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Tough economic times boost pawnshop business

Posted February 23, 2009
Updated March 9, 2009

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— The nation's deepening recession has boosted business at Triangle pawnshops. People are selling their possessions for cash to pay bills.

"As long as you have an ID, you can get quick cash here,” said Jim Slaughter, with Zebulon Jewelry & Pawn.

Pawnshops thrive as economy dives Pawnshops thrive as economy dives

Some Wake County pawnshops report a 25 percent or more increase in business. With such a heavy influx of merchandise, shop owners say they must be careful not to buy themselves out of business.

"Now, at best, you are going to have to roll your numbers back,” said Dave Beck, with Plaza West Jewelry & Loan.

The most popular item at pawnshops is gold. Slaughter says the market for the precious metal seems solid.

Another familiar offering is tools from out-of-work construction workers. There are so many, some pawnshops turn some of the items away.

"How many circular saws can you use?” Beck asked. The tools started coming in heavily about four to six months ago, Beck said.

In addition to buying people's goods, pawnshop owners hear a lot of sad stories at the counter.

"This world out there right now, it is tough," Beck said. "Sometimes it is a matter of someone trying to keep the lights on."

Some of the pawned watches and jewelry have been in families for years.

"It does make you aware that there are people who are struggling,” Slaughter said.

With pawnshops, customers can also borrow against their goods and pay off their loans and fees to get the goods back.

Pawnshop owners say they try to turn away very few items. Slaughter said a man recently brought in an air compressor. The shop already had four for sale, but he bought the compressor anyway to help the man out.

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  • tullamore92 Feb 24, 2009

    Are you serious?! Did Owens actually portray the pawn shop owner as some sort of hero??? "The shop already had four [air compressors] for sale, but he bought the compressor anyway to help the man out." I'd love to know what this "hero" paid for that compressor. I'll bet it was somewhere around 10 - 15% of its actual value. Pawn shops profit off the misery of others; it's their business model, and don't think for a second that these parasites aren't LOVING how things are going right now for a lot of folks. Adam Owens, you are pathetic.

  • RideItOut Feb 24, 2009

    Most of the tools pawned off are stolen. I know, I see it happening at the job site more frequently now. It would be ridiculous to pawn your saw when you are looking for work. What would you do when you find work, gnaw the wood like a beaver?

  • colliedave Feb 24, 2009

    This is proof the market is working as it should. In better times would there be a story on how pawn shops are struggling for business? How about a story on the steps these places take from buying stolen goods. Just more of the feeling-driven media that put The Messiah into office!

  • grayboomerang Feb 24, 2009

    Totally agree with the first poster. And this is news? Thanks for the reminder that our economy is in the tubes, I had forgotten this AM.

  • trunkmonkee1971 Feb 24, 2009

    And the "Mr. Obvious" award goes to WRAL's Adam Owens.....