Archive for September, 2010
Wednesday, September 29th, 2010
From NBC San Diego Dot Com
Getting By in a Pawn Shop Economy
As times get tough, a whole new customer is walking through the door
By BOB HANSEN
It’s a place for people to trade family treasures for a few bucks and has a reputation for attracting the down and out. But pawn shop business owners say that’s not true.
The recession is driving more people to the pawn shop. It’s a place where that old guitar or new watch can mean money in your pocket and in today’s economy, that old pawn shop is getting a new life.
Jeff Bernard’s Palace Pawn Shop is full of yesterday’s treasures. Items pawned and lost. But he says don’t get the wrong idea.
“Most people think people come into a pawn shop, they pawn their stuff, the poor souls come out, they’re gone and never see the end of it. And that is absolutely not true, that’s not how we operate,” Bernard said.
In fact he says for 85 to 90 percent of the items he takes in on pawn, the owners come back and pay them off.
“People are not pawning to get rid of, people are pawning to borrow money and come back and get it,” Bernard said.
“Well sometimes it’s the only way you can get money,” said Cameron Hoffman who went in to pawn a guitar.
James Ward went in to make a payment.
“I’ve never lost anything. I always come back and pay,” he said.
In today’s economy pawn shop owners, like Ygal Adoto, say they’re seeing more middle and upper class customers coming in for money and the items they’re dropping off are more valuable.
“We used to have a lot more $25, $50 loans. Now we have $500, $1,000, $2,000. People have to pay their rent, their mortgage, big bills,” Adoto said.
He says people eventually get their pawned items back. But it’s taking longer than it used to.
If you need money you can always sell your accordion on Craigslist or eBay, but the folks at the pawn shop say there’s a big difference at a pawn shop.
“People pawn because they don’t want to sell,” said Bernard said.
“You can pawn your stuff, get money and go back and pick it up without getting rid of it,” Ward said.
People who pawn say it means they don’t have to use a credit card. Instead they take out a four-month loan and there’s no car or home to back it up. Instead, they use a power tool, a ring, a watch or an acoustic guitar.
What it will cost you to pawn an item varies depending on the loan amount. You can usually borrow from 20 to 40 percent of an item’s used value. Let’s say you borrow $100 on a wedding ring — it will cost around $23 for a four-month loan. But, you can go in any time to pay off the loan and get your ring back.
There are also deals when buying from a pawn shop and depending on the item, you can negotiate the price. Don’t always offer what on the sticker.
Tuesday, September 28th, 2010
From Caller Dot Com
CORPUS CHRISTI — Corpus Christi police are looking for a man who grabbed a wrench from a table in a pawnshop Monday, ripped off the price tag and sold it back to the store.
Officers were called to the shop about 1:15 p.m. in the 1700 block of Airline Road after reports of a theft.
The store’s manager said a man came into the store carrying a saw and while waiting to pawn the tool, grabbed a torque wrench from a nearby table and decided to pawn it as well, police said.
Employees were able to identify the man who left the store after the transaction, police said.
Detectives from the police department’s property crime unit are investigating.
© 2010 Corpus Christi Caller Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Monday, September 20th, 2010
From Winnipeg Sun Dot Com
By Jason Halstead, Winnipeg Sun
There’s been a picture perfect ending to a seemingly disastrous first day at a new job for a Winnipeg photographer.
Joey Senft, 27, was recently hired as the Garrick Centre’s house photographer and shot her first official gig, the Through the Noise Tour, on Wednesday night at the downtown performance space. She then attended an after-show party at the nearby Royal Albert Arms Hotel, and brought along a bag holding more than $17,000 worth of her Canon camera gear.
After stepping outside the bar for some fresh air — inadvertently leaving her bag unattended at her table — she returned to find it gone.
“I knew everybody that was in the bar, basically, so I just didn’t think it would get stolen,” Senft said. “When I got back, my bag was missing. It was all my camera gear, my wallet, my keys — absolutely my entire life was in that bag.”
To make matters worse, she also lost all the photographs of the show she had taken earlier in the evening. “I thought, ‘That’s great — my first day of work and I have nothing to show for it,” she said.
The graduate of Red River College’s photography program, who regularly shoots city bands, quickly reported the theft to police after searching the bar in vain.
Her gear was insured, but thanks to a Good Samaritan she has it back and won’t have to worry about the deductible. After the apparent thief brought the gear to a Selkirk Avenue pawn shop, she received a phone call Saturday. “He left a message saying, ‘I think I have your camera gear,” Senft said.
Along with her mother, Senft went to Bargain Galore pawn shop in the North End, where she learned the Good Samaritan had immediately thought something suspicious was up when the gear was brought to him. He spotted Senft’s driver’s licence and keys in the bag and paid the seller — who was demanding $300 — $100 for the gear before tracking down the rightful owner.
Senft had been offering a $500 reward for the return of her gear and said she gave the pawn shop worker, whose first name she believes is Tassee, $200 when she picked up her gear Saturday.
“He was trying to give me the extra $100 back and said he just wanted to do something good because he could tell it was something really important to someone,” she said.
Senft said she plans to offer the Good Samaritan the balance of the reward when she next sees him.
“I have to go see him again because I was so excited to get my gear back I forgot to ask what the guy who tried to sell it looked like,” she said.
The Winnipeg Sun was unable to reach the Good Samaritan on Sunday.
Senft said all her gear was still in the bag and the only thing missing was her wallet.
“It’s amazing someone was willing to be a decent person and give me all my gear back, not knowing me or anything,” she said.
Senft, who also works at Henry’s photo store, said she was floored by the initial response from friends and those in the local music community to her loss.
“This whole massive thing on Facebook happened and people were going to put on benefits for me,” she said. “There were four shows in the works for me, which was way too much because I had insurance on my camera gear.”
Wednesday, September 15th, 2010
From News Dot Xinhuanet Dot Com
Watches make good times for pawnshops
By Wang Wen
BEIJING, Sept. 15 (Xinhuanet) — Luxury watches have become the main goods exchanged for cash in Beijing pawnshops in recent years – and business is booming.
At Baoruitong Pawn Shop, which is one of the oldest pawnshops in Beijing, watches on sale in the pawnshop for between 200,000 and 400,000 yuan, represent about 30 percent of its personal goods business, according to Xie Yifan, the director of civilian goods.
“The increase in luxury watches reflects the economic growth of society,” Xie said.
The modern pawnshop has now become a financing channel for owners of small and medium enterprises, Xie added.
Xie said that earlier this month, a client walked into the pawnshop near the North Third Ring Road with a bag of seven watches, all of which were models from the world’s top 10 watch brands. The client wanted to pawn them for 250,000 yuan. Two watches from his collection were enough to get him the money he wanted for his business.
In Huaxia Pawnshop, which is the first pawnshop in Beijing with shareholders, watches represent 30 percent of the personal goods business.
“In the last five years, the watch business has increased almost every day,” said Wang Shulin, a senior technician with Huaxia Pawnshop. “I see luxury watches every day and even several a day recently.”
Thursday, September 9th, 2010
From Guardian Dot Co Dot UK
By Deborah Orr
The pawnshop has been rehabilitated, and apparently this is not even such a Bad Thing. The decline of these seedy outlets was once measured in inverse proportion to the advance of the welfare state, until such businesses achieved vivid attention only when one was reading the novels of Dickens, Lawrence or Dostoevsky, or perhaps the early writings of Orwell, when he was down and out in Paris and London, or on the road to Wigan Pier.
Like the poor, naturally, pawnshops have always been with us, even if for decades now they have been thin on the ground, their unappealing window displays of little-loved jewellery sending a siren call to few. These days, they look different. The window displays are more sumptuous, for obvious reasons. But beyond the padded velvet display panels, pawnshops now resemble banks, with neatly barricaded counters looking more like the product of professional efficiency than of careful security. In recent weeks, even the gentle reader of the Telegraph has been advised to consider the pawnshop as a decent option when cash-flow problems occur, handy for securing one-off payments for school uniforms or, on occasion, school fees, and considerably cheaper than risking bank charges on unsecured overdrafts.
How crazy is that? In theory, bank loans have never been cheaper, with interest rates as close to zero as one could wish. Except that the banks are not lending and people are still borrowing. Since 2003, the number of pawnshops in the country has increased from 500 to 1,300, holding a loan book of around £192m. Britain’s biggest chain of pawnbrokers, H&T, last week announced a 71% leap in half-year profits, up to £14.5m from £8.5m in the first half of 2009. While the majority of customers are seeking loans of less than £100, and more than two-thirds live on a household income of less than £300 a week, industry insiders also report an increase in custom from businesspeople.
And the ghastly truth is that the Telegraph is right. Pawnbrokers are these days a comparatively solid option. If you go to a pawnbroker, then monthly interest payments range from five per cent to 12%, with a loan of £100 over six months attracting an APR of 70% to 200%. If you have nothing to pawn, though, and you instead go to a pay-day loan company – otherwise known as a “legal loan shark” – you could find yourself faced quickly with an APR approaching a stratospheric 3,000%. The appalling truth is that these companies too have proliferated in recent years, offering loans over the internet or via the mobile phone, and filling the gap left as bank loans became harder to secure.
The Consumer Finance Association, which represents most short-term loans firms, told the Metro newspaper this week that: “People want to borrow a smaller amount of money for their immediate needs and desires and pay it back quickly. If this is not a product people really like, then why is there the growth? We really don’t want to lend to people who can’t pay back and we don’t lend to people who aren’t in work.”
The Consumer Credit Counselling Service has another tale to tell though, as the Metro pointed out. Somebody is lending to people who aren’t in work, because the charity says that one in eight people contacting them in the first half of 2010 were claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance, owing an average of £15,412 in unsecured debt each. Poor, poor buggers. Credit crunch? We ain’t seen nothing yet.
Remarkably, however, there are strong arguments suggesting that little can be done. The government is already committed to taking action on the high interest rates that have for years been attached to credit cards, store cards and overdrafts, while plans to discuss capping the cost of credit more generally have been tabled at both the Labour and Lib Dem conferences this autumn. Yet a recent report from the Office of Fair Trading has already rejected the suggestion of price controls because suppliers might recover lost income by introducing or increasing charges for late payment or default. A further worry is that if the legal market is attacked, then truly unscrupulous lenders could flourish illegally, leaving the vulnerable open to intimidation and violence. The thought of such a scenario chills the blood.
The left-of-centre pressure group Compass is already running a campaign anyway, supporting price controls and arguing that they are already in place in Germany, France and Poland. Compass is also asking for the establishment of a People’s Bank, administered via the Post Office, or a National Credit Union. It wants all banks to commit to providing universal and affordable banking services, like the Cooperative Bank’s Cashminder account as well.
Such ideas have long been resisted by most high-street banks, which benefit from the fact that more or less every citizen is obliged to have a bank account if he or she is to exist in the real economy, but remain happy to cut people adrift if, for a time, their custom becomes unattractive.
The great irony, of course, is that it was the development of financial instruments which allowed loans to be made to people with little concern as to whether they could be paid back, that caused the credit crunch in the first place. Yet while politicians are fond of saying that the credit crunch was a worldwide phenomenon, the truth is that no nation embraced consumer borrowing more enthusiastically than Britain. It’s a way of life now, and it is out of control. People have been urged to believe that there is no shame in debt. On the contrary, people have been urged to believe that only the naive and pathologically careful lived any other way.
This present situation is terrible – legitimate operators are allowed to behave like cowboys, for fear first that if they are reined in at one point in the operation they will move their excesses to another part of their operation, and second that if they are bludgeoned into respectability, then criminals will step into the breach.
But beyond such specifics, there is a further problem – the worry that curbs on any commercial activity will “slow the recovery”. The hard-up must be allowed to get the cash to purchase what they need, whatever it costs them. So commerce of this kind flourishes. Pawnbrokers really are more straightforward and civilised than the unsecured loan guys, which is in part why they have quickly become quite respectable. Britain may well become a nation of shopkeepers again. But the shops will have three golden orbs dangling outside them, and will sell to their customers the stuff they own already. Here comes that private sector expansion. Grim.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010
Thursday, September 2nd, 2010
Frow WSET Dot Com
Reporter: Shelley Basinger
Lynchburg, VA – A downtown Lynchburg business is celebrating an incredible milestone. This month marks the 120th anniversary of L. Oppleman. It’s the oldest pawn shop still in existence in the country.
“It seems like I just did the 100th anniversary, but I guess time just flies,” owner David Somers said.
While you’ll still find David Somers behind the counter, he has handed over most of the shop to his son Ryan.
“I love coming to work everyday. And after being here about six years, I wouldn’t want to do anything else,” said Ryan Somers.
That makes three generations running the same business. David took over for his dad in the 70s. Aaron Somers bought it from Ike Oppleman in the 30s.
“The company was started in 1890 with Jacob Oppleman, named after his wife Lena. That’s why you have the ‘L’,” said David.
For 120 years – the L. Oppleman name stayed the same. But the Somers family knew they had to change with the times.
“Ebay has been a new aspect, selling online, which has really grown. We have a tax service now where we do instant refunds,” David said.
New deals like “Oppleman Bucks” allow pawn customers to get a refund of their interest to use in the store. And Ryan uses his computer skills to reach out on Facebook and Twitter.
“It’s good advertisement, a lot of the kids are doing that these days,” Ryan said.
But the best advertisement is being able to claim a nationwide title.
“We’ve held up as the oldest pawn shop in existence, I mean, I’d be happy if we were the 6th oldest… so that’s pretty exciting for me,” David said.
Owners at L. Oppleman say they are considering expanding, by offering a second location in the city.
They’re offering special anniversary deals this month. One-hundred-twenty select items in each department are being marked down to $120.