Reporters who show no interest in the millions of ordinary working people who patronize the nation’s 13,000 pawnshops are endlessly fascinated by the small number of threadbare millionaires who — when down to their last Patek Philippe — do the same.
Few show much evidence of ever having visited a pawn shop themselves.
Take, for example, a story that got nationwide exposure yesterday on National Public Radio.
Ashley Milne-Tyte — sounds rather posh, doesn’t she? — of the Planet Money team did a segment about a “new” (not really) sort of pawn shop that caters to the well-off. These shops are not, she said, “dark and seedy” like other pawnshops that deal with the “desperate.”
While traveling around the country, I stop in pawnshops of all sorts. Some are really gun shops that do a little loan business, others are really jewelry shops that take in a small amount of household goods. Others are primarily second-hand goods stores that will buy a gold ring or two.
Most are like Kamaaina Loan, full service lender/traders whose customers are primarily working people. They may need to even out their cash flow (especially if they work on a tourist island where many jobs are intermittent or subject to wide swings in income) but are hardly desperate.
Some pawn shops I have visited are definitely seedy. These tend to be on the outskirts of town, in areas of low-paid work, cheek by jowl with mobile home sales lots, dealers in not-too-new used cars, second-hand furniture stores and apartments and houses that have not been repainted since the Reagan administration. The people they deal with seldom acquire high-quality merchandise in the first place, and what they have to offer for a pawn loan will not impress the likes of Ashley Milne-Tyte.
But dark? Never dark.
#maui #maui gold