Edit: I somehow doubt I’m the only pawn shop employee to troll the woot forums, yet this is the first thread of it’s kind I’ve seen here. If this is against any woot policy, please feel free to delete this. If it’s just because there aren’t any takers, then I’m sure it’ll get buried soon enough XD Will delete this edit after a couple of days.
I’ve had a couple of people ask for my advice over the past couple of days, so I figured I’d make a thread for it.
I’ve worked in a pawn shop for over three and a half years. This was internationally owned, so there were strict rules and a whole lot of information to learn. During that time, just as a simple sales rep, I learned about a large variety of things that get bought, sold, and loaned on every day. I’ve become at least halfway decent at figuring out how much a person can resale a variety of different things for. So I’m more than happy to lend some advice.
Please keep in mind that every area is different. Some areas sell tools better, some jewelry, some computers. I’m just giving a rough, unofficial estimate of how much I’d price something should such an item come through my store based on past job-related experiences and the information I can find. Nothing I say here is official. So if I’m horribly wrong and you can get ten times as much or only half as much as what I estimate, that’s the reason.
About 98% of the time, no. We’re talking about a business here. For the smaller shops, that means rent and electricity and turning a profit enough to make the shop worth maintaining instead of getting a job at a fast food place. For the chain shops, there’s a certain overhead that’s expected to be had in every sale. If that overhead dips too low, then something isn’t working. Either the items are too highly priced for customers to want to buy, or the store is loaning or buying too high. Something has to change. Unfortunately, there are way too many folks who will get a loan and never be seen or heard from again, so the loan interest can’t be counted on to turn a profit. Typically stores want to make 35-50% profit, though this can waver depending on how high of demand an item is and how quickly the pawn broker believes it will depreciate.
If you have something that’s in high demand, you might be able to work the pawn broker a bit higher than usual. For example, when iPads first came out, we paid at about 75% value because we wanted them on our shelves. As time went on and we had a better feel for the depreciation value and for the demand, we started paying less.
If you build up a solid account with a pawn shop with loans, and come back on time and pick up everything you put into loan, then shops will be more and more willing to give you a higher value, because you’re not a risky customer. A couple of times our store was stuck with a phone that we weren’t going to make a single cent on because of how high the loan was for.
A small tidbit. Getting angry or indignant isn’t going to do much to change how much you’re given. Even those times when the manager gets dragged in and agrees to give you the amount, you can count on employees low-balling you every other time you come in just to be sure there’s that cushion room in case you make another scene. The best way is to be friendly, and maybe to just be open for the reason behind it. They’ll be that much more likely to go out of their way to want to help you out every time then.
Actually, in most states (including WA) that is entirely incorrect.
Buys have to be stored in the back room for thirty days. This is so there’s time for stolen or missing items to be reported to the police and databases can be searched. It’s why any reputable pawn shop will not take in an expensive electronic without having the make, model, and serial number on the item. Also, items on loan must be kept in the back until it is either picked up or defaults, which at my store meant 120 days. It’s why any pawn broker worth their weight in salt will take possible depriciation value into consideration when pricing a loan or buy. It’s also why cell phones and video games are going to be some of the worst things you can bring in, if only because they depreciate faster than a new car >.<
Storage fees tend to be pretty low. If I remember right, my store’s chain had it set to, like, $3 or $5 no matter how much was loaned on the item. Something like that. The interest rate is also something that is set by the state and pawn shops have no real control over. Unless they are breaking the law >.>
Fun tidbit: last I was in the business, WA had the second lowest interest rate in the country, second only to OR.
Most expensive item I’ve taken in? Hrm… probably the 22k 7-day bangles. Seven bangles, very decent weight, each one pure gold. My boss was practically drooling as he verified it for me. If I remember right, it was for an old customer too. One of the few times we had to turn to banker checks.
I’ve always been curious if pawn shops have some sort of protection against receiving stolen property? I know for a fact in my area, there are people that take stolen items to pawn shops for cash all the time. I know there a lot of things that would be hard to determine if it is stolen or not. So if someone were to come into a shop and claim an item was theirs that was stolen (and could some how prove it) would the shop be held responsible or do they have some type of insurance for something like that?
There are wonderful systems in place that involve working directly with the police. Nothing can really be done without an official police report beyond maybe keeping our eyes open though. This is mainly because false claims have been made to screw people over. For example, a couple divorces and they agree that person A should get the ps3. If person B gets really ticked at person A for whatever reason and happened to know that person A had taken the ps3 to the shop, they could go to the shop and try to claim that it was stolen in order to get person A into a whole lot of trouble.http://i.imgur.com/PpTJSGL.png?1 By having to report it to the police first, a whole lot more accountability has to be brought on person B’s shoulders.
Work with the police though, and ask them about checking local pawn shops. The officers we had that worked with our shop were pretty cool people who did their jobs well. Once the item is identified as belonging to the individual making the claim, it gets ear-marked and the person who had brought it in is black-listed from every shop within the company. Sometimes, depending on how bad the descrepency was, other shops would be notified as well. Even in this competitive market, most owners are aware of the dark shadow that haunts them because of how easily people have gotten away with it in the past. The last thing they want is to push people further away because the shop down the street happened to take in stolen goods and didn’t return them. Of course, things slip through the cracks since no system is perfect. The shop I worked for though did everything they could within law and regulations to get items back to their rightful owners. And then you have the smaller shops who don’t have a huge corporate breathing down their neck to make sure everything’s golden and there’s no ammunition for any smear compaigns from competitors >.<
Oh, almost forgot. If for whatever reason you’re unable to get a police report through, but you have the information for the individual item, ask to speak with the manager. The calmer and more understanding you are, the more the manager will bend over backwards to try to work with you. Explain the situation, give as much information as you can. Every time someone did this with one of our managers, he would make a note on the item in the computer system, and when the item was pulled, the person would be called and could come in and buy it back for a lot less than we’d normally price it for.
Please remember though, not all pawn shops are alike. I’m drawing from personal experience in one shop in one area from one company in one state. So things might be a bit different where you are. If you happen to come across a shop and it’s slow, always feel welcome to ask them as well. I was always thrilled to answer questions like this while working there
Useful Tidbit: A lot of shops will have this great pamphlet that allows you to store all the information you could possibly need for your more expensive items, as well as any pictures you might have of the items. If you have any expensive electronics, please please be sure to get down the make, model, and serial number. Most pawn shops with any form of credibility require all three to buy or loan on an electronic. Any unusual markings help as well, such as dents or scrapes. For jewelry, I recommend pictures from different angles, then have it weighed and the karat verified. As with anything else, any unusual markers help as well. These can be kept in your safety deposit boxes in the case of a fire, flood, robbery, etc. They’re wonderful when dealing with the police, insurance companies, and yes, even pawn shop owners.