"For so many years, people thought we dealt with junk, that we were just old guys behind bars, smoking cigarettes," said McDonald, owner of Frederick Jewelry and Loan. "And that's not the case."
The best part of working at a pawnshop, he said, is being able to help people in need. Eighty-eight percent of pawnbrokers cite pawn loans as their most common transaction, when people bring in an item in return for a cash loan, according to the
"You really do get to help people, there's people that are in a bind," McDonald said. "They don't want to sell their stuff, they just want a loan. There's a million other places they would rather be than standing in front of you asking for money. It's a humbling experience. We do our sincere best to make sure they are comfortable."
Pawnbrokers hold the item for a certain amount of time, giving the customer time to repay the loan with interest. If the deadline to reclaim is not met, the item moves to the floor for sale and the loan is kept as payment in full. According to the
This short-term credit system that doesn't require a credit check can help when people are in a bind, such as when phone bills need to be paid before it gets shut off, said
Other than loans, pawnshops will also immediately take in items that people no longer need, use or want, and if they are of value, brokers will exchange them for cash on the spot, McDonald said. In his store, his merchandise includes
"The poor people that come into the pawnshops are pretty destitute. They are pretty bad off," Zimmerman said. "I see people who come in trying to get
McDonald said shows such as
"We're insured, we're bonded, we're highly regulated by the state," he said. "We do a lot of research, so we don't rip people off. We would much rather sell something for a little less than for too much, because we (rely on) word-of-mouth referrals."
There's also an assumption that people steal items then pawn them, but only a tenth of 1 percent of pawned merchandise is stolen, according to
"I think it's pretty fair for what you're getting because it's on the spot, like on eBay I've got to pay
Merchandise in pawnshops is varied, which doesn't usually make them a destination place for a specific item. McDonald said he is always looking for special pieces to make sure people keep stopping in.
"You never know what you're going to find," he said. "If you think we wouldn't take it, it's probably what we want to see."
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