Image by Travis via Flickr
You might be sitting on a fortune and not even know it.
If you’ve been keeping up with the news, you’ll probably be aware that the economic crashes of late have mostly been caused by dishonest banks that bundled together piles of junk and tried to sell them off as great investments. Ironically, the reality of the pawn industry is that huge numbers of people believe they possess – in an attic, closet or basement perhaps – large piles of junk, but in reality each of these could be worth a small fortune themselves. Consider the market value these days for a first-edition Game Boy still in working order, or original VHS copies of the first Star Wars movies. Piles of junk to you, perhaps, but a genuine treasure to a collector, which they’ll happily pay good money for.
And it’s not only the ‘new antiques’ that are increasing in value so dramatically; economic realities stemming from the aforementioned economic crashes mean that other things you might have been holding onto, like that old jewellery you’ll probably never wear again, could produce a windfall for you as prices of gold scrap continue to skyrocket.
Your contacts to make this all happen are the pawn shops. They connect the supplier and the buyer, just as a store or warehouse might do in another industry. Historically, this has all been very low-tech; someone visits a shop to get rid of unwanted things, and another person visits the shop in hopes of stumbling across whatever they’d been hoping somebody would pawn. But the internet opens up new possibilities for the industry, allowing shops to catalogue their inventory and alert potential buyers when the items they requested are in stock. Just as importantly, they can ask buyers how much they’d pay for the items they are requesting, and alert keen sellers when there is a need (and a good price on offer) for any particular item.
Services like this already exist, such as eBay, but these require a lot of attention and strategic bidding on the part of the buyers, as well as a lot more involvement and work from sellers as well. Pawn shops cut out the hard work on both ends, and can also convert other things, like gold or precious stones, into cash much more quickly and easily. You might get a better price by doing things yourself if you know your way around these kinds of websites well enough to use them like a pro, but the time and effort necessary to become such an expert and do the last-second bidding with an experienced touch reduces the overall benefit considerably. Saving a bit of money is less of a win when it costs you your whole afternoon to do it.
The internet and its related advancements have affected the pawn industry in another intriguing way as well. The faster technology – and therefore day-to-day life – changes, the more people tend to recall with fondness the old things that they grew up with. Even a first-generation iPod can be a great sale nowadays, though it has hardly had time to collect much dust since it was introduced. And the more new currencies we see, like Bitcoin, Dogecoin and whatever the next ‘coin’ will be, the more the pendulum will tend to swing back to gold after the initial hype wears off.
A pawn shop can be thought of as a middleman, certainly; but it can also be thought of as a store, with your previous purchases as the factory and the warehouse. Without it, you may have great stuff – and you may not even know it! But, it won’t have any value to anyone if it sits forever in an attic. So dust off those old watches, bracelets, tools and electronics, and see if they shine. As they always say, one man’s junk is another man’s treasure.