Pawn shops' popularity rises with TV shows, down economy
The Van Nuys Pawn Shop in Los Angeles is seeing an increasing number of customers turn to it for short-term loans.
March 9th, 2012
06:43 PM ET

Pawn shops' popularity rises with TV shows, down economy

For years, pawn shops have had a seedy and hopeless connotation: people pawning items for short-term loans because they can’t get a loan from a bank or don’t qualify for mainstream credit. But over the past five years or so, pawn shops have had a whole new light shed on them.

In this down economy, especially with high credit-card and bank-loan interest rates, pawn shop business is up. Pawn popularity also is up because of reality shows like the History Channel’s "Pawn Stars."

(Click the audio player to hear more on this story from CNN Radio's Jim Roope)

"Pawn Stars" features the Gold and Silver Pawn Shop in Las Vegas and its owner, Rick Harrison, who says pawning is banking at its most basic.

"You give collateral on a loan; (if) you don’t pay it back, you lose your collateral, and that’s the end of it," Harrison said. "There is no turning you into a credit reporting agency. There’s no suing you, no garnishing your wages. It’s just that simple."

Cesar Salgato, manager of Van Nuys Pawn in Los Angeles, says that over the past four or five years, his business has increased 60%.

"A lot of the middle class and upper middle class is starting to pawn," Salgato said. "It's incredible, the amount of money that goes out for meeting mortgages and meeting payroll."

Stacey Simons is a real estate broker who was pawning collector plates.

"I needed the money," Simons said, giggling. "Times are tough, and I needed the money."

Simons is a regular customer at Van Nuys pawn.

"This, you can pay every three months. There's a little bit of a fee, and they keep your item, and when you’re ready to get it back, it’s there for you, and it's not damaged," Simons said.

According to the National Pawn Brokers Association, there are 13,000 pawn shops in the United States, and they conducted 30 million transactions last year.

The fees are regulated state by state, but there are federal regulations by which pawn shops must operate. The fees or interest rates can be relatively low.

“On a $1,000 loan, for the first 90 days, you only pay $70," Salgato said. "After 90 days, it goes up slightly to $110. So if you divide that by the four months, it’s a small amount."

Still, pawn shops can charge much more. In New York, pawn shops can charge up to 4% per month in interest, which would come out to a 48% APR, CNNMoney's Poppy Harlow reported. Pawn shops in other states can charge up to 25% per month, Harlow reported.

Get pawn shop tips from CNNMoney

According to the National Pawn Brokers Association, 80% of people who pawn return to recover their items.

You can listen to the CNN Radio Reports podcast on itunes or subscribe to the podcast here.

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Filed under: Economy • Showbiz • TV
soundoff (125 Responses)
  1. Scottish Mama

    @Dazzle- I came in late as usual and saw Tori was in Paris I think? I bet she is having a great time, what kid wouldn't i guess. I saw it in a posts awhile ago. She is lucky, is it for pleasure or studies?

    March 10, 2012 at 12:27 am | Report abuse |
    • dazzle©

      @Scottish Mama, she is studying at the Sorbonne and working for LeMonde. She is very happy and doing well, thank you. Mom misses her though>

      March 10, 2012 at 12:32 am | Report abuse |
    • Scottish Mama

      She seems very fond of you and you both seem very close. Not to be sappy, I know the feeling and mine are in town.

      March 10, 2012 at 12:37 am | Report abuse |
  2. hamsta

    no i am a longshoreman a mechanic and a crane operator

    March 10, 2012 at 12:27 am | Report abuse |
    • Scottish Mama

      What is the difference between a longshoreman and a rough neck?

      March 10, 2012 at 12:30 am | Report abuse |
  3. Scottish Mama

    banasy are you still here? I saw you had a troll on here a couple of minutes ago.

    March 10, 2012 at 12:29 am | Report abuse |
  4. Scottish Mama

    Banasy have you seen Drak, I was wondering if one of the tornatos had been close to his home, I know hw lives close to Carbondale ILL.

    March 10, 2012 at 12:32 am | Report abuse |
  5. Scottish Mama

    @lee I suppose you do not have womans job written in your pants?lol

    March 10, 2012 at 12:35 am | Report abuse |
    • leeintulsa

      @scottish mama: hehe.. i don't know what's in my pants.. hehe.. but she likes it..

      March 10, 2012 at 12:42 am | Report abuse |
    • banasy ©

      @leeintulsa:
      Is the water still deep...and cold?

      March 10, 2012 at 12:56 am | Report abuse |
    • leeintulsa

      mmhmm.. you shouldn't talk like that.. he's just a boy..

      March 10, 2012 at 1:06 am | Report abuse |
  6. chrissy

    @ mama, im talking to him right now, he says hi!

    March 10, 2012 at 12:36 am | Report abuse |
    • Scottish Mama

      @Chrissy who hamsta? or lee?

      March 10, 2012 at 12:38 am | Report abuse |
    • banasy ©

      She's talking to DRAK, Mama, lolm!

      March 10, 2012 at 12:47 am | Report abuse |
  7. banasy ©

    Hi, dazzle©.
    Hey, Mama.
    Agree with the garage sales...I've gotten some great things over the years.
    ARS has paid off!

    leeintulsa, I have never been in a pawn shop; I have seen them on TV...

    March 10, 2012 at 12:36 am | Report abuse |
    • leeintulsa

      @banasy: hella deals on good stuff.. oughta check it out.. do you.. umm.. shop?

      March 10, 2012 at 12:49 am | Report abuse |
    • banasy ©

      No, lee, I have Garçon, my PA/Butler, bring me whatever I need.
      Of course I...um...shop, ya goof!

      March 10, 2012 at 1:05 am | Report abuse |
  8. Eric

    I like water

    March 10, 2012 at 12:39 am | Report abuse |
    • Scottish Mama

      Try wine.

      March 10, 2012 at 12:41 am | Report abuse |
  9. Scottish Mama

    Banasy was philip, schoolmarm too?

    March 10, 2012 at 12:39 am | Report abuse |
  10. banasy ©

    Mama, chrissy talks to him, I don't have his number.
    The tornados were about 350 miles away from me.

    March 10, 2012 at 12:40 am | Report abuse |
    • Scottish Mama

      They rolled to the south of st. louis, Branson and then rolled into southeast Ill. They were strong. Shame about the baby named Angel.

      March 10, 2012 at 12:43 am | Report abuse |
  11. nsaidi

    You all up so late? Glad you're here. All of you. Thanks for reading. nicole

    March 10, 2012 at 12:41 am | Report abuse |
  12. chrissy

    @ mama, lol that would be drak, hamsta only talks crap to me!

    March 10, 2012 at 12:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Scottish Mama

      When the storms rolled past and thru carbondale I thought about him and his boy. Did it miss them?

      March 10, 2012 at 12:45 am | Report abuse |
  13. banasy ©

    Mama:
    Yes. Also Dead Fetus, and the Resevoir dude.

    March 10, 2012 at 12:44 am | Report abuse |
  14. hamsta

    @scottish mama if used loosely the term roughneck can describe any blue collar worker but to be specific a roughneck is someone who installs and operates oil derricks into oil wells rough necks typically work offshore.they call me a longshoreman because i work along the shore loading and unloading ships.

    March 10, 2012 at 12:45 am | Report abuse |
    • Scottish Mama

      K. gotcha. When I lived in Chauvin my bofriend worked offshore. Long time ago.
      @Chrissy say hi for me.
      @banasy thank you again.
      @lee-lol. sounds like your lady knows her way around.
      @Dazzle-studies can be fun.lol

      March 10, 2012 at 12:52 am | Report abuse |
  15. dazzle©

    @hamsta, try Erath pinot noir, not sweet and nice on the palate.

    March 10, 2012 at 12:51 am | Report abuse |
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