I’m a pawnbroker in Mississippi. Here’s how pawning works in my state.

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  • Nick Fulton has worked in the pawnbroking industry for 30 years.
  • Pawnbrokers ask for ID as one of their guarantees against pawning stolen items.
  • Unlike movies, where pawn deals can be quick, you may need to be patient during yours.

This essay is based on a conversation with Nick Fulton, a Jackson, Mississippi-based pawnbroker, about the pawnshop industry. It has been edited for length and clarity.

I have worked in the pawnbroking industry for almost 31 years. I was president of the Mississippi Pawnbrokers Association for four years, and before that I was a member of the board of directors. I am also a former board member of the National Pawnbrokers Association.

Nick Fulton in a gray suit on stage.

Nick Fulton.

Network of pawnbrokers



One of the most common reasons people pawn or sell items is due to unexpected bills; it could be medical bills, a flat tire or just current inflation. Gas prices are also a common reason people sell or pawn items now.

If you earn what you did last year and have an unexpected expense, getting a bank loan can take longer than a day. At a pawn shop, you can walk away with cash in hand within minutes. You don’t need to have credit; you just need to have the merchandise to back it up.

Pricing is quite intuitive

Pawnbrokers check sites like eBay and Amazon just like everyone else.

The risk of buying something from a customer lies primarily with the pawnbroker. When setting prices to buy an item, the pawnbroker must ensure that the customer does not want to come back for it. We need to make sure the item is something we can sell later and profit from.

If the item is rare or valuable, such as a Super Bowl ring or some other type of jewelry, the pawnshop should be able to find it and determine its value. Low quality jewelry stones will earn you less money, and higher quality gems will earn you more. Customers can prepare to trade using sites such as eBay, which pawnbrokers also use every day.

Negotiation also depends on how many similar items I have in the store. If I have three TVs and 50 laptops for sale, I’ll be more likely to know more about the TV than the laptop. Rare things bring in more money.

Some items require additional inspection

This inspection may be due to legal restrictions (which vary by state), as they depreciate quickly, and/or to verify their authenticity. Each state has its own set of pawning laws, but the average pawnbroker in the country is $150.

Of course people do try to pawn us or sell us strange items. Someone tried to pawn a boa constrictor once. In the 1500s and 1600s, you could pawn things like bread and potatoes. That’s how pawnshops started, but don’t bring those kinds of items today!

There is also a difference between pledging and selling. You must notify a pawnbroker if you want a loan, otherwise known as a pawn, and want to return for the item. Mississippi state law requires us to hold a pawned item for 30 days plus another 30 day grace period. If a person wants to sell an item, we only have to hold it for 14 days.

There are many items that take longer to determine their value. For example, with laptops, I need to know what model and year it is, how much memory it has, and what state it is in. There are also a lot of counterfeits, so we have procedures in place to test the authenticity of luxury. objects and gold. If you bring a luxury item, you will need to stay in the store for more than a few minutes while we authenticate it.

The best thing you can do if you’re not sure about the process or an item is to call a pawnshop or message through their social media page and ask if they have it. accepted.

Pawnbrokers really care about making sure things aren’t ill-gotten

Pawning or selling an item is a fairly straightforward transaction. A person must have a state-issued photo ID, license, or some sort of state ID that contains the person’s name, address, and phone number in order for us to can establish who she is. This is important to confirm so we can make sure the item belongs to the person. If they don’t have ID, we’re all wasting a lot of time.

Our pawn system is set up so that every morning we upload a description of our goods and our serial numbers to a national database that police across the country can access. This helps catch people who may be dealing with stolen goods.

Once we discover that someone has dealt with stolen goods, it is blocked in our system. We lose money when something is taken from us and seized, so we don’t deal with people who steal things after they’ve been caught.

The work is delicious and you never get bored

It is easier than ever to work in a pawn shop thanks to the Internet. Previously, you had to check the newspapers on Sundays to check the value of an item. The training of our employees is an ongoing process. We train them to check Rolex watches, diamonds, gold and look for counterfeit products.

Sometimes customers come for the first time because they need to borrow money, and they can be a little curt with us. We’ve been doing this for a long time, so we understand that. We try to put ourselves in the customer’s shoes and guide them through the process.

If we think someone is going to cause trouble, we try not to do business with them. We do not accept foul language or racism. If a customer doesn’t want to hear what a female employee has to say and prefers to listen to a male employee when dealing with tools, for example, that’s a red flag.

Pawnbrokers must also adapt

Some pawnshops are almost back to pre-COVID normal, but I think we’re going to see more pawnshops closing in the near future. It’s getting harder and harder to compete with places like Amazon and Facebook Marketplace. We sell many of our items ourselves on the Internet.

If a pawn shop is not up to date, it will probably have to close down.

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