When someone mentions pawn shops to you, what is the image that comes to mind? Do you think of one of those rundown little shops with big signs that say Pawn (or Checks Cashed)? Apparently, it doesn’t have to work that way. And pawn shops don’t have to be about poor people scraping the barrel for something for the next meal on the table (or the next shot in the arm). Pawn shops have gone upscale and online. And often, the fashionable upscale people who use them call them the secured loans business.
You would think that the relentless march of technology would at least leave the humble pawn business alone. Not only is the pawn business plugging in today, it’s becoming gentrified as well. There are more and more middle-class and upper-class families (not to mention business owners) who find themselves squeezed for funds in this recession. People aren’t bringing in gold tooth fillings and XBoxes in like they used to anymore. These new customers bring in diamond earrings and $30,000 diamond engagement-rings. Putting yourself in hock isn’t about being poor anymore. It’s just one more thing that people do – like the money people owe all over the place for luxury goods bought on credit.
Of course, people don’t mind this all that much. The interest you pay for secured loans at pawn shops amount to no more than 20% or so most of the time; that’s cheaper than what you would pay on credit card debt sometimes. With the pawn business going mainstream publicly-traded pawn chains are beginning to clean up their act and to put a little glamour into their stores, taking a hint from the retail industry. Basically, seedy one-off pawn shops are having to dress themselves up a little better just so that they aren’t squeezed out of their business by the newly glamorized rich-people’s pawn shops.
If you happen to have been well off enough at one time that the things you wished to pawn might bring in quite a bit of money, you can even ask some of these new pawn businesses to make a house call or to give you a private appointment so that you don’t have to rub shoulders with the riffraff that comes in dragging dirty old barbecue grills and power tools. You get ushered into a snooty-looking private room of the kind that would remind you of a first-class lounge at an airport.
If even this seems rather too touchy-feely for you, you can just call up one of these services like PawnGo, ask to be able to FedEx your Cartier watch and your Gucci wallet to them and send them away when the FedEx envelope arrives. One day later, you’ll have the money deposited in your account. It’s that clean and hands-off.
The great thing about secured loans of this kind is that the credit bureaus never get to hear about them. You could default or not or make as many inquiries as you want. No one’s going to be any the wiser. Not even if you default.