San Diegans in Need of Money Turn to Pawn Shops

NBC 7 Responds looks at how pawn shops are becoming lifeboats for people in need of money.

NBC Universal, Inc.

We're all feeling the impacts of high inflation and gas prices, but some families are deciding between paying bills or putting food on the table. In that situation, family mementos and inherited antiques are helping people stay afloat.

"Just the other day we had a customer walk in with a TV," said Moris Adato, owner of Cashco Pawn Shop in City Heights. "She was holding a 32-inch TV to bring in for $35. I asked her what it was for and she said, 'It’s just for more food. It’s not enough.'"

Adato is also on the board of directors for the California Pawnbroker's Association, he says in a typical year a pawn shop might see a 10% increase in sales, but in 2022 he's already seen more than three times as many customers walk through his doors.

"It's quite concerning," said Adato. "In the last 20 years we've been in business, I haven't seen an increase in pawn and loans and people selling their goods as I have this year."

It's not just families either. Adato says some businesses are turning to pawn shops to keep their doors open.

"I have business owners coming in to complete payroll," said Adato. "Restaurants, taco shops, things like that."

This isn't just happening in San Diego either.

"We're seeing it throughout the nation," said Adato. "Everyone is saying the same thing. Pawn shops are seeing a big increase."

He thinks it's because of the kind of loans you can get at a pawn shop.

"If you borrow $100, you pay back $120-$125 in five months," said Adato. "If you can't pay it, you can come in here and just pay that $25 to roll over the loan. If you can't pay that, let the item go and there's no effect on your credit."

That means you aren't on the hook if you don't repay the loan. If you'd rather skip the loan and sell or consign items instead, some pawn shops will also let you do that too.

Also, Adato says pawn shops are required to report each item brought into the shop to give the police department. That helps find stolen items before they're sold and gives buyers peace of mind with their purchases. He's noticed that the number of people looking for a great deal is also going up.

"A pawn shop is a great place to come shopping," said Adato. "You do save a lot of money. It can be half the price of retail."

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