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. chrissy

    lol @ banasy, i can multi task. @ mama, he says your sweet, and he misses talking to you but he doesnt miss the meaness on the blogs! Go figure that huh? Lmao!

    March 10, 2012 at 12:53 am | Report abuse |
    • dazzle©

      @chrissy, I never "met" him.

      March 10, 2012 at 12:55 am | Report abuse |
  2. dazzle©

    You can find it at a liquor store> I don't know if Walmart has it. It really is good. Let me know how you like it.

    March 10, 2012 at 12:54 am | Report abuse |
  3. dazzle©

    You are a troll! You are not my daughter.

    March 10, 2012 at 12:58 am | Report abuse |
  4. Scottish Mama

    Hamsta do not shop at Walmart, talk about the downfall of civilization, they kill all the mom and pop stores and sell switch and bait, and chinese bullmularky.

    March 10, 2012 at 1:00 am | Report abuse |
  5. leeintulsa

    @banasy: you might find that cd you've been looking for

    March 10, 2012 at 1:00 am | Report abuse |
    • leeintulsa

      i'm not blue.. that's it.. apparently, mobile view makes me blue, not cell phone.. i like to be able to page back, but i miss some topics, i think..

      anyway, b, you won't know you are looking for it until you find it.. you *are* a woman, aren't you?

      March 10, 2012 at 1:22 am | Report abuse |
    • banasy ©

      @leeintulsa: yes, last time I checked, lol.
      I'll have to expand my horizons, then.
      I love a bargain.

      March 10, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
  6. dazzle©

    @hamsta, good. Whiskey is too hard on the body. I can't tolerate it.

    March 10, 2012 at 1:01 am | Report abuse |
  7. dazzle©

    Tori troll, my daughter can spell and you can't. Be careful or I will call you out by name! I am not fooled.

    March 10, 2012 at 1:04 am | Report abuse |
  8. Scottish Mama

    I like the fruitty sweet stuff, the sweeter the better. 7 and & is my favorite.
    Where is bobcat iah? I thought I seen him postin somewhere.

    March 10, 2012 at 1:05 am | Report abuse |
  9. hamsta

    Wow i have my own impersonator.that was not me on the 3 previous posts.but i wonder why they wont allow me to answer scottish mama on the pipeline answer was until alternate energy is readily available blocking the pipeline will only destroy jobs and further destroy the economy.

    March 10, 2012 at 1:09 am | Report abuse |
    • dazzle©

      Oh @hamsta, I thought we were having a nice chat.

      March 10, 2012 at 1:14 am | Report abuse |
    • Scottish Mama

      @Hamsta- I said to you yesterday, they don't have a spill response plan, by a montana farmer, Tom Rudolph.
      The oil emits 3x the greenhouse gases to refine, increases the greenhouse gases by 38 million tons, equvelent to 6 million new cars on the road.
      Air Alliance Houston says that it causes more emissions of sulfur dioxide and particle matter which is worse for alergy sufferers.
      The Canadian – Texas route goes thru some of our most valuable agricultural land in the US. And some of a aquifier, which supplies drinking and irrigation for the high plains.

      March 10, 2012 at 1:21 am | Report abuse |
  10. chrissy

    @ dazzle, i dont believe you have, he hasnt been on the blogs for awhile. But hes a hottie aint he banasy? And soooo funny!

    March 10, 2012 at 1:11 am | Report abuse |
    • dazzle©

      @chrissy, tell him to come back.

      March 10, 2012 at 1:18 am | Report abuse |
    • banasy ©

      Yep! Drak is a cutie, all right!

      We all get trolled.
      Take it as a compliment, lol.

      March 10, 2012 at 1:21 am | Report abuse |
  11. banasy ©

    Hate to tell you guys, but that's a troll hamsta talking about wine...

    March 10, 2012 at 1:13 am | Report abuse |
  12. dazzle©

    @Vladimir, nice try but again I am not fooled>

    March 10, 2012 at 1:17 am | Report abuse |
  13. dazzle©

    Good Night everyone. Any posts by me after this are not me.

    March 10, 2012 at 1:22 am | Report abuse |
  14. chrissy

    Lmao @ dazzle, he wont, i was talking to him while posting and he doesnt miss the crap.

    March 10, 2012 at 1:23 am | Report abuse |
  15. krozar

    People now just discovering them? Pawn shops have been a great place to get musical equipment.

    March 10, 2012 at 1:23 am | Report abuse |
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