Pawnshops Rise Above Reputation

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

"'Pawn Stars' opened up opportunities," Braswell said. "We're excited that there's a depiction on TV showing us in a good light."

And Collier, at Pacer, said the negative stereotypes surrounding pawnbrokers originated from the same place: Hollywood.

"Less than 1 percent of stolen property shows up in pawnshops," he said. "There are local ordinances requiring shops to take information on the people they're buying from for that very reason."

"Pawn Stars," Collier said, has created an influx of new pawnbrokers inspired by the show, but even its positive depiction tends to spread some inaccuracies of its own.

"That's not pawning," Collier said. On the show, "As soon as they ask on camera, 'Do you want to pawn it or sell it?' they cut away. That's because they're buying stuff; then they're making a profit down the road. That's why many people don't understand what the pawn business is like."

Another factor working in pawnbrokers' favor is the rise of Internet-based commerce.

"Commerce on the Internet ... has made competition much more fierce for retail industries across the globe," Collier said.

Pawnbrokers are now able to find the cheapest prices for specific items quickly, Collier said, letting them immediately quote a fair asking price.

Also, eBay and other sites let pawnbrokers find customers willing to buy rarer, more collector-oriented items.

"Anything that comes in the door, whether it is sterling silver flatware sets, designer Lagos pieces, David Yurman pieces, Cartier pieces or anything with a trademark, those are the types of pieces that you'd want to put on eBay," Collier said.

Braswell said he didn't use eBay as much as he once did. "But eBay is very good for selling unusual items," he said, "not so good for the things we deal in mainly. But when someone comes in with an item we've never seen before, we can Google it and put a value on it."

Braswell said unusual items like Super Bowl rings had occasionally come through his shop, but most of the goods were commonplace jewelry, firearms and electronics.



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