When someone mentions pawnshops to you, you think of one of those run-down little shops with big signs that say Pawn (or Checks Cashed)? The reality is it doesn’t work that way. Pawn shops don’t have to be about poor people scraping the barrel for something for the next meal on the table or a bottle of grog from the wino. Pawn shops have gone upscale and online. More often the fashionable upscale people who use them call them the secured loans business.
You would think that the relentless march of technology would at least leave the humble pawn business alone. There are more and more middle-class and upper-class families (not to mention business owners) who find themselves squeezed for funds in this recession. People aren’t bringing in gold tooth fillings and XBoxes in like they used to anymore.
These new customers bring in diamond earrings and $30,000 diamond engagement-rings. Putting yourself in hock isn’t about being poor anymore. It’s just one more thing that people do – like the money people owe all over the place for luxury goods bought on credit.
The interest you pay for secured loans at pawn shops amount to no more than 20% or so most of the time; that’s cheaper than what you would pay on credit card debt.
With the pawn business going mainstream publicly-traded pawn chains are beginning to clean up their act and to put a little glamour into their stores, taking a hint from the retail industry. Basically, seedy one-off pawnshops are having to dress themselves up a little better just so that they aren’t squeezed out of their business by the newly glamorized rich-people’s pawnshops.
Of course there is the hugely popular reality programs on TV showing how a Pawn Shop really works, this has took the stigma of pawn shops away and into the mainstream high street.
If you happen to have been well off enough at one time that the things you wished to pawn might bring in quite a bit of money, you can even ask some of these new pawn businesses to make a house call or to give you a private appointment so that you don’t have to rub shoulders with the riffraff that comes in dragging dirty old barbecue grills and power tools. You get ushered into a snooty-looking private room of the kind that would remind you of a first-class lounge at an airport.
Most pawnbrokers these days have an online store, like Happy Hockers, a pawnbroker in Sydney, they can courier your Cartier watch, your Gucci wallet or any other high-end goods direct to your door after your purchase