Do you go to pawn shops?
A year and a half ago, someone gave me a 50cc scooter. It was of uncertain foreign brand and I could not figure out how to even change the oil. None of the shops in my area would even work on it because they did not know where to get parts for it. People mocked me for driving that scooter, but it sure was convenient since we only have one family vehicle and in our state, scooters under 51cc do not have to be licensed, registered or insured. Between adding a little oil now and then and buying gas, I drove it for about $3 a week. Anyway, I drove it to work most days of the week all until it was stolen about six months ago. I think someone just picked it up and threw it in the back of a pickup truck and that was the end of it.
Anyway, I have started to look for a replacement scooter on Craigslist, Ebay, used motorcycle shops and pawn shops. We have a surprisingly large number of the latter in our area. I have always been fascinated by pawn shops, but I think I had only entered one once before the past couple of weeks. I did not even understand what it meant to pawn something until recently.
I think I have discovered a new hobby.
Our family frequents second hand stores and rummage sales on a regular basis, but I have found pawn shops to be much more exciting. Second hand stores seem to have nothing other than clothing and broken furniture. Pawn shops have tools, electronics, jewelry, bicycles, musical instruments, televisions, guns – all kinds of cool stuff. My wife pretty much assumes that everything in there is “hot”. I think that might be an exaggeration, but it certainly adds to the excitement factor.
If you were like me and did not know much about pawn shops, here are a few pointers that I have picked up:
- To pawn an item means that you bring something of value into the store and the owner will lend you a sum of money and keep your item as collateral. You can have your item back if you pay back the loan principle and interest by the agreed upon deadline, usually six months to a year.
- An item in possession of the pawn shop that has not been redeemed is said to be off pawn and the store is free to list the item for sale.
- The amount of the pawn loan is usually a relatively small percentage of the value of the item, ten to fifteen percent is all.
- Pawning an item is often the last resort for many people. If you are pinched for cash, using a pawn shop might seem a little desperate, but it is an infinitely better option than taking a cash advance from a credit card or applying for a payday loan.
- If you are shopping in a pawn shop, you need to have a good grasp of the values of certain brands. For instance, today I saw two bicycles for sale right next to each other. To me, they pretty much looked the same, yet one had a price tag of $50 and the other had a price tag of $999. I had no idea which one was a good deal or a rip off.
- If you buy an item in a pawn shop, be sure to check it out thoroughly. All merchandise is sold “as is”, some stores clean things up a little, some do not. It is up to you to determine if the item is in good working order.
After spending some time in the pawn shops lately, I did not find a scooter, but I have my eye on a bicycle and possibly a microwave. We have had the same one in our kitchen since we were married and it is close to the end of the line I fear. I was also looking around my house today for something to sell or pawn. The problem is that just about everything we own was second-hand when we purchased it. Although we do have a glass china hutch from my great grandmother . . . hmmm . . . Do you think Mrs. Stew would miss it?
Article by Stew
Photo by hsjfender