Life is one big live action RPG.
If you know where your towel is, then you probably know that one of the most vital life skills a hitchhiker can have is scrounge. Scrounge is the knowledge and ability to find needed resources, often from thin air, and by principle at little to no cost.
I didn’t pay a whole lot of attention in high school, despite having mostly honors classes, to a whole lot beyond girls and weed; but I did pick up a thing or two. My Business class teacher, Mr. Nardella, whom to my mind’s eye of memory still reminds me of a crustier Danny DeVito in a resale shop suit, stands as one of the wiser men I have known. He told me that one does not get wealthy, one accumulates wealth, and that a better part of accumulating wealth was what you did not spend. I still haven’t quite got the knack of accumulation wealth. My ancient focus of girls and weed has grown to include cats and booze, but I have inherently because of the aforementioned become pretty keen on not spending.
I am a thrift shop all star. Half my furnishings, and much of my clothing come from resale. Thrift shops are a boon to be sure, but for toys, electronics and so on, the best source of scrounge has always been the pawn shop. I think most of us will have seen the various shows about pawn shops, for those not yet savvy, while they will outright buy used goods pawn shops primarily give loans against collateral. Items like T.V.s and electronics, gold, and a myriad of other things are borrowed against with the agreement that the recipient of the loan pay back the loan with interest. If the person does not come back for their property the pawn shop will sell the loaned goods to recover their funding.
They say pawnbroking is the second oldest profession. There is evidence of collateral loans going back as far as ancient Sumeria. From ancient times to the Medici family, to today, the industry has grown and filled a need throughout its long history. The children’s song “Pop Goes the Weasel” is actually about pawning a suit. Weasel is derived from “weasel and stoat” meaning coat. It was traditional for even poor people to own a suit, which they wore as their ‘Sunday Best’. When times were hard they would pawn their suit, or coat, on a Monday and claim it back before Sunday. Hence the term ” Pop goes the Weasel.”
As a pawnbroker myself if you brought me a suit nowadays I would have to give directions to the front door, but I would take a look at your laptop. If the shop is any good at what they do, the notion is to sell forfeited items at around half of retail. The shop will pay a percentage of the item’s perceived value, so most often when it comes down to buying things they have killer deals. My 65” Samsung TV was $250 bucks. You cannot beat that, although here it should be said that the deal I got reflects insider prices. Normally the price would be a bit higher, but not all too much higher really. That being said, there are definitely advantages of working in the field.
When buying gold and jewelry, there is hardly a better place than the pawn shop. Most big jewelry stores mark up gold and diamonds 800 to 1000% of the material value. Since pawn shops pay a percentage of the actual melt weight of gold, or wholesale value on diamonds, when it comes to purchasing these things yourself the savings can be profound. You’ll also find a far more unique selection than at the big jewelry stores. Vintage and unique baubles often fill the jewelry cases. Truly neat pieces that won’t be found elsewhere.
What treasures you may find at a pawn shop only depend on the imagination of the pawnbroker on what they can make a buck or two on, and very often the knowledge. At the shop I work at, we dabble with toys and collectibles, antiques and oddities. I am fortunate enough at my shop to be in charge of the weird stuff, and the online sales, they even gave me an office. I have had the pleasure of trafficking in such a fun array of really neat things. Rare comic books, vintage toys and action figures, cool antiques, and other such oddities fill the shelves of the back room. I’ll talk more about some of these again soon in another blog.
True or false?: “Pawn shops filled with stolen goods”
False: There is a certain stigma that pawn shops held in the past, in our day and age for the most part none of it actually applies. While in the past this may have been true at times, good pawn shops have always worked with law enforcement to stop the traffic of stolen goods. Modern technology has made this exponentially easier. There is even a national database of loaned and purchased items that is uploaded to police.]
A few simple tips on pawn shops:
- Stop in often- A pawn shop’s stock is dependent on what people bring in to sell, or loans that have been forfeited. If you don’t find what you are looking for, check back.
- Negotiate! Most pawn shops will allow you to haggle for a better deal, take advantage.
- Do your homework- If you are looking for a new TV, for example, research what the ones you would prefer are currently selling for new and used. Not only should you be an informed consumer, by shopping around; a smart phone with a few links to pull up can help you negotiate a better deal.
- Form a relationship with the pawnbroker- A working friendship can lead to even better deals, and a good pawnbroker will take note of the things you might be in the market for, and let you know when they are available.
- If you are clever you can make money picking, having a good relationship with your pawnbroker you can find out what types of things they are looking for. Garage sales and flea markets can yield treasures that pay off, if you know what to buy, and how much you can sell it for.
- As a rule of thumb, always seek out electronics that are less than two years old. Tech doesn’t stay relevant very long these days, there is always a new model on the horizon. Moreover the newer the item, the longer it will last. Always buy major brands. Sure the cheap TV is cheaper, but quite often they are not as well made as the big names. I cite the example that “chocolate sandwich cookies” are not the same as Oreos, at all. A cookie is not a laptop or a TV, but the comparison is valid.
- Test Everything- Just because they say it works, ask to see it work. Shops will of course test out devices when they come in, but it is always a safer bet to see it for yourself.
- When making purchases, be aware of the return policy. Many pawn shops have very limited returns, items being sold “as is” cannot be guaranteed. Buyer beware, but I have personally had very little issue with things I’ve bought from pawn shops over the long run. Being discerning pays off.
- Most shops will trade with you. If you want a new thing, bring in your old thing, or things, to see what they will offer.
- If you are looking to get some quick cash from your items, sell them, do not get a loan against them, unless you simply must have the item back and there is no other way to get the money you need. While the services pawn shops offer can be absolutely helpful when needed, the interest rates are typically very high. If you do take out a loan, know the terms of the loan. The only way you should enter a loan agreement is if you will be able to pay back the principle and interest charges within the first month. It is far too easy to fall into paying monthly charges to extend the loan, this is where pawn shops make most of their money.
- Silver prices have been at a low for the past few years, it is a buyer’s market. If you are into buying silver coins or bullion as part of prepping etc. you probably already know that pawn shops have great deals on silver too. Before purchasing silver, or gold for that matter, always check what the spot/melt price is for the day. Many shops will raise or lower prices according to the daily melt value.
I am sure that there are many folks out there that see a pawn shop on their commute, and haven’t checked it out yet. If you drive past one, and keep thinking to yourself that you ought to go have a look see, you definitely should. You’ll never know what you might find until you do.