Best Items to Pawn

What do Pawn Shops Buy

When you’re in a hurry for extra cash, a pawn shop offers a fast and easy way to get money from a loan or by buying items outright; but what do pawn shops buy? If you have ever shopped at a pawn shop, you already have a general idea. The items they sell come from the things they buy from other people. These are also the same types of items that they accept for collateral on loans.

What Do Pawn Shops Do with Pawned Items?

A pawn shop offers fast cash on items that people bring into their stores either to sell or to pawn and get a loan. Usually, they are just as selective about what they accept as collateral on a loan as they are about what they buy. That’s because, if the person getting the loan doesn’t repay it within the permitted time, the pawn shop keeps the item to sell as a means to recoup their money.

The majority of people who pawn items return to pay off their loans and retrieve their items. The pawn shop places everything else for sale to keep money coming into the shop. The items offered for sale make up a large portion of the pawn shop’s business. Since their inventory comes from the items they buy and pawn from their customers, they must be selective and choose items of value to their patrons.


Do I Have Anything of Value to Pawn?

For something to be valuable to a pawn shop, it must be top quality and sought after by a variety of people. Many people come to the pawn shop to find things they want at a lower cost than they would have to pay in a retail store. Even if you plan to pay back your pawn loan and take your item home, it must be something that will sell quickly for the pawn shop to accept it as collateral.

The “Big 3” items that nearly any pawn shop buys are electronics, musical instruments, and jewelry. Even within these categories, there are numerous conditions the items must meet to make them valuable.

Other items often bought by pawn shops are power tools, watches, cell phones, old coins, and firearms. Always call to ask what do pawn shops buy before taking these items in, especially firearms. Some may include them as a minor part of their business while others don’t deal in them at all.


The good news is that almost every pawn shop buys jewelry. Many people have some good quality jewelry to sell. Jewelry typically has a high markup when sold in retail stores to help cover the store’s overhead. When it’s sold at the pawn shop, the price is based on the actual value, often making it more affordable to the customer. That means that good quality jewelry is one of the easiest items to sell to the pawn shop.

The bad news is that you aren’t likely to get nearly what you paid for a piece of newer jewelry when you pawn it. If you just paid $1,000 for your gold bracelet, the actual value of the gold might be one-quarter of that. Just be aware that the pawn shop isn’t going to pay you or loan you more than they can get back if they have to sell your bracelet later on.

Most pawn shops also buy diamonds, including those set in jewelry and loose stones. Some limit purchases to those of a carat or larger and/or those of a certain quality or higher. Jewelry made of other precious metals or gems will also fetch a fair price but most do not buy costume jewelry. The only exception is that some shops buy vintage jewelry that is good quality.

One important thing to keep in mind if you pawn jewelry is that the sentimental value to you will not affect the price. Avoid pawning anything that has more sentimental value than it does monetary value.

Many pawn shops specialize in buying gold today. That doesn’t mean they will only take your best gold jewelry. Old pieces with stones missing, broken fasteners, gold coins, and even gold teeth can be sold as scrap! The only factor that determines the value of scrap gold is whether it is 14K, 28K, or something else.

Musical Instruments

Some pawn shops specialize in musical instruments while nearly every store sells them to some degree. People often begin their pursuit of a musical career with the purchase of a new instrument only to lose interest, quickly forgetting their instruments and the money they paid.

Some of the types of instruments seen in pawn stores include electric and acoustic guitars, amps, keyboards, and band instruments like saxophones and tubas. (What parent wouldn’t prefer to pay a lower price for a top quality instrument until they know how long their child’s interests will last?) Instruments should be in top working condition and presentable to get the best price.

A musical instrument is something you might want to sell outright instead of pawning. If you have no interest in playing it in the future, selling could bring you a higher price than a pawn loan. If you opt to pawn it instead and then don’t go back to pay the loan, it could keep you from getting top dollar and you will still forfeit the instrument. Make sure you know whether you want to sell or pawn it before you take it to the pawn store.


At no other time in our history have people relied so much on electronics for their convenience, comfort, and safety. Technology keeps growing, making the newest items obsolete and driving average costs up. If you have extra electronics that aren’t outdated and are in reasonable condition, the pawn shop might want to buy them.

The fact that we all use them makes electronics one of the most sought-after items by and at pawn shops. Getting modern technology at a fraction of the retail cost makes buying electronics at a pawn shop a popular practice.

Big screen TVs, gaming systems with games, computers, and sound systems are all items that pawn shops buy. Since electronics age faster than other items, stick with models that are no more than a year old. They also need to be new or in like-new condition.

Check to make sure everything works and that you have all the parts. No one wants a gaming system without the controller or a TV without the cord. It’s also helpful if you still have the user’s manual.

Before taking your electronics into the pawn shop, clean them up and make them look more presentable. If they aren’t still in the box, they’ve probably collected a little dust. A little effort will go a long way towards making your items presentable.

Brands make a difference when buying new electronics and they affect the price you can get from the pawn shop. Better brands get a better price while those that are at the lower end may be worth less or nothing at all. If you weren’t the one who bought the item originally, do your research to find out whether it’s a name brand item and what its original value was.

The same is true for things like cameras, watches, and power tools. Think Nikon and Canon, Rolex and Ulysse Nardin, Makita and Milwaukee when trying to pawn these items. Also, fill with fuel or make sure the item has a charged battery so the pawn shop can try it out and see how it works.

Of course, no other type of electronic is of more interest than smartphones. Everyone seems to have one in their hand these days. When the newest models come out, selling your older phone might be a good way to make money.

Unique Items

A pawn shop might want an item they don’t usually carry if it is especially unique, rare, and appealing. If you have something different like a record album signed by Elvis or a signed first edition book, give the pawn shop a call. They may be interested in anything their customers want to buy.


Do Your Research

Most people planning on selling an item to a pawn shop for the first time have a specific dollar amount in mind. They know how much cash they need but not which items are likely to fetch the right amount.

There’s plenty of advice online about which items bring in the amount of money you need. Remember that if the item you choose is something you want to get back, you need to come up with the amount of the pawn loan.

Choosing the Right Pawn Shop

Before you consider the issue of what, think about which pawn shop to go to. Although there are many similarities among different stores, there are some features that set them apart. For example, some pawn shops specialize in certain types of items like gold jewelry or musical instruments. If you want to get the best price for your gold bracelet, you don’t want to take it to a pawn shop that specializes in musical instruments or vice versa.

Pawn shops also differ in the prices they offer and the terms they provide on loans. You don’t just want a pawn shop that buys the type of item you have to sell. You want to get as much for it as possible.

The answer to “What do pawn shops buy?” depends a great deal on the communities they serve. Pawn shops want the same types of items the people in their community want to buy. Stick with a store in your area but make sure it deals in the right types of products before you choose the one where you take your item to sell.

You should check out the terms that the pawn shop offers and the types of prices they offer on items they buy. Check out the store’s policies and their customers’ testimonials to get both sides of the story. A pawn shop that offers more flexible terms and high purchase rates will give you a better deal.

Choosing a pawn shop that specializes in the types of items that you want to sell offers a number of advantages. They know more about these products than the average guy and are more likely to give you a fair price. They also know that they can sell your item if needed and they already have customers who make these types of purchases regularly.

Many of the people who shop at pawn shops do so to get better quality products at a lower cost. The option to buy at pawn store prices allows them to purchase higher-end products than they could normally afford to buy. When it’s time to buy the kids a computer for school, buying from the pawn shop is a great way to get a top quality computer at a much more affordable price.

Other people are collectors who look for items that are different than those they already own to add value and diversity to their collection. These items may or may not be functional but they usually lean towards luxury more than practicality. Items like coins, firearms, and diamonds are collectible items. Sometimes a collector will pay much more for an item that is unusual than someone else who needs an item for its intended purpose. Consider whether any of the items you own might be unique enough to get the interest of a collector.

When you call to find out “What do pawn shops buy?” also ask what else you need to bring. Most are required by state laws to ask for ID. If you don’t have a driver’s license, ask what other forms of ID they accept.

Contact Monte de Piedad for the best prices and most flexible terms in San Diego. We have thirteen locations with one near you! We were voted the Best Pawn Shop in San Diego for two consecutive years and we strive to make a significant contribution to the people in our community.