The Secrets Of Pawn

Want to offload your stuff without the risks associated with internet selling? Well, it wasn't that long ago Pawn Shops had reputation for being frequented by unscruplious dealers, thieves selling stolen items and the vulnerable living on the poverty line. But things have changed. Now, after a bit of reinvention, it's where savvy bargain hunters go to score a deal, and sellers can flip their items for cash in hand.

Ahead of the Love Vintage Fair this weekend in Sydney, we chat with star of TV show Hardcore Pawn Seth Gold who shares the secrets of the trade.

For someone that has never pawned an item before, tell us how it works?

When you bring something into pawn at American Jewelry and Loan we offer you 90 day loan with a 3% interest rate. At any point in those 90 days you can pick your item up, and pay back the loan plus interest for the months you've used. If at the end of 90 days, you don't have enough or you need a little more time you can pay just the interest owed and we'll issue you a new ticket for 90 days.

What's the benefits of selling versus pawning?

Most people pawn items, because it's a short term loan with a very low interest rate. At any time you can pay the interest and the amount borrowed back and you get your item back. However, if you sell me something I can generally pay you more - that's the biggest benefit of selling versus pawning.

What are some of the most popular items that are bought at your pawn shop?

The most popular items purchased at our pawn show is definitely jewelry. We have one of the largest selections in Detroit and an amazing custom jeweler that has been with us for 27 years. In addition, we sell a lot of electronics like large, flat screen TV's and game consoles.

What are some of the most unusual items?

We get some really weird stuff that walks through the door. Someone tried to sell me his glass eye once - pop'd it out right in front of me! Unfortunately after doing research I couldn't help him out because glass eyes are size and color specific. I did take in on pawning a prosthetic leg once and we bought several mascot costumes.

What would you never buy or pawn because no one would ever purchase it?

I would say that there's probably nothing that we wouldn't at least consider to take in on pawn or buy. If someone bought it once, someone else will buy it again for the right price.

What would you recommend that people look around their homes to pawn or sell if they want to make some extra cash?

If you're looking to make some extra cash - the easiest place to start is your jewelry box. Precious metal prices have skyrocketed, so there's a lot of money to make off of gold and silver. Electronics can be good too, but only if they're really new or really old. Another good place to check is in your attic, basement and / or garage for really dusty boxes. Dust means they haven't been looked at in a while, so you may find some hidden treasures. Old sports cards, antique frames, etc; they're worth good money at times.

Have internet sale sites had any impact on your business?

Internet sites have definitely had an impact on our business, both positive and negative. The downside is that often people get an inflated sense of what their item is worth. They want to sell me their stuff for $100 because that's what they're selling for on eBay - but I can't pay you that much; I have to make a profit too! The upside of internet sale sites besides that I can sell my own items on eBay and it's made finding the intrinsic value of items much easier. I can spot check what someone is paying for Babe Ruth's signature today - so I know what is reasonable to sell it for today.

Why would you recommend that someone sell something to a pawn shop versus internet selling sites?

For many reasons. First and foremost - it's easier; you don't have to package and ship things to someone (which can swiftly eat into your profit margin) and you don't have to worry about your buyer receiving what you sold broken etc. Secondly, I'm going to give you cash - right there on the spot for what you're selling me. You don't have to wait for the check to clear, or worry that the item was brought from you on a stolen credit card. Lastly, if you're selling because you want to buy, I can definately make you a deal!

If you're shopping at a pawn store and looking for a bargain, what should you look for?

Really, the best piece of advice I could give any potential customers is to try and make a deal. I mean, you can pay me my asking price for it, I'll happily accept your money - but everything is negotiable too.

A pawn shop has to make a profit on the items they are selling, but what should you do if you feel like you're getting an unfair deal when selling something to a pawn shop?

If you feel like you're getting an unfair deal when selling or buying anything walk away, shop it around. Have an idea of what your top and bottom line is before you start negotiations. If it goes outside of those parameters, walk away.

Seth, Les and Ashley from Hardcore Pawn will be appearing at The Love Vintage Fair in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. For more information, head to lovevintage.com.au

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