :)

  • You can get fast cash!
  • You can take out a loan against some collateral.
  • You can pick up some items at a bargain price!
  • They track serial numbers to help cops catch thieves. (so if you’re going to steal, which i’d punch you in the face for, don’t sell the goods to the pawns! Fox news just did a story on it and they will catch you mr.)

All of these play a key part in the success they have – well, at least the first 3. It’s the one place you can get your hands on fast cash w/ not much work. Is it better to sell stuff on eBay or Craigslist, or even take a loan out from a bank? Hell yeah! But again not everyone has the time or options for this. So in these cases the pawn shops play a key role. Plus, you may only need a loan for a short amount of time. So dropping collateral to back up a loan for a few months may be just the thing you need. And the odds you’d pay it back quicker HAS to be in your favor knowing that those scruffy men would keep your stuff and/or go after you! *shiver*

So would I recommend using Pawn Shops? No.
But that’s not to say they could come in handy as a last resort. The truth of the matter is that some people DO need money at times, and they need it fast for whatever reason. I can certainly see their importance to society.

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