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Tips When buying or Selling at a Pawn Store

You may not consider yourself a pawn store customer but think again. According to Pawn Shops Today the average pawn customer is 36 years old and has a household income of $29,000.  Eighty percent are employed in jobs from working construction to healthcare, teaching to childcare.  Thirty three percent are homeowners.  An FDIC study released in February 2011 showed that 32 percent of pawn customers borrow only twice a year.  The average loan made is in the amount of $150 and lasts 30 to 90 days.

Working with a pawn store like Arizona Jewelry and Loan can be a great arrangement for someone in need of quick cash, but not always. As with any other financial dealing you need to be careful.  Pawn stores have come a long way from being unclean establishments found in back alleys with only poor customers.  The average pawn store today is in an average to upscale neighborhood and is clean and bright.

Tips when you have items to pawn 

  1. First you want to find the right pawn store. Start with online internet research if you can. Check out what other people have to say about dealing with pawn shops near you. Remember that people will complain before they will compliment on ‘independent’ websites, but read each comment and look for comments talking about situations much like your own.  Then, select a reputable pawn store and broker you feel comfortable with based on your research.  You may want to go to more than one shop to be able to best compare some of the better sounding pawn stores you saw online.


  1. Remember that some pawn shops specialize in certain items so watch for this during your internet research session. For example, if you have an antique, look for a pawn store that has experience with antique items. Some pawn stores deal in only a few specific items so you don’t want to accidentally go to those if they are not right for your chosen item.  Other pawn stores many deal in a fairly large list of items but exclude a single thing like guns or tools.


  1. Be sure you understand the process of a pawn loan before you enter into one. You are pledging your property as collateral.  In return the pawnbroker is going to lend you money for a set amount of time and a set fee.  If you do not pay the loan on time and do not make arrangements to extend the loan you will lose your item.  A pawn loan will not affect your credit rating, positively or negatively.


  1. Be sure you know whether you are planning on pawning or selling your item outright to the store. Pawn shops will give you the choice. Educate yourself on the options and investigate the ups and downs of each before you go to the pawn store. The decision should be based on a number of things including your ability to repay a loan and the value you place on the item you are pawning or selling. You do not want to get stuck extending your loan, and the associated fees, unless you absolutely must.  On the other hand you do not want to lose something of high sentimental value because you did not pay back the loan.  It will be unlikely for the pawn shop to offer you such a high amount for a pawn loan on an item that you will change your mind and sell the item instead.  Pawn shops want you to repay the loan and take the item back.


  1. Be prepared to negotiate. Remember that pawn store owners are resellers, not collectors. A collector may value your vintage record at $50 but that does not mean that you will get that amount of money from a pawn broker.  Set a minimum price you want for an item ahead of time so you don’t make a snap decision you’ll regret later but be ready for some negotiation as to the final price.  You can also consider going to a few different pawn stores.  Not all pawn shops are the same so prices will vary.


  1. Be prepared to prove your claims. What we are referring to here is that if you are planning on pawning a valuable piece of jewelry, consider having a professional jeweler write up an appraisal of the item so you have outside proof of the piece’s worth. It will make you feel better to have this independent valuation rather than depending solely on the pawn broker’s appraisal.


  1. Come prepared. If the piece runs on batteries, be sure it has fresh functional batteries in it so you can show how the item works. Expect that your item will be tested to ensure that it works properly.  Bring items in their original packaging whenever possible though this is not essential.  Instruction manuals are important if you may not be able to pay back the loan or are planning on selling the item.  Manuals make the item more complete and valuable plus they save the next person from having to try to find instructions online or needing to contact the company for help.


  1. Show your items in their best light. A layer of dust might make sense on an antique, but not on your DVD player. Even on an antique, dust can make the pawn broker wonder how well you have cared for and stored the item and could decrease its value.  Be sure that silver is shiny, not tarnished.  Imagine that you are going to purchase the item—what would you want it to look like?


  1. Always pay on time. If you pawn an item for a loan, be sure to pay back the loan plus interest and fees on time and as agreed. Not doing so will cause you to forfeit your item or extend the loan which will carry additional charges.   A pawn broker is highly regulated as to the amount he can charge for interest, fees, and storage so you will not be “ripped off.”  Remember that the pawn store has overhead costs that must be met in order to stay in business.  Your prompt payment of all monies owed will be much appreciated.



Tips when you plan on buying at a pawn store


  1. First do your research. It really does not matter what the item costs when it is new unless you are actually buying a new, unused item from the pawn broker, which is unlikely. Some items will hold their value much better than others so investigate what is to be expected of your intended purchase. Know the value of an item in its existing condition.   It may help to know what the price is for a comparable item on an online auction site such as eBay or on Craig’s List.  It makes sense to be an informed consumer whether you are buying at a retail store or a pawn store.


  1. Realize that you may want to negotiate a lower price. Every item will have a fee, but the sticker price should just be considered as a starting point. Pawnbrokers have a lot of experience negotiating, so be prepared.  Remember that, in general, the longer an item had been sitting in the store unsold, the more likely the pawnbroker will be to negotiate a lower price with you.


  1. Read all of the ‘fine print.’ Some pawn shops will offer guarantees of authenticity on jewelry and other special or antique items while others will not. Some have lenient return polices while others say “all sales are final.”  Be sure you know what you are dealing with and feel comfortable with the return policy.  Other policies can vary widely, so read any policies associated with your purchase carefully.  Don’t get caught with an unpleasant surprise later.


  1. Pay with cash instead of credit card. The pawnbroker may be more apt to take a lower price if you are paying with cash. Remember that merchants must pay fees to credit card companies so they lose a little of their earnings on an item.  Plus paying with the cash you brought with will guarantee that you cannot go over your set limit and will keep you from accumulating credit card debt that you do not want.


Finally, whether you’re a seller or a buyer, it is worth your time to carefully consider your other possible options before going to the pawn shop. While working with a pawn shop can be easy and convenient, be sure you are happy with the planned collateral loan and associated fees.  Pawn brokers everywhere in the United States are carefully regulated by state, municipal and even federal laws so you should feel comfortable that you will not be charged exorbitant fees and interest.

If you are buying be sure to be a careful buyer, inspecting every aspect of an item before purchasing. Be sure you are happy with buying a used item.  Consider whether you would prefer a similar new item from a retail store.  Of course, with many items buying new is not an option.  Don’t settle for a lesser piece or one with a problem.  Instead, come back to the pawn store in the following weeks to see if the broker gets the thing you are looking for, or try another pawn store.  The stock in a pawn shop is constantly changing.

Staff at Arizona Jewelry and Loan in Scottsdale look forward to helping you whether you are buying, selling, or pawning. We are a full service pawn store