How to Shop For a Deal at a Pawn Shop

How to Shop For a Deal at a Pawn Shop
  • Opening Intro -

    Pawn shops have a seedy reputation, one that isn’t entirely deserved.

    These shops have been used to fence stolen goods and they aren’t always regulated as strongly as traditional retail shops.


Although not mainstream, acceptance of pawn shops and what these merchants do has risen dramatically especially since the last recession. As a customer you can find deals at a pawn shop; here is how:

Product Consideration

Set foot into a pawn shop and you will find a variety of products ranging from household goods to jewelry and from guns to camera equipment. Just as the product variety can be all over the place so can the quality of the goods offered.

You need to understand every product you are considering and its fair market price. The same information pawn shop owners have access to for pricing is available to you online as well. For example, a visit to eBay can give you a good idea if the Nikon d5400 DSLR camera is worth $200 or if it is listed too high. For more expensive items such as artwork or high-end jewelry, an independent appraisal should have been conducted. Ask the owner to present one to you.

Pricing Peculiarities

Know that pawn shop pricing is typically much lower than retail, but higher than what you would pay in a private sale. You will definitely save money on pawn shop goods when you compare these items to retail and for the following three reasons:

First, because the item has typically been used.
Second, because pawn shop overhead comes in lower.
Third, there are fewer middlemen in the buy-sell equation.

You probably will still pay more at a pawn shop than you would at an estate or yard sale. Then again, the depth and breadth of pawn shop inventory outstrips garage sale offerings many times over.

Tag Dates

You need to keep in mind that pawn shops must turn over inventory to make money. All those goods locked behind glass cabinets, hanging on walls or placed on shelves do not earn the pawn store owner money until they are sold.

Those items that have been around longest are typically priced to sell. You can know exactly when the item was entered into inventory by examining the accompanying tag. The longer it has been around, the more likely you will receive a lower price.

Haggling Matters

Unlike most retailers, the price on goods is simply a suggested retail price. Pawn shop owners expect you to haggle by negotiating for a better price.

You should know that the price on any item is usually priced toward the higher end of the price spectrum. This gives the pawn shop owner some wiggle room as you negotiate for a lower price. If you meet somewhere in the middle, you will both win. And do not worry about the pawn shop owner as she will still make money.

Become Knowledgeable

Some people are intimidated by pawn store folk, especially by their body piercings, tattoos and coarse language. Of course, not every person fills that stereotype and most are eager to complete a sale. Get past pigeonholed thinking and you are likely to find a savvy business person who will challenge your perceptions.

See AlsoHow to Earn Cash Fast!


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Categories: Consumer Tips

About Author

Matthew C. Keegan

Matt Keegan is a freelance writer and editor as well as publisher of "Matt's Musings", his personal blog. Matt covers campus, consumer, business and financial topics on various websites and blogs, and has been published in the "Houston Chronicle", "Sam's Club Magazine" and "Wisconsin Golfer".