Used to run a pawnshop, now I write odd little articles on the internet.
Ten Tips From a Professional Pawnbroker
After over a decade in the business, I am going to share with you some of the best ways to get the most for your stuff at your local pawnbroker. There are a few things you can do before you walk into any shop that will put you ahead of most people seeking a loan.
1. Be Nice
It isn't hard! I know this may sound way too simple, but it's true. If you are kind to the people working the counter, it is going to go a long way in getting more for whatever you have brought in. People who work in pawn shops see strange people do strange things all the time. Being kind and normal overall is going to help you out.
2. Clean the Items You Wish to Sell
Nobody wants your gross stuff. Most pawn shops are going to clean items they get before they put them out for sale. It is just a part of the business. But if you can save them some time, they will appreciate it.
Think of a pawnbroker as any other potential buyer. Some of the value they are going to try and get from the item comes from its condition. If it is missing pieces, broken, or just dirty, you are going to get far less for your item. This includes jewelry too. The cleaner it looks, the more money you are going to get.
3. Don't Explain Why You Need the Money
Keep your business to yourself. Humans have a crazy desire to tell everyone around us why we are doing what we are doing sometimes. Most of the time, that's fine, but I promise the guy working the counter has heard everything before and is probably pretty calloused at this point.
What you get for your item will probably have nothing to do with why you need the money. In the pawn shop, especially for a first-time customer, all that matters is the item and its value. You'll save yourself a lot of trouble if you keep it to yourself. Plus, it is no one's business anyway.
4. Look at What the Store Sells Before Bringing in Your Items
You'll need to find a store that is interested in what you have. Your item's value will be relative to what a pawnshop mainly deals in. You can tell pretty quickly what stores are going to be known for when you walk in.
If you have a fine piece of jewelry, the shop down the street with wall-to-wall guns might not be your best bet. You could try! But I think you'd find more success going to a different shop. Most stores will tell you what they specialize in on their signs. If they don't, you can always walk in and see what they have for sale. It isn't weird at all to ask a shop worker what they like to loan on or buy. Most places will probably have an answer for you.
5. Don't Try to Sell Seasonal Items at the Wrong Time of Year
Selling AC units in winter isn't going to get you rich. Are you pawning or selling a portable AC unit? Then September probably isn't the time for that. This is, again, something you can ask. Some stores will try to stock up on stuff they know they will need in a few months whenever those items come out of pawn or become eligible for sale. Sometimes the things pawn shops want will surprise you. It never hurts to ask, but be prepared that seasonal items will have seasonal prices.
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Even items you can use all year round will be subject to cycles. For instance, if you sell a pawnshop your TV outright a few weeks before tax return season, you will get way more for that TV compared to selling it at other times. Pawn shops will sell huge numbers of TVs right around tax time, so they are known to stock up beforehand. It never hurts to ask.
6. Never Take the First Offer (at First)
There is usually more money on the table. Sometimes the first offer really is the best offer. Many pawnbrokers will just cut to the chase with you, especially at pawn shops that are part of bigger corporate chains. But that doesn't mean you should ever just take that offer.
Always have an idea of what you want vs. what you are willing to settle for. If they hit in-between those numbers, see if you can get them to get a little closer to what you want. No pawn shop is going to be surprised of offended if you try and get 10 to 20 percent more out of them. When you ask above that you can risk seeming unreasonable and the pawnbroker just sticking to their original price.
7. Be Prepared to Walk
Never be afraid to leave without doing any business. Some shops are bad actors in the industry and actively try to manipulate and cheat people. If you get a bad vibe or they make you feel like you are wasting their time, then it is time to leave. Chances are there is a shop down the road that will be better anyway.
8. Do Your Research
A little bit of research could save you a headache in the long run. If you have an item with a clear model number and name, you can easily do some internet research beforehand to get an idea of what it's going for.
Go to eBay, type in the item they are trying to sell, and check completed listings. This last step is important because unless it has actually sold on eBay, it is not what the item is selling for; it is what it is trying to sell for. Once you see what the item is going for on eBay, you have figured out what the shop is probably looking to sell the item for if they had to. The offer they give you on that item will probably be a percentage of that. That percentage is based on how well that item sells and how fast it sells.
9. Be Realistic
Understand how it works. I know whatever it is that has gotten you to the point of taking your stuff to a pawn shop may not be the best scenario, but you have to understand these shops operate to make money. It is all about what they can make off of each item.
People who walk into pawn shops expecting a discount can usually find one. If you ever wondered where that steep discount comes from, it comes from you when they buy the item in the first place. This is never going to be the best deal you can get from selling your stuff. You will almost always make more money selling things privately, though if you need cash fast, a private sale may not be an option.
10. Ask About Consignment
See if this option may work better for you. Some shops may offer consignment in which they sell your item in the store and pay you a part of the amount they sell it for.
This can pay off better than outright selling or pawning something and allow you to have a little more control. This will take time, however, and doesn't offer you cash right away, so it isn't the best option for cash now.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.