Advice to the clueless: How to buy your gal a handbag

pursesWe were so clueless we did not even realize that the handbag is “most beloved of all in a lady’s wardrobe.” We would have guessed shoes. Who ever talks about Imelda Marcos’s handbags?

But professional shopper Nic Screws (apparently a real name) at Bloomberg News corrects our misconceptions and then goes on to tell how to buy bags both practical and impractical.

Is his (or her, we are not sure)  advice worth taking? How would we know?

We know only that you can get gently used designer handbags at both our big store at 98 N. Market St. and our little store at 42 N. Market Street.

Genuine designer handbags. We attended a course on authenticating designer bags over the summer. The instructor did not offer any hints on how to pick the right bag for a lady, only on how to pick a real one. His advice to resellers of handbags: “If you are going to sell genuine, do not also sell fake.”

We took that advice.

Purse matching

Jordan Tabach-Bank is one of the best pawnbrokers at getting media attention, so we are happy to piggyback on his skill by linking to a piece at Pawn Times about pawning Hermes bags.

Kamaaina Loan also takes high-end  bags for loans, and we are not quite as snooty as Tabach-Bank’s Beverly Pawn, which takes only Hermes, Chanel or Celine, and then only models that retail (new) for $5,000 and up.

Kamaaina Loan will lend money even on down-market stuff like Coach. And even if it retails for only a few hundred.

Here’s a tip that’s good for either pawn shop:

Handbags must be in excellent condition and be accompanied by provenance or proof of purchase, usually in the form of receipt from the original retailer.

Well, we don’t absolutely require an original receipt, but it helps seal the deal. So all you fashionistas out there, save your receipts. Because you never know when (or why) you might need to raise some fast cash.

We generally have a fancy  bag or two or three in our store at 42 N. Market. (Just checked: about a dozen items today.)

Do you know you can rent Hermes bags? Not from us, but it can be done.

 

Snakes

We like to say you should check into our Maui pawn shop frequently, because you never know what you will find. Neither, of course, do we, until we have it.

Like this snake deity:

snakes

Who is a pawnbroker?

As this editorial from the Wheeling Intelligencer demonstrates, pawnshops and other dealers in secondhand goods sometimes have to surmount poorly conceived local regulations.

In most places, including Hawaii, there are separate legal codes for pawnbrokers (whose primary business is lending but who buy and sell used merchandise) and pure secondhand dealers, who do not make loans. In a few places, like Florida, there are more than two sets of regulations, as secondhand dealers are further subdivided.

Not in Moundsville, West Virginia, though.

Pierson took his concerns about the ordinance to council last month. He explained his store is not a pawn shop. He merely buys and resells merchandise. He does not provide loans with items brought into the store held as collateral. Most reasonable people would agree Pierson is not operating a pawn shop.

But city officials have said Pierson is required to fill out pawn cards for any valuable items he buys, then hold the merchandise for 10 days before selling it. Police Chief Tom Mitchell explained requiring documentation and a delay in sale can help his department track stolen goods.

This appears to be nothing more than 1) poorly drafted legislation in a hick town; and 2) casual perhaps biased enforcement.

One of the continuing beefs at our Maui pawn shop is that enforcement of secondhand dealer laws is spotty to non-existent. Kamaaina Loan is registered as both a pawn shop and a secondhand dealer.

Following the two sets of rules is not extra burdensome. The same sorts of recordkeeping are required for both kinds of deals, and the difference is the holding period.

For purchases, our business is required to hold merchandise for 15 days before reselling. Pawned items have to be held 60 days, and if not redeemed by the borrower by then, can be sold.

And since Kamaaina Loan, as a pawn shop, makes daily electronic reports to police, the authorities can monitor both kinds of transactions at the same time. Secondhand dealers are regulated in theory but in practice with swap meets, Internet classified lists and other avenues for disposing of used goods, secondhand dealing is hardly supervised at all.

 

Education of a pawnbroker

In principle, pawnbroking is simple. The borrower presents some portable collateral and the lender gives him money. Later, they settle up and reverse the exchange. If the borrower can’t pay, the broker keeps the collateral and tries to sell it to recoup his loss.

And most of the time, it is pretty simple. Probably three-quarters of the deals at Kamaaina Loan And Cash For Gold’s Maui pawn shop are for gold in one form or another, or silver  or other precious metals. Most of the rest are for familiar items like Playstations, iPods, surfboards or fishing poles.

But the residue? Some curious stuff comes over the counter.

A good place to find it in at 50 N. Market St., where we sell fishing gear, golf clubs and tools. Most of the tools are common enough: battery-powered drills are probably the most numerous item these days. (Corded drills are becoming rarities, almost.) But ask Bob to show you around and you’ll likely encounter a tool you not only don’t have but never heard of.

Today’s exhibit is a professional grout scrubber. Yes, it was new to  Bob, too. Turns out that for a big tiling job, with several tilers laying down tiles, it pays to have one worker follow behind them cleaning up the new floor with a power scrubber and massive sponge.

The one we have is made by Rubi, and while it’s used, our price is less than a third of the price for a new Rubi Spomatic 250 Electric Sponge.

That’s why it pays to stick your head in the door every few weeks, even if you’re not shopping for anything in particular. You never know when we’ll have something you never knew you couldn’t live without.

A pawn shop chain moves upscale

Pawn America is one of a couple of large (for the pawn business) chains that started in the past generation. Most pawn shops, however, are still small, local and often mom-and-pop operations.

Kamaaina Loan And Cash For Gold fits the usual pattern.

This story from the St. Paul Pioneer-Press describes how Pawn America is trying to attract shoppers who have never tried a pawn shop’s retail operation by separating it from the lending operation.

Our Maui pawn shop

Brad Rixmann, pawnbroker

did that long ago. In fact, we are perhaps overseparated, with four locations along one long block of North Market Street. One for jewelry, art and curios; one for tools, fishing and golf, the pawn shop and the new store with a wide selection of stuff, from guitars and surfboards to DVDs and Hawaiian artifacts.

The Pioneer-Press story also gives a good explanation of the difficulties pawn shops face from local governing authorities who have decided — but misguided — ideas of what pawn shops are.

“Six or seven years ago, they came to the city of Inver Grove Heights and we said no,” Mayor George Tourville said. “We took a look at the issues around how they operate, and the stigma of stolen goods going right straight to the pawn shop, and we didn’t have the votes to get them into the city of Inver Grove Heights.”

 

It took a while, but eventually the hicks in Inver Grove Heights got a clue:

Police were reassured by safeguards like the Automated Pawn System, which provides law enforcement with daily computerized reports on everything the pawn shop acquires — along with photo identification of each seller. That makes it much more secure than online resale activity, where it’s easier to stay anonymous.

Only then did Inver Grove Heights discuss rewriting its pawn ordinance and changing the zoning for Pawn America.

“It was not a slam dunk,” Tourville said. But with those safeguards and the company’s strong reputation, “it allowed the city council to say, ‘Hey, this is a good thing for our community,’ ” he added. “They built a good space, they’ve got people working. That space was empty and it was filled.”

As this blog has noted many times, a pawn shop is a really stupid place for a fence to offer stolen goods. He has to leave his name, address, driver’s license (or other ID) and a thumbprint, plus be filmed by surveillance cameras.

 

 

 

 

Parking, parking, who’s got the parking?

North Market Street is a great place to do business in many ways, but it was even better before the county started eliminating parking spaces.

Saturday, Kamaaina Loan sent an observer out to see what more parking means for business. The locale: the Upcountry farmers market.

The market used to be held at the Eddie Tam Community Center, which has maybe a dozen parking stalls. And it used to attract about 6 vendors and perhaps two dozen customers over the course of a couple of hours every Saturday morning.

If somebody was setting up the meeting room in the center for a baby luau or birthday party, which was usually the case, there was even less parking.

Over a year ago, for reasons unrelated to parking, the market was moved to the private parking lot next to Longs at Kulamalu Town Center.

It took a while for people to get used to it, but nowadays, the farmers market draws at least 5o vendors and we don’t know how many customers. But last Saturday, the parking lot — we didn’t count, but it has probably 300-400 stalls — was full. Overfull.

People wanting to get at the locally-made jellies, just-picked avocados, fresh greens and sausage biscuits (among many other things) had to park along the access road, and the overflow of cars reached nearly to Maikalani (the offices of the Institute for Astronomy).

We cannot think of a clearer example of what you need for business stimulation.

 

 

 

 

Pawn 101: The most common bad news

According to examiner.com, the most common bad news answer that the Pawn Stars stars give to customers is:

 “The customer’s ‘Sterling Silver’ flatware is actually plated.”

At Kamaaina Loan, the most common answer the customer doesn’t want to hear is probably, “Not for me.”

And it probably applies more to tools or electronic equipment than to flatware.

The deal is, it doesn’t make sense for a pawnbroker to lend money on (or purchase) anything that doesn’t have a ready resale value. “Ready” is a relative term. For collectibles and art, a ready market might take years to develop.

For power tools, which we see a lot of, a ready market means turnover in weeks, or at most a few months.

For electronic equipment, stuff that still works perfectly might not be worth a dime — games and game players from a couple of years ago usually have very small value in the market, if any. Older cellphones are another item that depreciates fast because newer models keep pushing them into the background.

The market is what it is. We don’t do much in the fur coat line, because who on Maui would we sell a fur coat to? On the Mainland, the coat might do better.

Plated silverware is usually (but not always) practically worthless, because the film of silver is so thin. Underneath is scrap iron, worth a penny a pound.

But you have to check. There are a few (very few in the case of plated eating utensils) models that have collectible value.

Which is why the No. 1 all-time response we give to customers who call is, “Bring it in.”

Until we see it and handle it and examine it, we cannot put a value on it.

We can tell you what silver is worth — $30.82 cents an ounce in New York as this is typed, but that’s for Comex-deliverable silver, which is a strange beast of great purity. Sterling is silver mixed with other metals (for durability), so it is worth less.

But a silver dollar — even if it is a Susan B. Anthony silver dollar without any silver in it — it always worth a dollar.

 

Pawnbrokers should be smiling

IDEX Research finds that in 2012 for the first time, sales in America of jewelry and fine watches exceeded $70 billion. It is not clear from this story at National Jeweler whether resales were counted or not.

Our guess is not. But pawnbrokers should be happy anyway.

First, it gives more Americans more stuff to pawn if they feel like it. Second, it provides the wherewithal for pawn shops’ important business in recycled (second-hand, vintage, collectible, historical, retro) jewelry.

Bigger pie, bigger slices.

The percentage increase in the fine jewelry business was not as great as in 2011, but that year the prices of gold and other precious metals zoomed. In 2012, metals’ prices were up, but not as much, so the gain came from more sales.

That is, more Americans felt able to afford fine jewelry and watches last year. As our source for this story at Little Green Footballs notes, that should be taken as a vote of confidence in the overall economy.

In case you are curious, bling beats Bowser. Pets International says dog food sales are around $10 billion.

 

 

 

We have regular stuff for sale

One shade of gray

One shade of gray

Last week we mentioned that we have weird stuff for sale, for example, an irradiated dime. But we also have good regular stuff. More regular stuff than weird stuff, really.

For example, for just $24.99, you can get a nice pre-owned pair of Oakley Flak shades, gray lenses on gloss black frames, in a case.