If you thought pawn shops had a lot to offer in-store, you should check out how much your local pawn shops offer online!
Not only are online pawn shops more convenient, but they may even offer you great deals on already discounted items. Unlike sites like eBay and Craigslist, you can trust that all the products that are available on an online pawn shop’s site are authentic and in good condition.
There are a great many items you can find at an online pawn shop, including:
Jewelry is one of the most, if not the most, popular item that pawn shops peddle. You can find plenty of quality silver, gold, and even platinum pieces to buy online, all while discovering classic antique pieces or even creating unique jewelry of your very own.
Many good pawn shops will have had all their pieces appraised by a professional gemologist or jewelry expert certified by the Gemological Institute of America, so you can be sure that the jewelry you buy is authentic and fairly priced.
You can also pawn off your jewelry or sell it on the online shop to make some quick cash. Once appraised, the online pawn shop will then securely wire the money straight to your bank account so you will have it on-hand.
You can buy plenty of gently-used electronics at an online pawn shop. Browse for used video games, video game consoles, TVs, cameras, computers, tablets, and much more all for a fraction of the retail price!
Most pawn shop owners are also more than happy to answer any questions you might have about any particular items you may be interested in, so don’t be afraid to ask them about specs, the item’s condition, or other important features before purchasing.
One of the best things about pawn shops is your ability to haggle the price, so you may also be able to score a sweet deal on an item that you wouldn’t be able to get anywhere else.
Tools and Appliances
Pawn shops offer a wide variety of tools ranging from simple hand tools and tool kits to full-on industrial machines. You will also find quite a few appliances on your local pawn shop’s site. These can range from standard kitchen appliances to lawn mowers to office equipment.
From cellos to mixers to electric guitars, your online pawn shop will have it all. If you’re interested in learning how to play a musical instrument, then buying a used one from an online pawn shop might be a good place to start. It may be a better investment than buying a brand-new one that you only play once or twice then never again.
Looking for some great sporting equipment but don’t want to break the bank with just a single item? Even the most hardened of athletes will find something to help them up their game at a pawn shop—all for less than retail price!
Finding a stockpile of antiques can feel like you’ve just discovered a treasure trove. Selling off your old stuff can help clear out some space and make serious cash.
The only question is where you should sell your antiques. Should you sell them off to a pawn shop or an antique store? What’s the difference between the two?
Let’s take a closer look into both kinds of shops below.
Antique Pawn Shops
Pawn shops always welcome antiques as they need some unique pieces in their showroom to pull in potential customers. If you are still wary about parting with a specific antique item but really need the cash, then you can opt for a pawn loan on the item instead. This means that you can offer your antiques as collateral for a certain amount of cash.
Pawn shop owners are typically lax on terms, but if you cannot pay back the loan in time, they will simply keep the item you put up for collateral with no extra charge to you.
Of course, you can also sell your antiques to a pawn shop outright. You may have to haggle the selling price with the owner for some time before you both reach a satisfactory price. The largest amount a pawn shop will buy your antiques at will be 75 percent, or 85 percent for luxury items.
Antique stores specialize in the appraisal and selling of antique items, so you can be sure that the owners know their stuff. However, because they will be reselling your antiques to make a profit, they may give a low offer on your items. Like pawn shops, you will have to haggle a decent price with the antique shop owner until you find a price you’re both satisfied with.
If you have a lot of antiques to sell, the antique shop may even allow you to rent out space in the shop so you can make a profit on their sales, too!
Which to Choose
The main difference between antique pawn shops and general antique stores is how they operate. Pawn shops will allow you to offer antiques as collateral for a quick loan while antique stores do not. You either have to sell or trade your antiques right off the bat without the ability to get your item back unless you purchase it from them.
You should first figure out how quickly you need the money and if you are truly willing to part with your antiques before deciding which type of store to visit. If you need a temporary loan, then head to a pawn shop. If you want to simply rid yourself of your antiques, then you could go to either a pawn shop or an antique store.
Ultimately, the choice is up to you. You can even visit multiple antique stores and pawn shops in your area to see how much these stores are willing to pay for your stuff.
Did you know that you can buy great jewelry at a pawn shop for far less than what you would normally pay for it? In fact, most pawn shops will sell pieces for up to 30 to 50 percent off the retail price!
With that in mind, what’s the best kind of jewelry to buy at a pawn shop?
Rings are one of the most sought-after jewelry pieces, especially by newly-engaged couples. Engagement rings in particular tend to be far more expensive than other types of jewelry.
You will find a surprisingly wide selection of pre-owned engagement rings to choose from at your local pawn shop. Pawn shops often sell gold, silver, and platinum rings as well as rings with diamonds or other precious gemstones set into them for much less than the rings you would find in a retail jewelry store.
Most pawn shops will also offer to clean the jewelry pieces you buy either for free or for a small fee, so no need to worry about purchasing a dirty ring. You may want to look up the local pawn shops specializing in jewelry in your area to check on these fees beforehand.
If the thought of a buying a pre-owned engagement ring conjures up worries of a failed marriage, you can ask if the pawn shop have any brand-new pieces they have on-stock instead! They will be more than happy to accommodate you.
Necklaces and Pendants
Pawn shops also have a good variety of gold, silver, and platinum necklace chains or individual pendants in-stock as well. While many jewelry stores tend to sell only the trendiest pieces, pawn shops have a wider variety of vintage and unique jewelry pieces that may be more suited to your tastes.
One of the best things about pawn shops is the ability to make a customizable piece. For instance, you may really like the look of a particular pendant, but might not like the necklace chain it is attached to. You can simply ask the pawn broker to transfer that pendant to a chain you do like instead. Shops that can afford an in-house jeweler may also make smaller tweaks to pieces at your request.
Bracelets and Charms
Much like necklaces, you can also mix and match different sorts of bracelet chains and charms to create a wholly unique piece. If you have small wrists, you could even ask if it’s possible for the in-house jeweler to shorten the length of a bracelet you like.
A Note on Authenticity
If you are still wary about purchasing jewelry from a local pawn shop, be sure you look up their reputation online before visiting. You might also want to look up the retail prices for the pieces you’re looking for so you have a better feel of what’s a deal and what isn’t.
Any reputable in-house jeweler for a pawn shop should have a GIA certification or a valid appraisal document that proves their expertise, so you can ask to see it if you have any doubts about the shop.
Many pawn shops thoroughly clean their jewelry pieces before selling them. However, if you want to be sure your jewelry is free of any grime, you can always clean your pieces yourself as well.
How can you clean your jewelry from the pawn shop?
Professional Jewelry Cleaning
If you aren’t sure how to go about cleaning your pawn shop jewelry, ask the pawn shop’s in-house jeweler if they can do it for you. You can also take your jewelry to a different jeweler in your area to clean it, too.
Both services may charge a small fee for each piece you want cleaned
Soap and Water
Keep in mind that different materials will react to certain cleaners differently. You can use soap and water to clean gold and silver jewelry just fine, but softer gemstones will become damaged. Make sure you use a mild dish soap, a soft-bristled toothbrush, and a soft towel to clean your jewelry to prevent any damage or nicks to its surface.
- Mix your dish soap with warm water and let the jewelry soak for 15 minutes.
- Gently scrub each piece with your toothbrush. Focus most of your efforts on the prongs (the little things holding the gemstones in place), gemstones, and the inside of a band if you are cleaning an old ring. These spots tend to collect the most dirt and dust.
- Rinse off with warm water and dry off with a soft towel.
You can use ammonia to clean gold and silver jewelry, but avoid using it to clean opal, porous gemstones, platinum, or pearls.
- Mix an ammonia solution comprised of 1/2 cup clear ammonia and 1 cup water.
- Let your pieces soak for a good 10 minutes.
- Rather than scrub at your pieces with a toothbrush, simply pat them with a soft towel and let it air-dry.
White vinegar is an all-natural cleaning solution that is used to disinfect and clean many surfaces, including jewelry pieces! Just make sure you only use it to clean solid metal pieces. The acidity of the vinegar can ruin pearls, gemstones, and rhinestones.
- Soak your metal jewelry in white vinegar for 20 minutes.
- Gently scrub at your pieces with a toothbrush or a microfiber cloth.
- Let air-dry.
Salt and Aluminum Foil
Only use this cleaning method for pure silver jewelry. This means do NOT use this method if there are any gemstones set into the piece.
- Line a bowl with aluminum foil.
- Fill the bowl with hot water.
- Add in 1 tablespoon of salt and stir until it fully dissolves in the water.
- Place your silver jewelry in the bowl and let soak for a few minutes.
- Pat your jewelry with a soft cloth then let air-dry.
This is best for jewelry with a lot of gemstones set into it.
- Mix some toothpaste and water together to create a paste that you can spread on your jewelry.
- Scrub with a toothbrush.
- Rinse off with clean water and let dry.
Just like any other kind of business, there are both good and poor pawn shops out there. Here are a few things to look out for to let you know your local pawn shop is a reputable one.
Clean Shop and Friendly Staff
Though most people think pawn shops are generally dirty or seedy places, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Good pawn shops are just as well-kept as any other kind of store. Their stock should be organized in a way that is easy for you to navigate, and the staff should be friendly and ready to help or answer your questions when you need it.
In fact, if the pawn shop that you go to does seem off to you in any way, then it might be best to do business at a different pawn shop.
Brand-Name or Valuable Items on Sale
Many pawn shops deal with jewelry and other sorts of valuable objects from time to time. You will know a pawn shop is legitimate if they showcase brand-name items rather than cheap knockoffs or valuables that you can verify the retail price of.
It might help to research these prices beforehand to ensure that the pawn broker understands the value of all the items they are selling as well as the market surrounding said objects.
Items in Good Condition
All the items in a pawn shop should be in relatively good condition. Just keep in mind that most items you find in a pawn shop are pre-owned, so a little wear should be expected. Pawn brokers do their best to thoroughly clean their stock before they resell it, though, so rest assured that you are buying items that are well-kept.
Of course, pawn brokers or their in-house jewelers may miss something from time to time. If you notice the prong of a ring is slightly off or the clasp of a necklace doesn’t fit right, you can also ask them to fix it for you. Some may charge a small fee while other shops will make these small repairs for free.
Wide Variety of Items
Unless the pawn shop you go to specializes in jewelry, then it should have a wide variety of items for you to buy. From pre-owned movies and games to tools to guns, you can find a lot of great items for much less than the retail price.
It is a good idea to know what you want to buy before heading to the shop, however. The pawn broker will be more than happy to help you find whatever it is you are looking for.
Clearly-Marked Loan Area
Though the front showroom is dedicated to showcasing some of the pawn shop’s best items, the shop should also have an area solely dedicated to issuing customers pawn loans or other similar transactions.
Most loan areas should look like a small bank teller’s booth built into the store. This is to protect the pawn broker and the money they loan out to those who need it.
Though pawn shops are one of the more reputable businesses out there, most people still have reservations about buying jewelry from them.
What are a few questions you can ask the pawn broker to put your mind at ease?
Do you have any certifications I can see?
If a pawn shop has a gemologist or jeweler in-house, they should be certified by the Gemological Institute of America. The GIA is an institution that ensures that a gemologist or jeweler has the expertise and know-how to appraise and handle all sorts of jewelry.
If their in-house gemologist cannot produce such certifications, it’s best to go to a different shop.
Are you a member of the National Pawnbrokers Association?
The National Pawnbrokers Association is a trade association dedicated to following local, state, and federal government laws as well as providing its members with helpful resources and tools to improve their trade.
Any reputable pawn broker should be a member of this association. It’s a good idea to confirm this before doing business with them.
Can I customize this piece?
Say you really like the look of a gemstone set into a ring but don’t like the ring itself. You can just ask the in-house gemologist to transfer the stone to a different piece that better suits your tastes with no extra charge to you!
You can also ask them to resize any necklace or bracelet chains as well! Feel free to mix and match any bits you like to create a truly unique piece.
Is there a fee for cleaning this piece?
Most pawn shops clean their pieces before selling them, but you can ask the in-house jeweler to clean your piece then and there if you want, too. Some pawn shops will clean the jewelry you buy for free while others may charge a small fee. Looking into the services your local pawn shops provide beforehand may help you determine which shop you should visit.
Is this made of pure gold or is it just gold-plated?
There is a big difference between pure gold jewelry and jewelry that is merely gold-plated. Pure gold jewelry is more valuable and more durable. Gold-plated jewelry, on the other hand, risks the gold flaking off to reveal the metal underneath, making it far less valuable.
Ask for gold jewelry that is made of solid gold rather than this thin gold plating to save money in the long run. You should also confirm whether or not their in-house jeweler is able to tell the difference as well.
What can I trade for this piece?
Unlike in retail jewelry stores, you can bring in an old piece to a pawn shop, have it appraised, and ask the pawn broker to trade you your old piece for a relatively new one. That way, you can get rid of some jewelry you don’t want and get something new in return! The pawn broker will also have a new piece to sell, making it a win-win for everyone!
Don’t know what to do with your old jewelry? Why not sell it to a pawn shop and make some easy cash?
Unless they are broken beyond repair, pawn shops will almost always pawn or buy used watches for a hefty price. Luxury watches are especially coveted by pawn shops seeking out quality second-hand pieces to boost their collection to sell.
Look up shops that don’t have many luxury watches on hand to land some serious cash.
Local pawn shops will always take any jewelry made up of precious metals like platinum and gold. Silver and “gold-plated” jewelry will likely bring you a fair amount of cash, too, but not nearly as much as, say, a platinum necklace or a pair of gold earrings.
Your jewelry doesn’t even have to be in the best shape, either. Bits and pieces of old jewelry can be used to sustain newer ones. It may even be melted down to create gold bars or new jewelry pieces altogether.
Of course, the better the quality of the piece, the more money a shop may be willing to give you for it.
Turns out diamonds are a pawn shop’s best friend, too. Even a small diamond will fetch you a decent amount of cash at a pawn shop.
If you have a diamond to sell or pawn off but aren’t sure if it’s authentic or not, don’t worry about it. Most pawn shops have an on-site expert that will look into it for you and make you an offer based on their findings.
To test for authenticity and determine its value, they will often look into the “4 Cs” of diamonds—carat, cut, clarity, and color. They will use similar scales to test other precious gemstones as well.
Because pawn shops always have customers looking for good diamond jewelry pieces or those looking for loose diamonds to create their own custom piece, you can bet diamonds are always in high-demand (and have high pay-outs).
There are far more precious stones out there besides diamonds. If you’ve got a good sapphire, ruby, opal, amethyst, topaz, emerald, or other valuable gemstone piece lying around, your local pawn shop will definitely purchase it from you for a good price.
It may help to have appraised the gemstone piece through a reputable organization such as the American Society of Appraisers beforehand, too. These appraisers can determine the authenticity and general current value for your jewelry, letting you decide for yourself whether you wish to pawn or sell it off for some quick cash.
Check What’s Trendy
It is always a good idea to look into what pieces of jewelry are currently trending before selling off a few pieces to a pawn shop.
For instance, ever since Kate Middleton revealed her sapphire engagement ring, people started buying sapphire jewelry pieces. If you sold a sapphire piece during that craze, you might have gotten a little more for it then than you would nowadays.
When most people picture a pawn shop, they think of the sketchy cover businesses of mob movies. This couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Many pawn shops are just like any other shop—clean, well-lit and run by people who want to help you!
How are Pawn Shops Monitored?
Pawn shops are regulated by 14 federal statutes and regulations as well as numerous state and local laws. They are perhaps one of the safest businesses to work with.
It is still a good idea to look into a pawn shop’s reputation through the local Better Business Bureau or the National Pawnbrokers Association’s website before you go.
When people “pawn” items, they are actually taking a pawn loan. With pawn loans, a pawn broker loans you money in exchange for holding onto your personal property as collateral. Once your pawn loan and small pawn fee is paid off, your property is then returned to you.
Typically, you would pawn an item to borrow a few hundred dollars or less at a time. Some pawn shops might even loan up to $15,000 if you pawn off a boat, ATV, or other large motor vehicles.
You can even get a pawn loan from your cars, SUVs or trucks. In this case, a pawn broker will simply take the title of said vehicle as collateral rather than the vehicle itself so you can still drive it around.
The exact amount the pawn shop will loan is decided through a pawn contract you sign with them. How long a pawn shop can hold onto your property before it is rightfully theirs differs for every state. You can look up the specific laws and regulations for your state here.
Let’s look at Florida as an example.
Florida Pawn Loan Laws
When pawning off items in Florida, you must pay off the pawn loan within 30 business days or risk forfeiting the property you pawned off to the pawn broker, including the absolute right, title, and interest in and to the property vests in. You can, of course, extend the loan if both parties mutually agree to do so.
Once the property is in the pawn broker’s ownership, however, they are not obligated to redeem the goods pawned to them as collateral.
You will be given a pawn broker transaction form upon making the contract. If that form is lost, destroyed, or stolen, you must either write to your pawn broker by certified or registered mail, or show the broker a copy of your return receipt.
What Can You Pawn?
There is no restriction (or limit) on what items you can pawn off or even outright sell to pawn shops. You can even pawn most kinds of guns (including airsoft and paintball guns) unless you are a minor. You will also have to prove your ownership as well.
Unfortunately, there are some items that pawn shops will turn away. This list will give you a better idea of what sorts of items pawn shops will accept and what they will refuse.
Most people who want to open a pawn shop oftentimes think pawn brokers simply buy, sell, and trade secondhand goods. The main business of a pawn broker, however, is providing you short-term credit in exchange for your personal property as collateral for a loan.
There are three important factors you need to consider before heading into the pawn brokerage business.
Initial start-up costs may go towards things like:
- Building a solid pawn loan base
- Display cases
- Accounting software
- A computer
- Start-up inventory
- Back room
- Security system
- Qualified assistance
You also need to be able to operate with negative cash flow and minimal profits for several months, which means you need sufficient capital before you even open.
Starting a reputable pawn shop requires you have at least $100,000 in capital. You need to establish your anticipated expenses and expected annual gross revenue in order to calculate how much you truly need. Researching other pawn shops may help give you a better picture of the expenses and revenue you might bring in on your first year.
Use that data to determine what capital you will use. Personal loans, small business administration loans, or an investor are all viable options.
You also need to be able to test and identify authentic precious metals and gemstones. Most pawn shops can attest that at least 50 percent of the of items pledged for a pawn loan or offered for sale are fine jewelry. This means investing in the right tools as well as hiring an in-store authenticator of these goods to look into each piece sent your store’s way.
Consider setting up a good marketing system as well. That way, you will attract good return customers that will keep your pawn shop thriving.
Get a License
Pawn brokers need to follow a wide variety of federal, state, and local regulations. There are currently at least 14 regulations at the federal level alone.
In order to run a successful pawn shop, you need to comply with all regulations within the IRS code, the US Patriot Act, the Truth in Lending Act, and many others to the letter.
You must also obtain a pawn brokerage license. Most pawn shops are licensed at a state level while others just at a local level. Many shops are licensed at both levels.
You will also need many different types of licenses, including:
- A precious metal dealer license
- A secondhand dealer license
- A general business license
Different states require different licenses, so it is important you look up which ones you need before opening up a local pawn shop in your area.
Pawn shops must keep a minimum distance requirement from schools and other similar establishments. It might be a good idea to take over an older pawn shop to minimize any need for location scouting, zoning approval, and additional permits.
If you can’t, contact your city’s planning department to help you find a suitable location for your pawn shop.
When you set up a loan at a pawn shop with physical collateral, that collateral isn’t gone forever. In fact, there’s many ways to reclaim the item you’ve pawned.
Pay Back the Loan
The easiest way to get your item back is to pay back the loaned money plus the interest. It’s often in the best interested of the pawn shop owner to allow you to reclaim your item rather than having to sell it themselves.
This is likely the cheapest and easiest way to reclaim your pawned item, as it’s the intended function of a pawn loan to return your collateral to you once the loan agreements are satisfied.
Ask About Extensions
Either before or after you’ve pawned an item for a quick loan, ask the pawn store owner if they allow for extensions. They typically offer a grace period after the due date for the loan to be repaid. It can be in the pawn shops favor, especially if you can prove it to them that you’re getting paid soon. It’s a gamble on their part – losing out on a potential buyer or having the near assurance of a full payment on the loan.
Reactivate the Loan
Similar to an extension, if you’ve previously forfeit your collateral and it’s still sitting on the shelf after some time, it doesn’t hurt to ask the pawn shop if they’re willing to reactivate the loan. Then, you can finish paying off what you owe in order to get your item back. If there seems to be no interest in the item from paying customers, a pawn shop may feel more incentivized to allow you to resume your loan. That way, they can make back their money and move the merchandise.
Buy it Back
It may feel awkward to attempt to buy an item you’ve previously pawned or forfeited, but you can attempt to buy the item back yourself. This is best if the pawn shop is uninterested in allowing you to resume or finish the loan. If you outright sold the item to the pawn shop, there should be no hard feelings in buying back your item. Granted, you’ll probably be at a loss considering the pawn shop wants to make a profit. The money you got from it was less than its resale value, but if the item means that much to you, it’s an option you can follow through on.
Get a Friend to Buy It
Lastly, you can ask a friend to buy it back if you feel too uncomfortable buying back something from the place you pawned and forfeited on. The social anxiety of buying back an item from the person or company you failed to follow through on can be daunting. It’s a reasonable barrier when wanting to reclaim your stuff. If you have the cash and a good friend, there’s no reason why you wouldn’t be able to get your stuff back so long as it’s still available for purchase.