I am 24 years old and I am still in college finishing up my degree. I have been working at a pawn shop for over a year now and I am currently a manager/pawnbroker. I have been working on modernizing the concept of a pawn shop for the past few months, and I would like to share what really goes on, and what you could expect at a typical pawn shop.

https://www.facebook.com/FirstCapitolPawn

http://firstcapitolpawn.com/

http://imgur.com/0uwbL06

Comments: 207 • Responses: 63  • Date: 

bloomdido43 karma

Do you have Battletoads?

nashaudax27 karma

Battletoads

Unfortunately no. Older video games we see less and less of

nashaudax17 karma

That is really funny!

rickspawnshop31 karma

Do you have Battletoads?

nashaudax18 karma

Im starting to suspect nobody does

zaphodbeebIebrox22 karma

What's the weirdest thing someone has ever tried to pawn?

What's the most valuable thing that you've bought/pawned?

nashaudax33 karma

A lady once came in and asked if she could pawn her horse, i was flabbergasted for a bit

It is hard to tell what the most valuable thing was, since value varies depending on the person. But the most that I have spent is $25k on a diamond necklace.

However we used to have leather jacket that was signed by Pantera. A lady got a loan for only $20 and kept it in pawn for only $4/month as a form of safe storage

dabbin710errlday12 karma

That storage idea is genius. Will this work anywhere or do most places not?

nashaudax15 karma

You could do it anywhere as long as they use the same system as us. With us, every time you make a 20% interest payment, you extend the loan for another month (so you could keep it in forever). Our lowest charge is $4/month

The only time I would have a problem with this is if the item is unusually large and takes up a lot of room. Other than that I do not see a problem

dabbin710errlday6 karma

What if the item was fragile?

Edit: and thanks for answering.

nashaudax8 karma

That should not be a problem, if i feel comfortable storing the item, i see it as free money

Jbota7 karma

Was it truly a horse or perhaps a duck with a horsehead? Would you have fought it?

nashaudax3 karma

I would not fight a horse, but a duck with a horse head, I would have the reach advantage so I'd do it.

Unfortunately I told her we do not pawn horses so I never found out if she had a mythical creature or not

Darren_Carrigan21 karma

Do you have battletoads?

nashaudax53 karma

(╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻

Fr33z3n19 karma

Are you hoping this AMA goes viral so you can get your own show like Pawn stars?

nashaudax20 karma

This was not the original idea but I like it. If this happens I promise to give back as much as I can back to the Reddit Community

Lets do this gang!

muccy14 karma

What's the weirdest thing someone has tried to sell to you?

nashaudax32 karma

Somebody once brought a stereo amplifier that I had taken to the dumpster that morning

PatrickBecerra9 karma

What did you give them for it?

nashaudax21 karma

An answer they didnt like. it was a very awkward situation

watchthegaps14 karma

Hey, I've called around locally, checked eBay and so on, so I was hoping I might get lucky here. Would you happen to have the game Battletoads by chance?

nashaudax18 karma

No but I have Jazz Jackrabbit

Stereotypy5 karma

LOVED jazz jackrabbit as a kid. is it on a 3.5" floppy or something?

fuck yeah apogee software man

nashaudax2 karma

I had it on a floppy if im not mistaken. Back in the days when i had to type //:win in DOS to boot windows

BossBrownie13 karma

I used to be a pawn broker so I'll ask a few questions.

  1. What's spot at right now and what percentage are you paying

2.If I come in with a 8.7g 9k men's ring what will you give me?

3.Do you do payday or title loans?

  1. Are you an upper, middle, or lower class shop?

nashaudax9 karma

Gold keeps fluctuating around $1200/oz, the most we pay is 80% of the scrap value

on 8.7g 9k ring you would get around $90 at most, however I'd try to get it for less than $60

We do not do payday and title loans, probably because there's a payday loan place 3 stores down from us

We have mostly middle class people, however I also see people from the trailer park that need $20 to eat, as well as upper class people that get thousands of dollars on gold loans

watchthegaps5 karma

8.7g 9k

Best I can do is $60.

nashaudax3 karma

sometimes it is very hard to do this believe ti or not!

GrapheneHymen3 karma

The way I see it, it's on the customer to know what the item is worth and what they will take for it. Every pawn shop I've been to only did verification/appraisals for their own benefit, and would take no chances whatsoever on something being fake. I'm sure not getting that ring in the display case won't destroy the business.

bkh1 karma

You understand the customer is never going to get what the item is actually worth, right?

You do understand that pawn shops are businesses and the entire point is to make money, right?

Or are you one of the many that don't understand the concept at all and think places like on Pawn Stars are somehow ripping people off?

my025 karma

|The way I see it, it's on the customer to know what the item is worth

Um. That's pretty much what he was saying.

nashaudax2 karma

This is correct. If you need a loan or you are selling something you need to have a price in mind. Our policy is that we do not make offers, and if you really force me to throw a price first, it is probably going to be $5-10. After a ridiculous offer of $10, it is funny how people quickly find out they would like a few hundred

seawied12 karma

Battle toads, do you have it?

nashaudax21 karma

no but i heard the Pawn Stars guys have it if you wanna give them a call

nonfish12 karma

Watching you get progressively more pissed off about battle toads as I scroll through this AMA is making this one of my favorites of all time.

nashaudax3 karma

It took me a second to figure out what was going on!!! I find it hilarious!

WizardOfIF10 karma

What measures do you take to avoid buying stolen items?

What do you do if you highly suspect someone is trying to sell you stolen items?

If the same guy is pawning a new bicycle everyday do you turn a blind eye or call the cops?

nashaudax9 karma

With the volume of items that come through it is really hard to prevent buying stolen items. Even if i suspect or even KNOW the item is stolen I will try to buy it, and cheap too. Luckily we work closely with our local PDs and most people that get their stolen stuff back will pay us what we bought that item for.

We are sort of the first defense for stolen items. We provide a paper trail, as opposed to selling something on the streets where more than likely, it will never be found again.

mq668 karma

Why would anyone ever buy anything from a Pawn Shop? Everyone I have been to just sells overpriced used stuff. I have never seen a good deal at a Pawn Shop.

nashaudax13 karma

I'll be glad to clear the air on this one. Most prices at my pawn shop are also somewhat "overpriced". This is compared to craigslist or eBay. The reason some or most prices are high is because we do offer the comfort of purchasing something from a store, with a receipt. Also, there are many "uneducated shoppers" (people who do not research what they are buying) that really only care if they like something and if they can afford it.

Last but definitely not least is the fact that you can negotiate on any of the prices. We LOVE haggling. I promise you that if you walk into my pawn shop right now I will sell you anything for 20% off. Next time you go to a pawn shop, play hard ball, ask for a better deal, offer cash, try to make a joke and maybe pull out a laugh, ask for tax free stuff. We want you to talk to us, and you should! :)

few_boxes7 karma

I usually buy bikes, power tools, guitars from pawn shops. What are some things that people should go to pawn shops to buy?

How do sites like craiglist change the business for you? Are they the netflix to your blockbuster, if not what are the reasons for your to be able to compete with such sites?

What do you feel about your clientele? Are there a lot of druggies or old people? Do you ever feel bad about buying something from someone if they're really desperate?

What are the signs that something you're about to buy might be stolen?

nashaudax10 karma

I would say that jewelry is by far the most efficient thing to buy at a pawn shop, simply because of how ridiculous the markup on jewelry is at jewelry stores. But I would recommend getting anything you do not mind buying used. Just make sure to try it out!

Before I started working I found out that the old concept of a pawn shop and that old methods do not work as well as they used to. People have smartphones and can look up a price on anything online nowadays. The way we dealt with this is reevaluating how much we pay for certain items and pushing more and more items towards our ebay store.

Our clientele consists of a wide variety of people. I have pawned phones and iPads where people get texts about drugs as I take the item to the shelf. It is a really bad feeling when this happens and we have ways we prevent this or we even take action if needed. I would not say that I ever felt bad buying something. Business is business, however I do try to help people who are in a bind and sometimes we do a combination of loans/purchases where we might not make as much money on, but we gain good rep and a new customer.

Some of the signs that an item is stolen is usually people who are in a rush, new clients, people who are out of state, people who pass by, not wanting much for something that is clearly worth a lot, the list goes on

CaliforniaKayaker5 karma

What constitutes a rush? I sold an awesome MacBook Air for a big loss because it was Friday and I had to make rent Sunday.

nashaudax7 karma

People that come in and are very nervous. They look around or they pace around the store as I am looking at the item. It is very easy to tell if people are nervous because theyre in a bind and need money, or they are simply trying to hide.

We also take photos of every person per transaction so that usually is a clear indicator.

GrapheneHymen3 karma

Speaking of phones/iPads, how do you actually value these? Do you just see what it sells for online and go for X% of that or do you have a system that values for you? Do you avoid items that show wear?

nashaudax3 karma

Yeah most items need to be in perfect condition, otherwise you would not get much for them. The goal is to get something for as little as possible. On iPad and iPhones i would probably pay up to 50% of the value, just because they are Apple products and hold their value a bit more.

bobandy477 karma

Something something battletoads.

Anyways, I've always wondered what are the processes in place for vetting potential stolen goods? What do you do if something does turn up as stolen?

nashaudax4 karma

Well, every monday morning I upload all of our data from the previous week on leadsonline.com This is where the police searches for people or items. If a stolen item is found they usually give us a call or they stop in and place a police hold on the item. This means that the item cannot be released to anyone except the officer who placed the hold. From then, if it is stolen, the owner and the officer both come together to redeem the item. Now at this point, the victim of the theft does not owe us any money, but most of the time they are nice enough to give us back what we paid for the item. If they dont do that, then we can file a report against the thief

IllegalToast6 karma

  • What's the oldest thing you've ever seen being pawned?

  • Has anyone tried to pawn off their kids? Other family members?

  • Has their ever been a fist fight because of prices? Anyone break in and steak anything ever? If so, what did they steal?

  • What can you just not sell back to anyone or get rid of - that one item that's been hanging around forever but you just can't seem to get rid of it?

  • How often do you see Pokemon cards? How much will you buy them for/what are they worth?

nashaudax8 karma

  • The oldest items that I have seen get pawned would be old black powder guns, like old muskets

  • Luckily nobody has asked me that question yet

  • Personally I have told people to leave, and have gotten in situations where I thought I would need to fight, but never have. The older guys have, it usually happens when people come in after something emotional or if they're on something. We have never caught anyone stealing, probably because of all the cameras and the fact that there arent many litttle things that could be stolen, most of them are locked behind glass cases.

  • I once bought a Hoveround Mobility Scooter for $100, that we are selling for $400, which is a steal, but I feel like it'll be around forever

  • I have had a few people come in with pokemon cards, but usually we redirect them to a different place. We do not know much about them, and value of items like that is hard to really pinpoint

dirtyrogue4 karma

The mobility scooter thing is a problem because the market got glutted a bit ago when it became a top method of Medicare/caid fraud. Everyone who was remotely eligible got a motorized scooter.

nashaudax3 karma

I wish I would have known that a few months ago haha

PatrickBecerra3 karma

I once bought a Hoveround Mobility Scooter for $100, that we are selling for $400, which is a steal, but I feel like it'll be around forever

This one made my afternoon. I'll try to follow up with you in a year to see if it's still around.

nashaudax7 karma

and if it is still here you will buy it? $200 reddit special

beardedandkinky17 karma

Well I've got a buddy whosan expert on Hoveround Mobility Scooters, I guess I can have him take a look at it and see if its legit...
But there really isnt a market for Hoveround Mobility Scooters right now
assuming it is what you say it is, best I could do is $3.50

nashaudax7 karma

We actually do this a lot, it is like the good cop bad cop technique. If im negotiating on an item, im never the expert, but my coworker is. And vice versa

salacious_c3 karma

Did the person selling the scooter have a hook for a hand by chance?

nashaudax1 karma

No but if im not mistaken he was wearing green tights and a hat

ozone_one6 karma

What are the best repeat characters that come in to your shop? I spent a decent amount of time in a pawn shop outside of Portland doing research for a sociology paper, and there was this pimp that kept bringing in his various young working girls to buy them jewelry - almost a different one every day. Entertaining but cringeworthy since the girls were maybe 15-18.

nashaudax4 karma

We are located next to a casino so I see a lot of people who get loans every day and get them out the same day for 20% interest (if they win at the casino). We also have a lot of contractors that come looking for tools every day.

The most consistent people are the ones who come in and sell gift cards

Cannon497 karma

What percentage do you pay for gift cards?

nashaudax3 karma

Mostly 50%, some stores we give less on (Autozone, Gordmans, TJ Maxx etc)

trichomesRpleasant3 karma

What do you with the gift cards after you buy them?

nashaudax3 karma

We sell them online

acalomin5 karma

Any cool sports memorabilia come through the store?

nashaudax5 karma

Sometimes, not as much as I would like though. Currently we only have a Gale Sayers signed Chicago Bears helmet, a signed Peyton Manning photo, and a basketball that we havent been able to find out who it is signed by

pope_fundy3 karma

If you post a photo of the autograph on Reddit I'm sure someone will be able to figure it out. Maybe /r/whatisthisthing?

nashaudax1 karma

Thank you!

lilshawn5 karma

Would you rather buy something from someone outright or pawn it and have them default?

nashaudax3 karma

this depends on the item. stuff like electronics lose their value quick and the loans are for 90 days, so i'd rather buy electronics and other things that depreciate in value more quickly

however the trade off is that on a pawn, there is a chance that you could bag a very expensive item for really cheap (like if they bring a $2000 guitar but only need $300, and then they either forget about it or can't pay it off

detekk5 karma

Have you ever paid for something that turns out not to be real or not worth as much as you thought?

nashaudax5 karma

This actually happens more often than you think. Things sometimes work perfect when you test out the basic functions but there would be a hidden issue. This is sometimes the case with electronics.

Luckily we do not get burned with fake jewelry too much because our staff is well educated. That is when you have to be really careful

im_always_fapping2 karma

How can you tell what is fake jewelry by looking at it?

Stereotypy7 karma

you can never be for sure for sure without acid testing it like what OP said, but a quick-and-dirty test you can use for gold is just hold it next to a magnet. if it magnetizes at all, or attracts, it's fake. only in very rare rare situations where the karat-age is low and the rest of the makeup is something slightly magnetic will it attract at all. some certain brands of 10k italian necklaces attract slightly, for example.

also even though it says "10k" or "14k" does not mean it's legit. for example, "10k G.F." means "10 karat gold-filled" which basically means it's plated with 10k gold, aka worthless.

sterling silver will almost always have a marking or stamp saying its purity, like ".925 SS" or something like that, meaning it's 92.5% pure sterling silver. I believe some really, really old silver sometimes don't have such a marking however (think like perhaps your sterling silver silverware set that's been handed down since your great great grandparents or whatever).

A lot of pros or people that deal with jewelry on a regular basis can get a pretty good idea on its legitimacy by visually inspecting it also; oftentimes, apparently, fake gold has a different tint to it that the discerning eye can distinguish.

again the only way to know for sure is an acid test though.

nashaudax4 karma

You are 100% correct, GF (gold filled) or GE (gold electroplated) are not worth anything in scrap value.

Silver is also tricky, mainly we only deal with .999 silver, which is found rarely, usually older flatware

I would say that it took me about 3-4 months of actively looking at gold and testing it every day in order to gain an "eye" for it. Right now I am pretty comfortable just using my vision, unless it is a really new piece of jewelry. For larger pieces, we sometimes file into the gold and drop some acid into the crevice, this is one of the safest ways to make sure there is not a thick plating and that a piece is indeed solid gold

chjmor5 karma

You call in a friend who's an expert. Duh.

nashaudax2 karma

I always double check with whoever is with me, even if im sure it is real

nashaudax3 karma

Usually jewelry has markings like 10k, 14k, 585 (14k), 925 (silver) etc etc. After establishing the karat we scrub off a piece of the metal on a special stone and then treat it with an acid to see if it is plated or solid gold.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/like/140911598137?lpid=82&chn=ps

HarrisonChevrolet3 karma

Do you wad or fold your toilet paper?

nashaudax3 karma

I definitely fold. I also stand up, then wipe. Front to back and back to front, you can never be too safe

john_stuart_kill2 karma

and back to front

At this point, you're just mashing feces into your genitals.

nashaudax4 karma

That's a risk im willing to take

Ragnathegreat3 karma

I once found a gold ring on the street in my early teens brought it to a pawn shop they gave me around 200 bucks for it, thats illegal right? I also have another question i read that you dont sell many videogames anymore but do you have battletoads?

nashaudax7 karma

Yes that is illegal, in my pawn shop, you need to be 18, own a valid state ID, and are required to take a photo if you sell anything. Also you sign a paper saying what you have sold. Except when you buy battletoads, we keep those off the books

Ctrllogic2 karma

Why don't you list more of your inventory on your website / ebay. Have you ever given any thought to expending your pawn business by providing collateral loans via the internet? They send you something, you give them a loan, when they pay it off you send them the item back.

nashaudax2 karma

I have only been on board for about a year, and when I came in there was no social media and/or website. We are slowly trying to expand online, but all in good time. I heard something about an online pawn shop, I could look into that!

deeeebait2 karma

Pawn Stars or Hardcore Pawn?

Also, which one of those shows give a more accurate portrayal of the pawn business?

nashaudax1 karma

Hardcore Pawn hands down

deeeebait2 karma

Do people get that crazy at a typical pawn shop?

nashaudax1 karma

not on a daily basis, however it is not unheard of. Luckily we are in a relatively safe place of town and we do not even need bulletproof glass

Heimdall13422 karma

What do you see the most of?

What's the most you've ever sold something for?

nashaudax1 karma

We see a lot of laptops, TVs, Jewelry, and tools.

As for sales, I have had a few jewelry sales that were a few thousand, biggest was probably around 6-7k

JeF4y2 karma

What is something I probably have laying around my house that I don't want/need which you'd love to buy off me?

nashaudax5 karma

I WANT YOUR GOLD!!!

JeF4y2 karma

Interestingly enough, I do have a couple ounces of scrap gold from a pile of old jewelry my wife's grandparents pulled stones from to make other jewelry.

nashaudax1 karma

24k gold is ~$1150 per OZ, so you are sitting on quite a bit

0ctavien2 karma

What is the most expensive item in your shop that you have bought?

nashaudax1 karma

I once bought a necklace for $25k

0ctavien2 karma

How much did you sell it for?

nashaudax2 karma

Enough to buy out the silent partner we had for about 8 years

bidnasman2 karma

Has anyone ever tried to pawn any livestock?

nashaudax2 karma

A lady once tried to pawn her horse

Codemanz2 karma

What do you think of shows like Hardcore Pawn and are they anything like what really happens?

nashaudax4 karma

Hardcore pawn is a decent representation of a regular pawn shop

The things that they show on there and situations that they get into are pretty normal for a large pawn shop. Especially being in Detroit. I have watched it before and maybe a few times did things look super staged.

Edit: elaborated further

Ninjaivxx2 karma

What is your degree in? Do you plan to continue your pawning career after your get your degree?

nashaudax1 karma

I am actually going for a BS in Biology. I am not sure at this point which way I will be headed but I have found out that I do well in sales, marketing, and managing. So maybe getting an MBA after my undergrad

Snakebite72 karma

How common is it for pawn shops to take in the random antiques/old weapons genre of things? There are a bunch of stores in my town, but I've never seen anything close to that interesting

nashaudax1 karma

It depends on the shop. I have the freedom to buy anything for any price as long as i think i could sell it for more. We have a lot of antique malls around us so they control that market in our area

SpadeFire912 karma

What's the most sketchy thing someone has tried to pawn?

nashaudax3 karma

A guy brought a bunch of expensive air tools (Snap-on) but all of the boxes had different last names on them with sharpies

frigginwizard2 karma

What did you do?

nashaudax1 karma

haggled down to a cheap price. Few hours later cops called and put a police hold on them. Owner came and bought them back a day later

DoctorDetroit82 karma

What is the minimum percentage profit you have to make on all sales and purchases? In Pawn Stars, they say it's 26%. In Cajun Pawn Stars, it was closer to 10%. I've yet to hear it mentioned in Hardcore Pawn, but their percentage appears to be somewhere in between.

nashaudax1 karma

We really do not have a minimum on sales, however 10 or 26% sounds pretty low. To me those sound more like interest rates (ours is 20%).

However when I do sell something, I personally try to go for a 1:1 ratio or 100%. But this could vary pawnbroker to pawnbroker

Cap31272 karma

What's the coolest gun you have run across in your job?

nashaudax3 karma

http://imgur.com/lsURBjr

This AR, which has been modded so it is considered a "pistol" and you could concealed carry it

SleeplessinOslo1 karma

What's the most common item you see pawned?

And have you ever taken anything that was pawned with you home (bought it)?

nashaudax2 karma

Most commonly pawned items are laptops, tvs, jewelry and tools.

We have a very friendly working environment, and anythign we want/need for ourselves is kind of "ask and you shall have" (as long as it is not something very very expensive)

jpcsgo951 karma

are the pawn interest rates regulated by the government? at my closest pawnshop all the employees carry handguns holstered, do you guys do the same?

nashaudax1 karma

No, the interest is up to us, and it usually varies by state, but the range is pretty broad. We have the option to go anywhere up to 30%/month

We do not carry them on us, however there is one per person, in some easy to reach areas

2lucki1 karma

Do you feel any guilt charging the interest rates you do, to people that are less fortunate?

nashaudax2 karma

Being a relatively big pawn shop, we have pretty affordable rates in comparison to others. However I sometimes make exceptions and change the rates for certain people (regulars, people i know, people with a recommendation) In the beginning I did feel a little guilt, but I learned how business works and where emotions belong in business

metaphasingit1 karma

White or wheat?

nashaudax3 karma

white, wheat has no significant statistical advantage and tastes worse imo