Who could have possibly foreseen the reemergence of pawn shops as a place of major cultural interest? It wasn’t too long ago that pawn shops were just like any other storefront you’d see in many cities or strip malls across America. But with the tremendous popularity of hit TV shows like “Pawn Stars,” more people than ever are becoming aware of these otherwise nondescript stores, where rare and valuable items may be waiting for them. Now, it’s important to point out not every pawn shop has Elvis’ jacket in its inventory, just waiting for you to come by and scoop it up with a (very large) check. In fact, most pawn shops don’t have “buried treasure” so to speak. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t a great place for thrifty shoppers.
Let’s face it. In this economy, any place where we can find ways to save money is a plus. Pawn shops offer two avenues for people on a tight budget. They can pawn some of their stuff to get cash that they can use immediately for important purchases and they can find items at low prices. If you’re the type of shopper who has a sharp eye for deals, making a stop at your local pawn shop is a good idea.
Whether you’re looking for a Gainesville pawn shop or a San Pedro pawn shop, the advantages are the same all across the country: you’re going to find some useful stuff on the cheap. The industry term is “pre-owned merchandise.” But what that translates into is “An iPad for a fraction of the price.” Or, at least, it could. Every visit to a pawn shop is a roll of the dice, but that’s what makes them so interesting. The success of “Pawn Stars” and similar shows has tapped into something Americans have forgotten about: discovering the unexpected. Now with online shopping, people are used to getting exactly what they want, when they want it. But there’s something to be said for finding something you weren’t even looking for and being pleasantly surprised. Combine the random luck, with low prices and you can see why the idea of sifting through a pawn shop’s inventory can be a great way to spend part of an afternoon.
Can you find rare, hard to find baseball cards? It’s certainly possible. But it’s more likely you’ll find a pretty cool guitar or piece of jewelry for a low price. Pawn shops occupy a curious place in 2013. TV shows really can make anything old, new again.
Jake Alexander is an avid blogger, who specializes in writing about finance and business. Follow him @JakeAlexander17.