Seedy maybe, but not dark

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.

Kamaaina Loan -- neither dark nor seedy

Kamaaina Loan — neither dark nor seedy

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