The pandemic has hit a lot of store owners hard, changing the way they conduct their usual business with their customers. Here’s a few measures your pawn shop can take to ensure you still retain good business during the COVID era.
Offer Hand Sanitizer
Pawn shops often deal with secondhand or previously used items, so it’s wise to offer your customers complimentary drops of hand sanitizer right when they enter and right before they leave the store again. Not only does this minimize possible bacteria from entering your store, but also ensuring your customers remain safe and healthy after perusing through your stock.
Keep Antibacterial Wipes On-Hand
The CDC advises that small businesses should regularly “clean and disinfect all frequently touched surfaces, such as workstations, countertops, handrails, and doorknobs” and to discourage sharing tools and equipment you touch with other employees. This typically means using antibacterial wipes or pure alcohol spray to wipe down your doors, glass cases, and applicable stock that customers have touched throughout the day.
It might be a good idea to keep a notebook nearby to list what items customers touch during their visit so you can wipe them down again after they leave. You should also consider wearing disposable gloves when cleaning so your hands are not constantly smelling of strong cleaners when helping out customers.
Set Up Designated Social Distancing Spots
Unless a small group of customers came together, you should urge your customers to stand the government-sanctioned 6 feet apart. To aid with this, you should redesign your store in a way that allows for enough space for multiple customers to roam around without coming into close contact with one another.
Of course, your shop may not allow for this space. Some other pawn shops have only let in 1 customer into the store at a time, making others line up outside in 6-foot intervals. Of course, if your shop is large enough and has a good ventilation system, then you can allow in a few more customers provided they keep their distance.
Encourage Customers to Pay Digitally
Cash exchanging hands runs the risk of passing on bacteria or other pathogens to and from your customers. You should encourage all your customers to pay with either a credit card, debit card, or set up some other system where you can transfer their money to their bank accounts directly.
If you have a website for your pawn shop, then you should let your customers know about it so they can still shop or ask for pawn loans from your store all from the comfort of their own home!
Check in With Your Employees
Make sure to check in with your employees and their health when they come into work. If they admit to feeling the least bit ill, it is best to send them home for the day until they recover.
You should also encourage them to wash their hands frequently, wear masks, and keep 6 feet apart from customers they help.
You might be surprised to know that the pawning business is one steeped in ancient history that spans thousands of years old. Many countries all across the world implemented different pawning practices that would serve as the foundation for current pawning businesses.
But just where is the world’s oldest pawn shop located?
History of Pawning
Pawning is a business practice that has existed since ancient times. The first pawn shops emerged in ancient China around the 5th century, and were typically run by Buddhist monasteries. This practice later became widespread throughout the country with the help of wealthy lay people partnering up with Buddhist monks.
Pawning was also popular in ancient Greece and Rome, though there were certain restrictions as to what the Romans could pawn or sell to these shops. At the time, pawn shops were mainly used as a means to help smaller business owners start off with good capital.
Pawning has quite the complicated history in Europe, with some countries embracing the practice and others shunning it for various reasons. Throughout much of its history in ancient Europe, pawning rules and regulations vastly differed from country to country—and even shop to shop.
It was not until The Pawnbrokers Act of 1872 where pawning regulations and broker protections became centralized and enforced. Pawning would not be where it is at today without such an important act.
Where is the World’s Oldest Pawn Shop?
When nearly every pawn shop that boasts 80 or more years in business tries to claim this title, it is a bit difficult to know exactly which of these pawn shops is truly the oldest pawn shop in the world. Not to mention the fact that there are countless pawn shops owned by elderly pawn brokers that simply do not have the tools to advertise themselves digitally.
Due to pawn shops’ extensive history, this is a tricky question to answer. Some claim that the oldest pawn shop is the il Banco Rosso (or “the red bank”) in Italy, which is at least over 200 years old. The Banco Rosso has been restored by the city, so you can still visit it today!
However, since it is no longer a running pawn shop, but rather a historic tourist destination, people might not credit the shop as the oldest pawn shop to exist, especially since the first pawn shops did not even originate in the country.
Instead, it might be best to try and find the oldest pawn shop in your country that is currently still in business. The oldest pawn shops around the world typically date back to the late 1800s, with America, Great Britain, and Hong Kong boasting many of them.
Of these, the oldest pawn shop that is still currently in business is T.N. Donnelly & Company in Chicago, recently rebranded as the Chicago Loan Company after being bought by The Loan Companies. The pawn shop first opened in 1881 and still continues to operate to this day.
Looking for some neat things to spruce up your home on a budget? Try perusing your local pawn shop.
You can easily find a wide variety of household items in great condition—all at a fraction of the retail price. Pawn shops also have a lot of merchandise to choose from, most of it you might not find anywhere else. You can also customize items you find to make your home really shine.
There are tons of reasons you should shop at a pawn shop for household items, but here are just a few below.
One of the biggest appeals of shopping at a pawn shop is the reduced price of all items. The retail prices of some household items might be just out of your budget, but you might find some great decorations, furniture, and other commodities at a pawn shop at a much more affordable price.
One of the most popular items people buy at a pawn shop, for example, is electronics. Your local pawn shop might not have the latest model, but they will have plenty of slightly older electronics still in excellent condition. The pawn broker might even be generous enough to let you test it out so you know you are getting your money’s worth instead of a hunk of junk.
Pawn shops will even let you haggle down prices, so you might convince them to sell an item to you for far cheaper than it initially cost.
You might walk into a pawn shop and be surprised by just how much variety there is. A pawn shop’s showroom will have hundreds of household décor, furniture, and more for you to choose from.
Cool Vintage Items
Pawn shops are renowned for buying as well as selling all sorts of vintage items. This might include vintage clothing or furniture from many seasons ago, rare collectibles that are no longer being produced, or just by-gone memorabilia that just so happens to match your home’s vintage aesthetic. Pawn shops that specialize in antiques are also quite popular.
The piece you buy might have a cool history attached to it, too. Most items sold off to pawn shops do. Be sure to ask the pawn broker about anything that retains your interest the next time you visit.
Another great aspect about pawn shops is the easy customization of pieces. Say you find a gold ring you really like but do not like the gemstone attached to it. You can simply ask the in-house jeweler to remove it for you and replace it with one you do like to make a truly unique piece.
While customization is more applicable for jewelry pieces, you can easily apply this logic to other items as well. For example, you might come across a gently-used throw blanket and a sofa you really like. You can then drape that blanket over the sofa to give it a unique, comfy look.
Most people who want to work in sales tend to gravitate towards business, finance, or real estate. Though these are all viable jobs, breaking into said industries may take some getting used to. Working at a pawn shop can give you plenty of important sales experience that you can then apply to jobs later on in life.
Working with Credit
Pawn brokers do more than just buy and sell items. They must also know how to appraise items and work with differing amounts of customer credit.
Many customers go to a pawn shop looking for a quick loan. They may pledge any item (or even numerous items) to the pawn shop as collateral in exchange for an agreed-upon sum of money. This takes some quick appraisal skills on the broker’s part, which can be a very valuable skill in the marketing world.
Basically, the broker will hold onto the item in question for a certain amount of time until the customer pays the loan back. If the customer does not pay the loan back in time, then the pawn shop will consider their item forfeited and then resell it in the shop. The customer does not owe the shop any money at that point, making their pledged item the only thing lost.
The broker may have several on-going contracts going on at once, so you must be able to keep track of all the credit you choose to lend out. Honing good organization and bookkeeping skills at a pawn shop can definitely help you in other sales jobs later on as well.
Better Understanding of Consumer Products
Because the stock that pawn shops work with is so varied, you will get a better sense of which types of products are popular with customers, how to identify authentic items versus fakes or even stolen merchandise a customer might try to sell to you, and how the current values of items fluctuate in the market.
Depending on the type of pawn shop you choose to work at, you might even become a specialist in a certain area (i.e. jewelry, antiques, vintage furniture or clothing, etc.) that will make you desirable in specific industries. Being knowledgeable about various products and their markets can give you serious edge in the business job market. A potential employer might even value your quick eye and appraisal skills when making a business deal.
Build Interpersonal Skills
Working at a pawn shop means you will get all types of customers with different needs. Some might need a small loan to pay off a debt while others may simply want some jewelry at a more affordable price. A pawn broker has to learn how to adapt quickly between these transactions.
Learning how to read people can be especially helpful in dealing with difficult customers or clients. You will also get the chance to deal with a diverse clientele, preparing you for all sorts of business ventures in the future.
In these trying times, the last thing you might want to do is visit a pawn shop. After all, if going to the grocery store is already hazardous enough, how much more could a store full of previously-owned items be? Is a pawn shop even an essential business?
As it turns out, pawn shops are not only essential, but they are thriving amidst the pandemic. Pawn shops are helping out plenty of consumers with flexible loans and buying old items from you for quick cash. You might even be able to snag some essential items like laptops for a reduced price.
Here are a few tips that will keep you safe when visiting a pawn shop despite COVID.
Practice Social Distancing
Remember to keep 6 feet away from others when out in public. Whenever a person sneezes, coughs, or even talks, droplets from their mouth and nose can spread in the air and transfer to other people’s mouths and noses around you. If that person has COVID, they might unknowingly transfer the virus to you and others.
Keeping a good distance away from strangers alongside other health practices will keep you safe during a visit to a pawn shop. Luckily, some pawn shops will have markers all around their store to help you keep a safe distance away from any other patrons shopping there.
Wear a Mask
Though the pawn broker will be mostly protected by a thick glass partition while you complete your transaction, it is still a good idea to wear a mask when visiting a pawn shop. This is more to help protect your fellow shoppers’ safety.
Because COVID is an airborne virus, wearing a mask can significantly reduce the spread even if you believe you are not infected. Even if you are not infected, it can help prevent you from contracting the virus from someone near you that might have it.
Ask the Pawn Broker If They Can Sanitize Items
If you plan to buy items from your local pawn shop, it might be a good idea to ask if the pawn broker can sanitize it before handing it off to you. Pawn shops keep plenty of hand sanitizer and antibacterial wipes on hand, so it should not be much of a problem for them to accommodate your request.
Use Their Website
If the idea of visiting a pawn shop in-person still intimidates you, you can always look up your local pawn shop’s website to see if they are conducting business there, too. Pawn shops will ship items to you and let you ship over collateral to them for a quick loan in turn if you would rather keep self-quarantining.
You can even contact the pawn broker via phone call or e-mail to try and haggle down a price on any item you like all from the comfort of your home. In fact, most pawn shops are conducting the majority of their business this way to keep afloat.
If you need some fast cash, getting a pawn loan is the best way to go. The pawn broker will not ask about your credit score nor care about any past debts. All you need is an item to put up for collateral and to agree on a set period of time to pay the loan off with the pawn broker.
But what simple, fast, and effective items can you pawn off in a hurry? Here is a small list of items you can find in your home that you can pawn off to get a quick and easy loan.
How Pawn Loans Work
Pawn loans are pretty simple. As stated above, you must offer something to the pawn broker as collateral. The broker will appraise your piece and give an estimate for how much money they are willing to loan to you.
You can haggle with the broker about the loan amount until you both agree on a price and period of time to pay the loan back that suits your needs.
Even if you find you can’t pay the loan in time, don’t worry! The pawn shop will just keep the item you put up for collateral. The broker will not even charge you interest for the money you did take out.
Of course, pawn brokers will appraise the object you turn in before deciding on a loan amount. If they suspect your item to be fake or stolen, they will not take it.
Old jewelry is one of the most common items people will use to make a quick pawn loan. They cost a lot, so of course the payout rate would be pretty high, too.
Due to the fluctuating jewelry market, however, some pieces might be worth more than others during certain times of the year. It’s a good idea to look into what is currently popular to see which of your own pieces might produce a higher loan amount.
Pawning off your used electronics can land you a sizable loan. You can pawn off any electronic from game consoles to gently-used smartphones to old TVs. It doesn’t matter if you have the newest model or an older one. So long as the device is in relatively good condition, you can expect a pretty sizable loan.
Pawn shops will gladly take your old power tools off your hands, too! You’ll earn a bigger loan if you put up power tools in relatively good working condition. More so if they are brand-new. Brand tends to play a pretty big part in the loan amount you will get, so choose to pawn off big-name brands for more money.
The funny thing about nostalgia is that people will absurd amounts just to experience something again. If you have decades-old antiques lying around, you can easily pawn them off to make fast cash.
This is especially true if the pawn shop you go to specializes in buying and selling antiques.
Pawn shops offer a wide selection of items, many of which are sold for much less than their retail value. Here are just some of the types of items that you can find at your local pawn shop.
Jewelry is perhaps the most popular item customers tend to pawn or sell off to a pawn shop. Most customers can make a pretty hefty sum just from selling off old jewelry, which is why you may see so many different varieties of jewelry all throughout the store. Many if not all these pieces come with their own unique histories, which can make the item feel all the more special.
You can even ask pawn brokers if you can mix and match certain chains, charms, and gemstones together to create a wholly unique piece found nowhere else.
Most people might be wary of purchasing used electronics like computers, tablets, and game consoles, but pawn brokers only sell electronics they know are in good condition. Some pawn brokers will even let you open DVD, Blu-ray, or game cases and check if the disc isn’t scratched-up beforehand, a benefit no other stores will give you.
Many of the models a pawn shop carries might not be the latest editions, but if they still work well, you could be getting great electronics for a fantastic bargain!
Watches are easily one of the most common items you can find in a pawn shop, something that the average watch enthusiast knows well. Due to the fact that some watches are sold for thousands upon thousands of dollars, many seeking a high-quality piece will benefit from buying second-hand ones from a pawn shop.
Pawn shops are always looking for new pieces to display, so you might find some real eye-catching watches!
Pawn shops often accrue a great selection of designer fashion and handbags and sell them back at much more affordable prices. Of course, these designer items might have been popular several seasons ago, but the brand names and designs might entice those who couldn’t afford them at retail price.
Who knows? You might even bring these older styles back in fashion!
Antiques and Collectibles
Those who are interested in vintage items can rely on pawn shops to have a good collection of older merchandise to peruse. You might be able to find cool vintage furniture no longer in production or the perfect rug from decades ago that fits with your personal aesthetic. Like with jewelry, each antique comes with its own fascinating history.
If you’re a fanatic of comic books, superheroes, or geek culture in general, your local pawn shop might have hidden gems from your fandom’s past. This could be anything from first edition comic books to old bobbleheads to older pieces of merchandise signed by famous actors or writers.
Pawn brokers especially prize mint editions, so you never know when you could score a rare prize for your own collection!
Pawn shops are great for finding all sorts of older electronics, antique furniture, and unique pieces of jewelry for far less than the retail price. However, there are also a fair share of unusual and downright weird items some pawn shops might take in, too.
Here are the top 5 unusual items you might find in a pawn shop.
Coins and Other Currency
Pocket change is something most people want to be rid of, but did you know that you can actually make money with your money? Unless you have some legitimately old (around 100 years old or more) or extremely rare coins, however, your coins won’t be worth more than their current value.
Pawn shops value coins based on the percentage of gold, silver, copper, nickel, or other metals used to make the coin, so it might be a good idea to get any old coins you have appraised beforehand.
Cars and Other Vehicles
You might be surprised to know that the eclectic collection of cars or other vehicles parked right by the pawn shop is not a special parking lot, but all sorts of vehicles previous pawn shop customers have either pawned or outright sold to the pawn shop for a hefty profit.
Pawn shops aren’t car dealerships, so you shouldn’t expect a wide selection. Still, if a vehicle in their lot catches your eye and the specs all seem to test out great, then you might be able to get a gently used car at a great bargain.
As it turns out, around 2.5 percent of items pawned off or sold in American pawn shops are guns. Guns have great resale value, mainly because their design and function don’t change all that much. Depending on what state you live in, guns might actually be the most popular item pawned off to pawn stores.
Jewelry, precious gems, and precious metals are some of the most popular merchandise a pawn shop peddles and pawns. Not only are pawn brokers more than happy to resell your old jewelry, but you can also make quite a lot from selling it, too.
However, some pawn shop customers take this a little too far and try to pawn off or even sell old gold fillings or teeth to make a tidy profit. Most pawn shop owners will request that you have the gold separated from the tooth before trying to sell it to them. Others will take the gold off your hands, tooth and all, without much of a fuss.
The rather unfortunate truth of working in a pawn shop is that some customers will try to sell off all their old junk, including (sometimes previously used) sex toys.
To be fair, some of these sex toys are inlaid with precious stones like diamonds, which are definitely something a pawn broker finds valuable enough to buy. Still, coming across these in a pawn shop is still pretty gross.
One of the best aspects of pawn shops is the fact that they are willing to pawn or buy just about anything of value. Unfortunately, this can be a downside, too.
Pawn brokers that have been in the business a long time will have their fair share of odd stories to tell. Here are just a few of the funniest items ever sold at a pawn shop.
Cookie Monster Jewelry
Chains and various charms made from precious metals can easily be used to customize other pieces, so pawn brokers love when customers bring them in. In fact, many pawn shops will happily take any old jewelry off your hands.
Some customers, however, will try to sell off some really strange pieces. Those who have watched the hit Netflix Original Uncut Gems may recall the diamond-encrusted Furby toys Adam Sandler’s shifty character peddles to unwitting customers.
As if that wasn’t an odd enough piece in fiction, one pawn broker on Reddit fondly recalls a time when a customer sold his 153.4 gram, 10-karat gold-linked chain with a huge golden Cookie Monster charm attached to it in real life. There were even 2.0-karat diamonds placed into the eyes.
Though the pawn shop appraised the piece to be worth around $1,500, the customer only wanted $100 for the entire thing.
Speaking of precious metals, pawn shops will pay a pretty penny for just about anything that contains the stuff. Apparently, this includes the gold fillings on your teeth (or even the whole tooth). Some desperate customers will even go so far as to yank out their own teeth with pliers right at the register for a bit of cash.
Most pawn shops request their customers to have the gold removed from their teeth before trying to sell it off. That being said, a few brokers might not care and buy the gold off the customer as is, tooth and all, and sell it back to potential customers.
When pawn shops claim they will buy anything from customers, most don’t expect people to go this far for a bit of cash. On an episode of the TV show Pawn Stars, a man sold one of the hosts a whole can of elephant manure from the Washington Park Zoo for $20. Though this was clearly meant as a sort of gross prank by the man, the hosts were too amused not to indulge how ridiculous it was.
Another Reddit user states that a Tennessee woman once tried to sell some feces in a shoe box as well. The catch is it wasn’t hers (as if that wouldn’t be weird enough), but rather, Elvis
Presley’s from around 50 or so years ago. She claims that she and the famous rock star had had a one-night stand and he went to the bathroom afterwards.
Unlike the Pawn Stars prank, this woman was serious. The brokers refused to even touch it, so at least there was that.
Pawn shops are often seen as small businesses owned by savvy individuals that know their stuff. Most pawn shops are, in fact, just that. However, there are plenty of larger-scale shops that cater to much wider consumer bases than the average pawn shop. Some of these might even qualify as being the biggest pawn shop in the world.
Where is the Biggest Pawn Shop in the World?
This is a bit more difficult to answer than one might think. Mostly, it depends on your own personal definition of what makes a business “big”. This could mean the actual size of the shop itself, its customer base, or even the platforms the shop uses to grow its business.
Let’s take a closer look at shops that cover each of these definitions below.
McTamney’s Pawn Shop in Canada
McTamney’s in Canada boasts a client base of around 60,000 Canadians on a regular basis, all with different items they want to pawn of sell off entirely. To accommodate this large client base, McTamney’s has 10 loan booths and separate pawn sections, aisles dedicated solely to jewelry, and a showroom for items customers can buy.
However, the article boasting that McTamney’s is the biggest pawn shop came out in 1956. Plenty of factors in the meantime could have changed this claim-to-fame. It may still be one of the biggest pawn shops in Canada, but it might be a stretch to call it the biggest pawn shop in the entire world.
The Dina Collection in Beverly Hills, California
On the surface, this pawn shop might look like any luxury retailer that sells high-end jewelry, watches, and designer items. However, The Dina Collection serves a far wealthier clientele than most—celebrities, millionaires, and even billionaires.
Some people might be startled to discover that the rich use pawn shops like regular people. After all, the wealthiest people in the world should have no problem buying any of the luxury items they want, right?
According to The Dina Collection’s owner Yossi Dina, his wealthiest clientele love bargains as much as everyone else. They also love rare, one-of-a-kind items, which pawn shops pride themselves on selling.
This shop could be considered the “biggest” pawn shop in the world purely for the rich clientele it draws in alone. However, because this pawn shop caters to the obscenely wealthy, it might not appeal much to the average consumer.
With 17 stores in Minnesota and Wisconsin and a 900 square-foot location in Robbinsdale, Pawn America looks to expand their business to even more customers.
The Internet is a vast landscape of untapped marketing potential, a potential that Pawn America hopes to crack. Indeed, with most people nowadays having at least a passing understanding of how the Internet works, they will also look to the convenience of the Internet to pawn off or sell their old junk to make a quick buck.
Pawn America offers this exact convenience and has gained a huge client base because of it.