The akamai shopper’s 15-day rule

To protect your property and make it harder for thieves to fence stolen goods, Hawaii has a second-hand dealers’ law. It requires buyers of used merchandise to (among other things) hold the purchased goods for 15 days before reselling them.

We move new (that is, used but new to our store) tools into the eBay-tool store at 50 North Market Street every other Wednesday. Today was the day.

I noticed that not all this “used:” merchandise was really used. There were some Stanley items still in their unbroken factory packaging. But we are pricing them as used, not new.

Smart toolhounds will make a habit of checking out our store at least twice a month.

Pawn 101: A pawn lender with restrictions

Recently (Feb. 27), we promised to tell you about the history of an unusual pawn shop that didn’t take gold – the favorite transaction of most pawnbrokers – or guitars, firearms, clothing or any of the many, many items that most pawnbrokers deal in.


It was the Provident Loan Society of New York, a non-profit established following the Panic of 1893. In those days, even large businesses could hardly obtain banking services for years, and the situation of the working family in need of a loan was desperate.


The Provident restricted its lending to diamonds, which were the form of portable wealth commonly used by ordinary people. The presentation of a diamond engagement ring was not just an expression of love. It indicated that the groom (the main wage earner in most working families in those days) was solid enough to provide a cushion, beyond the weekly pay envelope, for the security of his family.


In a time when health insurance and unemployment insurance were unknown, when a line of credit (similar to a credit card) was impossible for working families to obtain, possession of a diamond meant the difference between  having a roof over their heads and being tossed onto the street in the event of layoffs or injuries or sickness.


But abusive lending practices were common.


The Provident was set up to serve the better-off working poor and middle class. It restricted itself to diamonds, as related in “God Bless Pawnbrokers” by Peter Schwed, an early president of the Provident who later went on to become chief executive of one of the largest publishing houses.


The Provident still exists, but it is not as flourishing as it once was, though today it accepts gold jewelry and gold watches as well as diamonds. While it offered a better deal for those families that had a diamond, it could not compete effectively with commercial pawnbrokers, who were ready to take bigger risks and offer more accommodations for people wanting short-term cash – and who did not have a diamond, even though they might own a TV, tools, or a violin.

First Friday review

Despite looking a little overcast, the weather was perfect for First Friday. By the time First Friday Cam (also known as went live around 6:45, North Market Street was filled with people, strolling in ideal 72 degree temperatures and soothed by a mild breeze.

Compared with First Friday in February, it seemed there were more children out on March 2, and Jason Schwartz and Harry Eagar kidded around with about a dozen of them. They also interviewed Megan and Jackie from Wailuku Coffe Co.

And the tables were turned when Jason and Harry were interviewed by Marcel and KJ, roving deejays from station KMAR-FM in Las Vegas, who were on Market Street to see what was shakin’.

Visitors from Alberta, Cincinnati, California, Kula, Haiku and even Wailuku stopped by the First Friday cam to wave to their friends.



It looks like gold? Is it gold?

The first, simple test is to touch the jewelry or coin with a magnet. At Kamaaina Loan, we use a small but powerful neodymium magnet (the kind used in speakers).

If it’s just plate (sometimes sold as gold-filled or under other tricky names), the magnet will be attracted to the iron underneath.

Gold plate is real gold but so thin its value is insignificant.

If the item is not plate, then a series of tests can determine its karat-value, or proportion of gold to base metal.

24K is pure gold. Jewelry is made from lesser karat-gold, because pure gold is too soft to be durable.

Thus, 12K is half gold, and 18K is three-quarters gold.

If gold is selling for $1,800 an ounce (it’s close to that today), then a 14K ring weighing 10 grams contains a little over a sixth of an ounce of gold.  There are 31.1 grams in a troy ounce, so the 10-gram ring weighs just under a third of an ounce, and 14K is a little over half gold, so the ring contains a bit more than one-sixth of an ounce of gold.

At $1,800 an ounce, the gold itself has a value of about $300. After it has been refined. The market value of the gold while it’s still in the ring is going to be something less, because of transaction costs, shipping costs and refining costs.

But that’s how a pawnbroker determines how much gold is in your piece of jewelry.

Pawn 101: Why cash for gold?

Because gold is the most universal store of value across all times, nations and cultures.

But that does not mean that some societies don’t prefer other forms of portable wealth: silver, diamonds, cattle (which are self-portable).

Until fairly recent times, most people did not use banks. In our great-grandparents’ day, you didn’t just become a depositor at a bank. You had to have an introduction. Most working people were not welcome in banks.

Times change, but the habit of relying on gold, diamonds or silver as an emergency “savings account” remains strong.

In every community, the pawnbroker is the place where that emergency stash can be converted into legal tender to deal with bills.

(In the next episode of Pawn 101: Introduction to Pawnbroking, we will tell the story of the Provident, a famous pawnshop that did not accept gold, and why.)

Your questions about pawning answered

Tens of thousands of people have pawned property at Kamaaina Loan/Cash for Gold. Literally, tens of thousands.

But tens of thousands more have never made a pawn loan at all. And naturally, if you’re one of them, you have questions before you try it.

Like: OK, I’m pawning my (wedding ring, power tools, surfboard, guitar etc.), but I want it back. How do I know I’ll get it?

First, by dealing with the oldest established pawn shop on Maui – 36 years.

Second, all pawned items are stored in our insured and secure warehouse.

Third, if you forget the redemption date, you’ll get a reminder to come in, pay back your loan and retrieve your valuables.

Watch this space for more answers to questions newbies have about in the pawn world.

I can see for miles and miles

At our store at 96 N. Market, find a unique (in Hawaii) set of Russian border guard binoculars. You’d have to go to to Siberia to find another pair.

These massive optics are perfect for watching whales from your lanai, detecting smugglers, or maybe watching a bird — if it holds real still.

And that’s not the only item you’ll discover in our store that you cannot find anywhere else in the islands.


We’re not like the mall

Is your sweetie special? Are you going to the mall to buy her a Valentine’s Day gift just like the one you saw on TV that 2 million other girls are going to get?

Come to Cash for Gold and find her something as special as she is. We have jewelry unlike what you’ll see at the mall.

52 North Market Street, Wailuku

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