Don’t Lowball Me: The Hidden World of Pawn Shops

[su_dropcap style=”flat”]m[/su_dropcap]ORE THAN 30 million Americans routinely rely on pawn shops. For them, selling or pawning their possessions is the difference between keeping the lights on and living in the dark. But for such a big industry – nearly $15B in revenue per year – there’s very little transparency in how pawn shops work. At PawnGuru, we began to ask questions.

Our first question: how does a pawn shop decide what to offer for an item?

Suppose you gathered every pawn shop in your city and set them next to one another. How much would you expect their bids to differ as you walked from one shop to the next, item in hand?

Far more than you’d think. Last year, we visited eight Detroit pawn shops with a violin, an iPad, a gold ring, and a diamond ring. Items that went for hundreds at one pawn shop got less than $100 at others, or didn’t even get an offer.

Read more: Don’t Lowball Me: The Hidden World of Pawn Shops

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