Pawnshops Rise Above Reputation

by Luke Jones  on Monday, Jan. 16, 2012 12:00 am  

But some competition has appeared from large pawnbroker chains, Collier said. "There are at least three publicly traded pawn stocks," he said, "Cash America, First Cash and EZ Pawn. They are corporate stores, if you will."

Those large shops will move into a location they like, buy an existing pawnshop and stick their branding onto it, Collier said. But that's not happening much in Arkansas, it seems.

"We haven't seen some of the publicly held companies really aggressively look at Arkansas," Thomas at Big Brothers said.

"I'm not aware of any of the chains opening in Arkansas," said Dale Barber, owner of United Pawnbrokers in Jonesboro.


Strength of the Business

Arkansas pawnbrokers think their business is healthy, and the main fuel comes from firearms and shiny stuff.

"It's mostly gun and gold," Barber said. "There is quite a bit on the electronics, dollar-wise, but it's mostly guns and gold, about 50-50."

"It has always been jewelry," said Braswell. "Traditionally, the pawn business in the South, especially, would be jewelry or firearms."

No firearms are present at Braswell's Markham shop. He has a whole separate store just for them.

Several factors have also boosted pawnshops in recent years. One of them: The History Channel's "Pawn Stars" reality series.

"I don't think people associate pawnshops today like they did 30 years ago," said Thomas, of Big Brothers. "I feel like the pawn industry as a whole probably garnered a better name for itself based on the reality shows that are on TV right now."



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