During Tough Economic Times, Local Pawn Shops Booming

By: Tim Ciesco Email
By: Tim Ciesco Email

As the tough economic times force Americans to stretch their wallets thin, business at pawn shops is booming.

William Weist says just like everyone else, he's finding himself struggling a little more these days.

"I can't even go from paycheck to paycheck," said Weist. "I always have to make up the difference."

And when the times get tough, he says he turns to The Cash Company, a pawn shop on North Avenue.

"I'm always pretty regular here," said Weist. "I don't have a bank or anything to go to, so when I need extra money this is where I go."

Brian Langfitt, the owner of Cash Company, says his shop is there to help people like Weist.

"The pawn business has been a business for a thousand years to help people out in those situations," said Langfitt.

And in recent months, his store and other Grand Valley pawn shops have had to be there for a lot of people.

"We've been seeing a nice increase in loans," said John Leyh, owner of Big J Jewelry & Loan.

"We have noticed that," said Langfitt. "During rough economic times people need to get money for unexpected expenses."

But just how does it all work? First, you need an item like a piece of jewelry or electronic equipment. Then you have to take it to a pawn shop. The pawn broker then looks up the item's value, issues you a 30, 60, or 90 day loan for that amount, and keeps the item until you can pay it back. You can also flat out sell the item to the shop.

"Interest rates are about, on fifty dollars, ten dollars a month," said Leyh. "So if you borrow fifty dollars, it's fifty-five to pick it up."

With banks more reluctant to give loans and with the relatively low interest rates pawn shops offer, owner say those in need of a quick fix should consider seeing them.

"We're a more cost efficient alternative for people other than going to see their banker," said Langfitt.

They say their shops are helping more than looking to get cash --

"My loans are up right now," said Langfitt.

They're also helping those looking to save cash.

"My sales are up right now as well," said Langfitt. "They can still come here and get their electronics or their firearms or whatever they need at a fraction of the what retail stores sell them for."

Pawn shop loans and the interest on them are regulated by the state.

Both Langfitt and Leyh say very rarely are their customers not able to buy pack the items they put up for the loan.

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