9 Ways To Find The Best Pawn Shops Near Me
Sometimes unexpected expenses pop up, and sometimes we find that our paycheck just isn’t going to cover all of our expenses for the month. Ideally, we would have an emergency fund for situations like these, but not everyone does.
When we need money fast, we might turn to a quick and easy solution – like a payday lender or a credit card cash advance. These high-interest options can be a costly mistake, and often cause borrowers to spend more in the long run.
Something a lot of people who need money now might not consider is pawn shops. You hand over an item, and the pawn shop gives you cash. If you repay the money before a set period of time, you get the item back. If not, the pawn shop keeps the item and sells it.
You can also just sell your items outright without intending to return and buy it back, and – if you do – you may get more money than if you pawn them. Pawn shops do charge interest, but the rate is usually relatively low, and certainly lower than a payday lender or credit card company would cost you.
Sounds pretty good, right? Because needing money fast can happen to anyone, we’ve put together this list of all the ways you can find a pawn shop in your area.
How to Find the Best Pawn Shop Near Me
If you’ve never been to a pawn shop, you might think of a dark, dingy shop in a run-down strip mall on the wrong side of the tracks. And those kinds of pawn shops do exits, but they’re not all like that.
If you’re looking to pawn some items, don’t just go to the pawn shop closest to your house. Know what makes a good pawn shop before you start Googling “Pawn shops near me.”
In order to get the best deal and the smoothest experience, these are some easy steps you can take.
1. Find Out if the Shop is Licensed
Pawn shops are required to follow several laws and rules. They must adhere to federal laws, comply with IRS regulations, the Truth in Lending Act, and the Patriot Act.
Additionally, pawn shops are licensed at the state and local level. A legitimate pawn shop will have a pawnbroker’s license, and many will also have a secondhand dealer license and a general business license.
You can search for business licenses here.
2. Check Out the Reviews
You can’t use review sites like Yelp as gospel truth. People are much more apt to complain about a bad experience than to rave about a good one.
A negative review could be from a customer with unrealistic expectations (a nice way of saying a customer who is a flat out jerk) or a person who has never even visited a business but has some kind of personal ax to grind against the owner. And super-glowing reviews could be from the business owner, their friends, and family.
So a good rule of thumb is to disregard crazy, ranting complaint reviews and overly wonderful reviews. What you’re left with will usually be an accurate enough review and what most people can expect when patronizing a business.
3. Ask Your Neighbors
We don’t mean knock on their doors and ask. That would be a little too forward! You can create a post asking for recommendations on local Facebook pages in your area and your neighborhood on Nextdoor.
4. Window Shop
No, you’re not buying anything, but you can still stop by pawn shops in your area and browse around. This way you can get a sense of the shop; is it clean and well-organized, what are they selling (so you know what kind of items they accept)?
Stick around long enough to observe some customer interactions. Is the staff helpful and respectful to the customers? We all have a sixth-sense, and you can get a feel for a place pretty quickly. Within a few minutes, you should be able to tell if this is the pawn shop you want to work with.
If there are other businesses very nearby, go in and ask the employees (when they’re not busy) about the pawn shop. Maybe they’ve done business there themselves and can really give you the scoop.
5. Find the Right Pawn Shop
While most pawn shops deal in general merchandise, they often specialize in a few particular items; electronics, musical instruments, power tools, or jewelry, for example.
Rather than just searching for “pawn shops near me,” try to find a shop that specializes in what you plan to sell or pawn. You may get more money for your item when the shop understands precisely what it is and how much it’s worth.
6. Research Prices
Once you find a few pawn shops that you think are good ones, do some research to learn the value of the item you’re pawning or selling. You want to make sure any offers you get are fair. eBay and other similar auction sites are good places to learn the resale value of your item.
If you’re trying to pawn or sell something quite valuable, like jewelry or artwork, it may be worth it to take the item to an appraiser to find out the value from a neutral third party before you start shopping it around at pawn stores. Bring any documentation from the appraisal with you when you’re ready to pawn your item.
7. Understand the Terms
Before you bring your item into the pawn shop, ask an employee to explain the terms if you’re planning to pawn rather than sell your item. Everything should be clearly laid out for you; the interest rate, any additional fees that you may be charged, and how much time you have to pay the loan back before your item is forfeited and becomes the property of the shop.
If the person is unwilling to explain things clearly, it’s likely time to go to another pawn shop in your area. This should be a pretty straightforward transaction without lots of hidden costs or fees that are sprung on you at the last minute – and a legitimate pawn shop would keep things honest.
8. Shop Your Items Around
Don’t just take your item to the nearest pawn shop and call it a day. If you were taking out a personal loan or wanted to refinance your student loans, you wouldn’t take the first offer you saw. You would shop around for the best deal.
Once you’ve found a few good shops, take your item to each of them and see how much they offer you. An offer isn’t binding. If you don’t think it’s fair, you can walk away. Even if you do think it’s appropriate, you should still shop the item around. You need money, so of course, you want to get the most money you can.
We did an entire article on how to get the best price for your items at a pawn shop.
9. Do Business With a Pawn Shop You’re Comfortable With
A pawn shop can be fully licensed, have great reviews, and look tidy and well organized. But if you have what is scientifically known as “a bad vibe,” it might be best to walk out and take your business elsewhere. There are likely several other pawn shops in your metro area, so trust your gut and try to deal with businesses that seem honest.
What Makes a Good Pawn Shop?
What makes a good pawn shop isn’t that different from what makes any other kind of business a good business to patronize. It’s appropriately licensed, it has a good reputation, the people who work there are knowledgable and respectful to the customers, it’s pleasant inside, and you feel that you were given a fair deal.
Often, if you need to pawn something, you’re under some stress and perhaps not in the best frame of mind. You want to make a difficult situation as easy as it can be and finding a good pawn shop that quickly and reliably processes your item will help you do so.