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.
Pawn shop websites are pretty easy to navigate, even for those less tech-savvy than most. Here’s a short guide on how to use an online pawn shop!
How Online Pawn Shops Sell Items
Online pawn shops organize their wares much like any online retailer would. You can browse through different categories of items, narrow down specific items you are interested in, and even search through their site for particular items of interest.
Many online pawn shops will have recent pictures of their items on their site so you can see for yourself what sort of condition they’re in. Unlike many other online retailers, you can also ask the owner questions about any products you’re interested in. They will be more than happy to give you all the information you need before you buy, and even haggle prices back and forth with you until you both find a price you’re willing to pay.
How Online Pawn Shops Buy Items from Customers
If you want to sell your items through an online pawn shop, you will have to do a couple things before contacting a pawn shop owner.
First, gather all the components of the item you want to sell, including the original box it came in, any certificates or manuals it has, and any extra accessories it initially came with. Pawn brokers are more likely to pay for a complete item rather than something missing components.
Next, thoroughly clean and photograph your item. That way, the broker will be able to properly appraise the item before you send it to them and they can be sure to give you a good price for it.
Finally, you will need to ship over your item to the pawn broker. It is a good idea to see if the pawn broker offers free shipping or is willing to pay for shipping on the item.
Knowing the retail value of the item you’re selling is also helpful so you know the pawn shop owners aren’t lowballing their prices they offer for said item.
How Online Pawn Shops Offer Pawn Loans
Pawn shops specialize in giving people quick loans in exchange for items, but how exactly does this work for an online pawn shop?
Simply mail the pawn shop your item as you would if you were selling it to them. Rather than saying goodbye for good, however, you are simply loaning the shop that item for whatever period of time your loan contract states until you pay the loan back. The pawn shop will then wire the agreed sum to your bank account for you to use.
Most loan contracts can be pretty flexible, so if you need an extension, a pawn shop owner will be more than happy to help you work that out. Even if you can’t pay the loan back in time, you don’t have to worry about any penalty or late fees. The pawn shop will simply keep the item you sent them instead.
Most people seem to think of pawn shops as suspicious or seedy, largely due to their unjustly vilified portrayal in pop culture. Good, reputable pawn shops do exist, and welcome your business with open arms!
Here are the 5 signs of a good pawn shop.
If you are still a bit wary about visiting a pawn shop, you can always ask to see the store’s licenses. The owner should be able to provide the appropriate papers to prove they are in-line with government regulations.
Their in-house gemologist should also have an up-to-date license from the Gemological Institute of America certifying their expertise. Jewelry is a huge commodity for pawn shops, so their appraisal skills are crucial for any pawn shop worth their wares.
If either the owner or their in-house jewelry expert becomes defensive about showing their licenses or flat-out refuses, this is a major red flag. It will be best to take your business to a pawn shop with more open and honest staff.
Huge Variety of Stock
Any good pawn shop should have plenty of different items on sale. This can be really anything from antique jewelry to some of the latest electronics. They’re trying to entice customers to buy their well-kept stock after all.
You should be wary of pawn shops that only appear to carry one type of item in their stock. At best, the owner does not have much in-stock, but at worst, this could be a sign of trouble.
Before heading off to your local pawn shop, it’s a good idea to look up reviews about the place beforehand. If they have good reviews that seem to come from genuine people, then that pawn shop might be worth a visit.
You should also check if the pawn shop you plan to visit has any complaints on the Better Business Bureau’s website, which houses any previous customer complaints and reviews free for you to peruse through.
Owner Asks You a Lot of Questions
Pawn shop owners should ask you a bunch of questions about all the items you try to pawn or sell to them. This is to ensure the item’s authenticity, history, and other important details before the owners appraise it and decide to take it off your hands. Thieves often try to sell off stolen goods to pawn shops, so pawn shop staff must always be vigilant in their questions to ensure they are not aiding a criminal in any way.
In fact, it would be very suspicious if a pawn shop owner bought something off of you and didn’t ask any questions about where it came from!
Friendly Staff and Welcoming Environment
Pawn shops are just like any other business out there. A good pawn shop should have friendly staff ready to help you with whatever you need and stock that is organized and well-maintained.
If the pawn shop you visit has surly staff or seems cluttered or dirty, then perhaps you should seek out a different store.
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!