How long have you worked here?
Since the pawnshop opened?
“Yeah, I’ve been here the whole time it’s been open. I worked at the other pawnshop in Longview before this. There are two stores total.”
Is there a seasonality for pawning, a certain time it peaks?
“Yes, during the winter months there’s a lot of pawning, when seasonal jobs aren’t necessarily available. In the summer there are more sales.”
How are pawn interest rates determined?
“It all depends on the loan. A $20 loan will have a much higher interest rate. The more expensive (the loan) the less it costs.”
How much of your business is pawning versus sales?
“It’s about 50/50. It’s even.”
In the last two years, how has the business changed?
“We’ve gotten busier for sure. The more people learn that we’re here, the busier we get. The business side hasn’t changed much, no major rule changes.”
Busier how so?
“There are more customers pawning and more customers know we’re here, so they’re stopping by to check in and see if what we have new on the shelves. There’s more of an influx of customers in general.”
What’s the average pawn?
“Probably $20 and up.”
What’s the smallest pawn you’ve done?
“We’ve done pawns for $3 before.”
What’s been pawned for $3?
“It can be anything, like a wrench.”
What’s the most expensive pawn you’ve done?
“Here it’s probably been rings. We’ve had a couple $1,000 to $1,500 rings come through. For the business overall, it was gold doubloons.”
Do you appraise the items yourself?
“We do as much of the appraisals here as we can. We’re not gemologists, so we don’t do the gemstones. We do have a diamond tester for diamonds. For gold we have a nitric acid testing kit and magnets.”
Are there any experts you consult?
“There is one guy we call every once in a while, just because he knows a lot about high-end collector guns.”
Are you seeing more guns?
“Most people are actually holding on to their guns right now. A lot of rules are changing and they’re not necessarily wanting to pawn it and then not maybe get it back or something like that. We’re just not seeing a lot of guns coming in.”
Are there things people seem to be pawning or selling at a higher frequency?
“We’ve been doing a lot of electronics and instruments recently. Since Thiel’s closed down, we’ve seen an influx of people looking for guitars and instrument-related stuff. We have a ton of TVs.”
Are there things you’re always looking for or interested in buying?
“We’re always interested in gold, guns, newer electronics and DVDs.”
What’s the biggest challenge?
“The biggest challenge is when people come in who’ve spent a lot of money on something. There’s a difference between retail and resale. A lot of times it’s a harsh reality when someone comes in and has an item they paid big bucks for and I look online and it’s selling for a quarter of the cost. It’s really hard to break it to them. That’s the hardest part, just breaking people’s hearts with how much they spent on it and how much it’s worth.”
What are some of the most memorable things you’ve seen?
“Our other shop (in Longview) had a human skull.”
What’s the strangest thing someone has brought in to sell or pawn in Astoria?
“Fillings for teeth. We’re always going to take them, but it’s always weird when someone drops a set of teeth on your counter. We’re interested in the strange things.”
Have you ever bought something that turned out to be fake or counterfeit?
“Yeah, we get tricked on gold sometimes. If it has super thick plating (instead of solid gold) and we just miss it. We’ve learned a lot over the past seven years. We bought what we thought were a bunch of Spyderco knives once, but it turned out they were fake. It happens. There’s a surprising market for fake stuff online.”
How often do you come across something fake?
“A lot with jewelry. A lot of people will bring in something they thought was real. They may have bought it from a retail store, but in the fine print it will say it’s plated. If we doubt something is real, we require a COA or certificate of authenticity. For instance, a jersey that’s signed would need a COA. A real expensive coin is fake 90 percent of the time so they require a COA.”
What’s the most valuable item in the store right now?
“A $3,000 ring.”
What’s the biggest misconception you encounter?
“The biggest misconception is that when you pawn something that it goes out for sale. A lot of people think when they pawn something that we sell it for them or something. When we pawn something it goes in the back and nobody ever sees it until they come back and pick it up.”