I can see that not many A.netters have pawned anything recently !
How do pawn shops "operate" ?
Simple; you rent a retail space, stick out a sign........."Loans"; there are ALWAYS people who are broke, and need cash, NOW; you take your guitar (which you paid $ 1,200 for 6 months ago) to the pawn shop, and say, "how much can you "loan" me on this $ 1,200 guitar ? Pawn broker says, "$100"; ( remember, you're not trying to sell your prized guitar, you're just trying to get a "quick loan", and the guitar is the collateral ); the amount the pawn broker will loan you has absolutely nothing to do with what the value of the item put up for "pawn", and it's entirely up to the pawn broker what he's willing to loan.
Many people pawning things have every intention of paying off the loan and getting their guitar, or their diamond ring, their camera, whatever, back; the problem is, there is a time limit, (which you agreed to in writing when you "hocked" your "whatever".
If you don't have the cash when the contract is up, you forfeit the item, and it now belongs to the pawn broker; what he does next is entirely up to him. If you have a guitar that cost $1,200 retail, you may stick a sign on the thing, $ 800; the first "picker" that walks in the door and sees that guitar, goes nuts ! ( people who play musical instruments can't pass up a chance to get a "deal" on an instrument that "turns them on"; so he "negotiates" a bit, maybe the pawn broker lets him have the thing for $ 775; he still made $ 675 on the deal, and maybe only had the thing for 2-3 days.
So a pawn broker is just another "merchant"; he gets "merchandise" cheap, and sells it for whatever the "traffic will bear"; are pawn brokers "honest" ? it all depends on which ones you're talking about ! Some are, some aren't; some are even known to have a second "sideline" going, which is known as "fencing"; ( no, not the chain-link kind, or the "white picket" kind you have around your yard ! These guys "buy" stuff which is "hot" from burglars and other thieves who steal stuff; I can guarantee you that old Rick (on "Pawn Stars" ) won't buy anything that's "hot", because he's got a great thing going; he was doing quite well just pawning stuff, and now he's a big TV
star, and is cleaning up ! (Plus he's a really great guy, and as far as I know, is as honest as they come.)
All of my "experience" has come from the antique business; (which can be a lot like the pawn business at times)
I "dabbled" in the antique business for about 10 years; people have a lot of "misconceptions" as to just what "antiques" are; they are ANYTHING that you offer for sale in a shop / store / mall, that has a sign out front that says "antiques" !
Another "facet" of the antique business............seldom a day goes by, without people coming in, wanting to "sell" you something; usually, they think you should pay THEM more than you could sell the thing for if you kept it laying around for a year; but not always............occasionally you get a bargain; ( I've bought many diamonds this way) For the most part though, I don't like to buy things from "walk ins"; most have a very tragic story to tell, and I'm a sucker for tragic stories ! I'd rather go to an auction and "compete" with the other "suckers".
Just today I was in Terre Haute and had 4 hrs to kill; I went in a "Goodwill Store" to buy a book to read while I was "killing time"..............wouldn't you know, before I even got to the books, I ran across this brand new pair of size 12 mens ice skates; the things were brand new, never been on a pair of stinky old feet; $ 2.99 ! I couldn't resist ! So about January, I'll be sticking them on eBay (or Craig's List) for $ 15
It's just like finding cash laying in the gutter !
Buy LOW, sell HIGH; that's all there is to it; ( but you have to know what people will buy, and what they won't)
After a while, you get "experienced" at what people "want", what they are "hot for", and what they are likely to be willing to pay for it. When you're in the antique business, you tend to go to a LOT of auctions; that's one source of "things to sell"; there are hundreds and hundreds more; you can sell ANYTHING ! Don't believe me ? here's a few "examples";
One day while Miss Arlie was working at the antique shop, I was jerking a bunch of saplings out of the edge of our yard with my Kubota; when she came home, she looked at the pile of small trees I had pulled up, and says, what are you gonna do with them ? Me: "I'm gonna pile them up on my forks, run them down the road a hundred feet, and dump them "over the hill" into the ravine "
She: "No, you're gonna make them into "walking sticks" and sell them at the antique shop "; just like that, "Parke County Walking Sticks" were "born" ! To "humor" Miss A, I made up about 3 or 4 dozen walking sticks, made a jazzy sign for the wall, and started selling walking sticks; in the beginning, I was using whatever I had "pulled up" just to extend my yard into our woods; a lot were sassafras, tulip poplar, some paw-paw, a few wild cherry, white oak, and even a couple of ironwood saplings; a few I spent an hour on, removing the bark with a draw knife, sanding them with a small belt sander, and "experimenting" with various kinds of stain, oil, etc; most I tagged at $7 to $ 10; people started buying the things; then I started getting "orders" ! All in all, I sold walking sticks for about 3 years; sold hundreds of the things; on average, I had like 20 or 30 minutes "labor" involved, a can of stain now and then, and about 24 inches of raw-hide lacing "remnants" for the loop on the top end; after the first year, they started at $10, and went up to $25; (nothing fancy); I did pretty good; but eventually, I just got tired of making them; But I had a better idea ! I read a LOT of books; I was starting to run out of space for my books, so I went into the "used book business"; (all at the antique shop) after messing around with antiques for a couple of years, you start finding more and more "sources" for "obtaining" things; I found a "dynamite" source for used books; a few were "so much a pound", (which can be good sometimes, but books weigh "a lot" ) ; my "dynamite source", all "hard backs" were 50 cents, all paper backs were 25 cents. I sold hundreds of paperbacks for $1, $2, $3, etc; my all-time "record" was a big, 12" X 12" X 1" thick paperback about Bobby Knight; (former head coach of Indiana U., with one NCAA national title); bought the thing on Saturday for 25 cents; put it on the shelf Monday at 10 am when we opened up, and a lady had it back to the cash register at 10:10 (ten minutes later), and was "thrilled" to get it for $26.75 ! ( Bobby Knight has been my all-time favorite coach ever since !)
I'm also very much "into" rocks; I LOVE rocks ! Been dragging rocks home from all over the U.S. I very rarely sell one of my rocks; I have this lovely round rock that I found in the Kern River in California, about 20 yrs ago; the thing is a bit bigger than a basketball, and just as perfectly round, only it's "oblate"; (think of a basketball with a 200 lb guy sitting on it); it's still round side to side, just not as big, top to bottom; this rock is like that; it's very smooth, after a few million years in the Kern River, (where rocks the size of houses get moved by the water every spring) Anyway, I took the rock to the antique shop, where it sat for a year or two, and people were always trying to buy it. (Everyone had strict orders, DO
NOT sell Charley's big rock !) It's just to "look at" ! Finally Miss Arlie says one day, "you have LOTS and LOTS of rocks ! Why don't you sell one now and then ? I thought about it some; no way am I gonna sell my round rock from the Kern River ! But I MAY sell a big snow white quartz rock from Arizona; (I have a few of them) So I took this beautiful white quartz rock up, put a sign on it, "Mingus Mtn. Arizona, 85 lb white quartz rock, $100; (firm) (I'm thinking, no one is gonna pay a hundred bucks for that rock !) ( I was wrong...........some d****d lady bought my rock !) But I still have the big round one from the Kern River.
If I ever get out to Vegas with my Dodge dually, I may take that big round rock to Rick's pawn shop and ask him what he'd "loan" me on it ?
Anyway, that's how pawn shops and antique shops "work"; they just sell "things" that used to belong to "someone else" to "somebody else".
Stupidity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result; Albert Einstein