The rise in popularity of the reality show, Pawn Stars, led to a resurgence in the popularity of pawn shops. Follow these tips when at a pawn shop for buying and selling to help you make the most of your experience and protect yourself from possibly shady practices.
Tips When at a Pawn Shop
How Pawn Shops Work
Basically, pawn shops work as money lenders. Customers bring in items that have monetary value, like jewelry, art, and other items. The pawnbroker then determines of the item’s value and gives the money to the customer, keeping the item as collateral for the loan. The customer must then repay the loan, including any fees and interest, within a specified amount of time, usually up to six months.
If they are unable to pay back the money in time, the pawn shop will retain ownership of the item and can then resell it to other customers. In some cases, pawnbrokers may be able to extend the loan over a longer period, but the customer will have to pay additional fees and interest for this service. If the loan is repaid, the customer may retrieve their pawned items, and the transaction is complete.
In addition to pawning items, customers can also sell their items outright or purchase other items that have been left at the shop. You’ll often find cheaper prices at pawn shops than at traditional retail outlets, so shopping there can help you save money.
Buying at a Pawn Shop
When buying items from a pawn shop, follow these tips to get the best value for your money:
- Do Your Research – It is one thing to know the value of an item if you wish to purchase it brand new, but it is another thing entirely to know that item’s value in a used condition. Some items retain their value better than others, so you want to make sure that you don’t overpay. For example, a diamond necklace will retain more value over time than an electronic item, like a cell phone or laptop. As technology continues to advance, older electronics will be worth less and less. Before you buy anything from a pawn shop, take the time to research the item’s current value, based not just on its features, but also on its physical condition.
- Be Prepared to Negotiate – Every item in a pawn shop will have a sticker price, but that isn’t always the amount you will have to pay. Pawnbrokers intentionally set these prices high, because they expect customers to haggle. Before going into a pawn shop, know how much you should expect to pay for a particular item, and set a maximum amount that you are willing to pay in your mind. Pawnbrokers are expert negotiators, so you will likely need to be aggressive yourself to get a favorable price.
- Have Patience – Keep in mind that pawnbrokers want to move items off their shelves quickly so that they can turn a profit and continue to bring in new items to sell. Because of this, they are more willing to offer lower prices on items that have been sitting there for a while. If, after negotiating, the price for an item you want is still higher than you were hoping to pay, try coming back at a later date. If the item is still there, the shop owner may be willing to let it go for a lower price. Of course, there is the risk that the item you want will no longer be available, but this tactic could help you save a bit of money if done strategically.
- Know the Shop’s Return Policy – Pawn shops sell all items “as-is,” meaning that they will not repair broken items for you. Some shops will accept returns, but it is not common. Before you buy anything, make sure that you understand the shop’s policy with regards to returns or exchanges.
- Check for Authenticity – Some pawn shops verify the authenticity of items that they hope to resell, but others do not. When you are buying an item from a pawn shop, be sure to find out how stringent the shop’s authenticity policies are. You don’t want to pay designer prices for that knock-off handbag. Research the signs of a fake before you shop so that you know what you are looking for. Don’t just take the shop’s word for it that a particular item is authentic.
- Pay with Cash – Having cash at the ready can boost your negotiating power. Pawnbrokers will sometimes be willing to lower the price of an item if you purchase it with cash, rather than with a credit card. Card processors charge fees, so taking payments in cash enable the shop to keep all of the profits. As an added bonus, paying with cash will also help you stick to your budget and prevent you from going into debt.
Selling at a Pawn Shop
At the end of the day, a pawn shop is a business, and its goal is to make a profit reselling your items. Here’s how to get the best price for the items you wish to sell or pawn:
- Know Your Options – Before you head into the shop, know if you plan to pawn or sell your items. There are benefits and drawbacks to each scenario, and only you can make the final decision for yourself. You’ll need to take into consideration a number of factors. You’ll typically get more cash for pawning an item than you would for selling it, because the shop expects to get more money back in interest. If you hope to retrieve the item, though, you’ll likely end up paying more than it is worth to get it back, after you factor in fees and interest charges. If you don’t want the item back or don’t think you’ll be able to repay the loan, selling the item outright will be a more streamlined process. However, you won’t be able to get the item back if you change your mind, unless it is still available for purchase in the shop. With pawning, you can re-pawn an item as many times as you like should you need cash again in the future.
- Get an Independent Appraisal – Some pawn shops will be able to provide a fair appraisal for your items, but others cannot. Take your item to an expert to have a formal appraisal written up before you take your item to the pawn shop. Don’t expect to get the full appraised value, though; the shop will still need to make a profit on reselling your item, so they’ll likely pay you far less than it is worth. A formal appraisal will help you in the negotiation process, though, so it is still useful to have.
- Adjust Your Expectations – Keep in mind that pawnbrokers are not collectors. If you are attempting to pawn items that have sentimental value or that only have value for collectors, you are in for a rude awakening in terms of price. Just because a collector would value your baseball card collection at $10,000 doesn’t mean that a pawn shop will. Keep your expectations in check, and set a minimum price that you are willing to accept before you head into the shop. If the shop refuses to budge on the price, you may have to try to sell your items elsewhere or lower the amount you’ll accept.
- Show Your Items in the Best Possible Light – To get the best value for your items, you need to show them favorably. This means cleaning them and making sure that they work properly before you bring them into the pawn shop. For example, if an item runs on batteries, put fresh ones in so that you can prove to the shop owner that the item works properly. If you still have the original packaging for the item, this can help boost its value as well. Try to put yourself in the shoes of someone who may be buying your item in the future. Customers don’t want to buy dirty or broken items, and neither do pawn shops.
- Pay What You Owe – If you pawn your items, rather than sell them, be sure to make your payments as agreed, including all interest and fees. If you don’t, you may miss your chance to reclaim your item before the pawn shop sells it to another customer. Before entering into a pawn agreement, make sure that you fully understand the details of the contract. A reputable pawnbroker should explain everything to you clearly so that you know what is expected of you. If a particular pawnbroker seems unwilling or unable to answer your questions, you may wish to choose a different shop
Choosing the Right Shop
Not all pawn shops are created equal, so you’ll need to do your research to determine which shop is most appropriate for your needs. Many pawn shops specialize in particular types of items, like antiques, artwork or other specialized items. If you are trying to sell or pawn a specialty item, you may wish to choose a shop that focuses on that area. For example, if you are selling or pawning an autographed football jersey, you’ll likely get more favorable results at a shop that specializes in sports memorabilia, rather than one that mainly buys and sells antiques.
It is also important to note that some pawnbrokers are more reputable than others. To protect yourself against shady business practices, do your research on the pawn shops you are considering. They should be listed with the Better Business Bureau and your local Chamber of Commerce. Online reviews can also be a great source of information. Sites like Yelp, Facebook, and Google give you the chance to see what real people had to say about working with a particular shop. One or two negative reviews may not be anything to worry about, but be wary of any shop that consistently receives poor ratings.
Finally, don’t forget to trust your instincts. If you have a negative impression of a particular pawn shop or the shop’s owner, there is probably a reason for that, even if only your subconscious mind can detect it. It is better to trust your gut than to ignore it and possibly get ripped off or find yourself the victim of predatory lending practices.
Monte de Piedad Is Your Pawn Shop in San Diego
Here at Monte de Piedad, we pride ourselves on our integrity and customer service. Our goal is to help you pawn, sell or buy the items you need as quickly and easily as possible. We recognize that not everyone is familiar with the pawning process, so we’ll take the time to explain how it all works before we ever ask you to sign anything. We’re always more than happy to answer your questions about pawning to ensure that you fully understand what you are getting yourself into.
We buy and sell all kinds of items, from jewelry to electronics to collectibles and more. We welcome you to stop by our pawn shop in San Diego to peruse our current offerings or get a quote for your items. Our selection changes all the time, so be sure to check back regularly to see all of the new things we have in stock. Whether you are looking for something for yourself or as a gift for someone else, you may find just the thing among our offerings.
Our associates are friendly and helpful, and we can assist you in navigating our shop to find the items that will be most appealing to you. We have been voted the best pawn shop in San Diego for the last two years running, and it’s all thanks to our commitment to exemplary customer service. We welcome you to come by one of our shops any time to see for yourself why more local residents choose us than any other pawn shop in the area.