The Pros & Cons of Pawn Shops

While most of the retail industry has been trying to stem the bleeding from the weak consumer, pawn shops have been thriving.

It makes sense, really. With times as tough as they are, people are looking for easy deals and quick cash – and pawn shops provide both. While there’s a certain amount of “shady” factor we associate with pawn shops, the landscape has changed with the times. Think of the modern day pawn shop as a marketplace – a real-life eBay – where you can buy or sell anything from Cartier watches to acoustic guitars. Some pawn shops will even make (very expensive) payday loans.

The big advantage of a pawn shop over an online equivalent, like eBay or Craigslist, is that, as a seller, you get the cash quickly. But you also pay for that desperation. Chances are a transaction through a pawn shop will net you only a quarter of the going retail price of any given item. That Kodak digital 8 pixel camera you’re trying to sell? Around $100 retail, but you’ll be lucky to snag $25 from a pawn shop.

For buyers, pawn shops aren’t always the bargain they say they are. An On the Money price comparison found that that same Kodak digital camera will cost anywhere from $150 to $175 at the local pawn shops, but $50 to $75 on eBay.

As is usually the case, the bottom line with pawn shops is that timing is everything. If you can wait for your money, use the web to sell your goods. If you need the cash now, they’re always an option.