Pawn shops thrive in tough economy - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Pawn shops thrive in tough economy

By Jamie Grey

Dubuque (KWWL) -- With the economy struggling, many business owners are seeing less profit. But for some, business is actually better, and it's because of the slowing economy. It's places making quick cash loans, like pawn shops and payday advance lenders. One pawn shop owner says business has actually tripled in the last six months.

For some people who need a little cash to get by, turning in a watch, guitar, or DVD player permanently or just temporarily, is a solution. At Dubuque Pawn, the changing economy is bringing a changing customer base; some people are pawning who've never thought about it before.

"You're getting everything from unemployed people to professional people that commute and stuff, and just that extra gas makes a difference when getting paycheck to paycheck," Dubuque Pawn owner Mike Van Vermillen said.

The most popular reasons to pawn? Needing immediate money for gas, rent, or necessities for young children.

"We get a lot of people that'll come in on a Wednesday or Thursday, and they'll be back on Friday afternoon after they get paid. It's just a couple of days. They just need it to get through," Van Vermillen said.

Van Vermillen says there's also an increase in customers who just come in to buy.

"If i can get tools for work for $50 compared to $300, you know, it's well-worth it for me," customer Cory Parker said.

Video games,DVDs, car stereos and speakers are all popular. Now, current hot items are gold and silver jewelry and coins.

"People that have been sitting on it for a long time, not doing anything with the money. Now that everything's going up, the gas and stuff, they're wanting to utilize that instead of looking at it in a shoe box or something, they want to turn it into cash," Van Vermillen said.

Pawn shops usually work under an assumption that people will not return for their pawned items. But shop owners say they're seeing more people coming back to get their stuff, once they've got the money to pay back the loan plus interest.

Owners say if you're worried about buying from a pawn shop because of stolen goods: rest assured. Owners send the serial number from everything they buy straight to the police station to be checked out.

Reporter:  Jamie Grey

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