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Not all pawn shops are created equal. Just as important, not every pawn shop offers the exact same experience. Which is to say, while every pawn shop can buy, sell, and provide cash loans, you need and deserve to work with a pawn shop that treats you well and is willing to work with you. Here are some tips on how to find the right pawn shop for you.

1. Learn How Pawn Shops Work

Your first step is to learn how pawn shops work and how they have been a part of nearly every society throughout history. From ancient times, a community’s pawn shop has been a reliable source of funding, in good times and bad. They have also been trustworthy places to buy like-new or gently used goods at reasonable prices.

When you work with a pawn shop, you can typically do one of three things: buy, sell, or pawn an item or items of value. When you choose to pawn an item, you are using your item as collateral in exchange for a nominal cash loan. When you repay your loan with interest within a certain period, you get your item back, and you can repeat the process later on if necessary. However, if you do not pay in time, the pawnshop resells your item with no additional penalty to you.

2. Read Reviews of Your Local Pawnshop

Before you visit your local pawn shop, take advantage of the internet, and see what your community thinks of the shop. Visit review sites like Google Reviews and Yelp to do some research. Although no high-volume businesses like a pawn shop will please everyone, read some recent reviews to get an idea of what it’s like in the store. Any good pawn shop will have many satisfied customers singing their praises online.

3. Do Your Homework on Pricing

If you need a cash loan, your local pawnshop should be very forthcoming about their loan terms and prices. Look at their website to ensure that this information is clear and prominently displayed.

If you are buying or selling an item, look up the current market value of your goods. Your local pawnbroker should have similar information, meaning that you should get the impression that your pawnbroker has some expertise to conduct a smooth transaction. When you are selling, expect about 40% – 60% of the market value.

4. Look for Your Pawn Shop’s Licensing Information

Pawnshops all over the country must follow state and federal laws, as well as codes from the IRS, treasury department, and even the department of homeland security. Any pawn shop that you are considering doing business with should have multiple licenses. They should also be able to explain or show how they will keep your valuables safe while you are repaying your loan. Be sure to avoid any pawn shop that does not display their licenses or will not provide evidence that all the appropriate organizations license them.

5. Remember that a Pawnshop is a Business

As a business, your local pawn shop always needs to turn a profit. To that end, always remember that the pawnshop cannot offer full retail value. Also, expect to answer lots of questions about any item you bring in to sell or pawn. For example, if you bring in a television, expect to be asked to plug it in and show your pawnbroker that it works as expected. For other items, like jewelry, understand that your pawnbroker may ask for authentication or other certification. They must do this to ensure that not only are they following the law, but that they can resell the item.

6. Choose a Pawnshop in a Convenient Location

Location is an underrated factor in finding the right pawnshop for your needs. First of all, if a pawn shop has been in one spot for a long time, that is a good sign that it is a trustworthy business and is a dependable resource for its community. It is also a good indicator if your local pawnshop has multiple locations within the city or neighboring community.

Secondly, when a pawn shop is close to your home, work, or is generally easy for you to get to, it is more likely that you will repay your loan on time—working with a pawn shop that is out of your way or that you would never see if you did not make an effort can make it challenging to repay and reclaim your item.

7. Pay Close Attention to Customer Service

If possible, before you do business with a pawnshop, visit them in person to check out their customer service skills. Any good pawn shop will want to earn your business and convert you to a returning customer. From the moment you walk in, the staff should be friendly and respectful. They should be able to answer any questions about their policies, as well as their loan terms. They should not pressure customers to sign a contract or to accept a given price.

Generally, the pawnbrokers should be clear about everything they are doing. The sales slips and price tags should be written clearly, and they should be willing to answer questions. They should also never sell an item based on its like-new retail price; all prices should be based on condition.

8. Don’t Hesitate to Walk Away If You Are Comfortable

Even if you get to the pawnshop and something seems or feels off after doing all of the steps listed above, do not be afraid to walk away and look for another shop. Doing business with your local pawn shop can and should be a positive experience for everyone involved. Do not sacrifice your safety or comfort – there is undoubtedly another local pawnshop that deserves your business more and will treat you with the respect and security that you deserve.

If you live in Southern California and are looking for a pleasant, professional experience at every visit to your pawn shop, visit Azusa Pawn today! We are eager to earn your business and will do everything we can to earn your trust.