And now, a good word for fakes

But not from us. We hate fakes.

No, it’s Jack Ma, head of notorious fraud site Alibaba (the Amazon of China, some call it, which seems unfair to Amazon). In a story reported at CNN Moneym, Ma said

“The problem is that the fake products today — they make better quality, better prices than the real product,” Ma told investors at a company event Tuesday. “The exact factories, the exact raw materials, so they don’t use the name.”

Excuse us while we retch.

First of all, we examine designer goods in the pawnshop all the time, and while some fakes are better than others, they aren’t “better quality” or even as good.

We note that just to get it out of the way.

The problem with Ma’s continuing criminal enterprise is not (or not only) the quality of the fakes he sells. It’s theft of intellectual property. And it’s destruction of the value of real goods by pretty-good fakes.

For example, the market for collectible Kingdom of Hawaii coins has been nearly ruined by fakes. Sold by Jack Ma.

We bet Jack Ma would not be so happy if someone set up a fake Alibaba site that directed shoppers to a warehouse in, say, Belarus and took away the dollars now going to Jack Ma.

There is also the matter of additional costs imposed on honest merchants like Kamaaina Loan, who have to take steps to intercept and reject the fake garbage that Jack Ma pumps into the stream of commerce.

It would be a good thing if Alibaba was treated like a chop shop or other similar criminal operation and shut down. We aren’t saying we expect it, but it would be a good thing.

If you think we are kidding, just go to Alibaba and search for “fake coins.”


#maui #mauiretail #visitingparadise

Reality spreading

Heck, no, we don’t mean the US political campaign is beginning to be full of truth and good nature. But after a long dry spell, Kamaaina Loan blog can again report on pawn-based reality teevee programming.

The reality pawn audience seemed to have peaked  and then Chumlee of “Pawn Stars” got himself arrested on drug and weapons charges, which sort of cooled things down.

But British papers report that Australia’s  top shock jock (Kyle Sandilands and no, we never heard of him either) has signed for a pawn show on Australia’s channel 9 to be called “Meet the Hockers.” What’s a stuffed koala bear worth, anyway?

Meanwhile, back on America’s top pawn show, the gossip sites are reporting that Chumlee will plead guilty to one each of drug and weapons charges, but nothing on the original sex assault or harassment complaint, of which few details were ever revealed.

He will, they say, get probation and after completing it successfully will have his charges knocked down from felonies to misdemeanors. His social media accounts claim he will return to the show sometime.

#ProudofPawn #maui #mauiretail

Pawning for a revolution

From Russia Today, a somewhat hard to follow but very detailed look back a hundred years to the days when you could pawn your way into an earth-changing revolution.

The occasion is the hundredth anniversary of the failed Irish rebellion against England. Russian revolutionaries at the time regretted that the Irish were “premature” but also took the outbreak as a portent of a soon-to-begin world-circling wave of revolutions.


Trotsky and Lenin proved to be poor prophets in this case — there wasn’t a world wave of successful revolutions but the some of the Irish did gain their independence. However, this ais ablog about pawns, so we are more interested in the pawn transaction.

The Bolsheviks had taken over the Romanov jewelry and were broke but they had a hard time converting it into dollars. Plenty of people would have taken the jewels but the paper money of many countries was suspect around 1918.

The Irish rebels — not yet free — had raised $5 million in cash in the United States so they were in a position to lend on security — a pawn transaction, crown jewels for $20,000 cash.

It was hardly enough to sustain a revolution but it helped. The story gets somewhat bizarre. The pawn was informal and since the rebels didn’t have a treasury to place the jewels in, one of them gave them to his mum, who kept them under her dresss — described as the safest place in Ireland at that time.

Eventually, in 1948, the jewels were sent back to the USSR and the Irish government got its principal back, without interest. There had been inflation in the interim, but the government of Eire got something that was probably worth forgoing interest — at a time when no other country would do so, the USSR treated Eire as a sovereign state.

Nowadays it couldn’t happen. At least not the same way. There are laws against raising money for “terrorists” and crown jewels are rarer than they used to be. Today’s revolutions are financed with diamonds, but just raw ones, or oil; it is unlikely that you can pawn your way to power any more.


Purveying art


Besides the tools, surfboards, guitars and fishing poles that we usually comment on, Kamaaina Loan is — quietly — the biggest dealer in fine art in Wailuku. Just because we don’t have “gallery” in our name doesn’t mean we are not a gallery.

Over the years, we have handled original Rembrandt etchings, Salvador Dali etc. But most of our paintings, prints, giclees, sculptures and drawings are by local and Hawaii painters and sculptors like the Diana Hansen Young painting of a Hawaiian beauty pictured here.

It may seem a bit incongruous to have fine art next to vintage comic books but that’s part of the fun of being in the pawn business.

#mauiretail #mauipawn #mauiart #mauipainters

You can find anything in a pawn shop

We say that all the time, and we mean it. For example, news reports say that a San Francisco pawn shop, A to Z, is selling (on eBay) what appears to be an unreleased — even unannounced — new version of the latest Google Glass gadget.


No, sorry to say, Kamaaina Loan doesn’t have one. Yet.

UPDATE. March 23

To the surprise of no one, Google has retrieved its wayward Google Glass gadget.


Now the only question is, did somebody who had it legitimately sell (or pawn) it, or was it stolen and then sold (or pawned)? .The first alternative sounds improbable, but stranger things have happened.

Our guess: It was stolen from a backpack or a car or something by a crook who did not realize what it was. If someone knew what it was and wanted to make some illegal cash, it would have been possible to get a lot more than $20,000 (the highest eBay bid) from a Google competitor.

Of course, if the crook approached the competitor and the competitor was honest, then that would have turned out badly.

It isn’t true that crime doesn’t pay but it is true that it usually doesn’t pay very well.



Imaginary pawn shop

This is a new one on us — an imaginary pawn shop where you can look through the windows but not go in and touch the merchandise. Comments are enthusiastic but we think browsing through a real pawn shop is more fun.

Look but don't touch

Look but don’t touch

OK, it’s a Disney thing. Walt was always yammering on about imagination.

We prefer the reality of Kamaaina Loan And Cash For Gold.

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 96 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.

Why we love pawnbrokers

pawnFrom the news:

In Chula Vista, California, thieves tried twice to sell a stolen flute at The Pawnshop Inc. Both times, pawnbrokers spotted the item as likely stolen and turned away the thieves.

(Side note: This is how the law works in Hawaii also. If no police report is available, a pawnbroker is able only to turn away an item even if he is pretty sure it is stolen. He cannot by law accept a stolen item, but if there is no official report, he cannot call the police. What if his suspicions turn out to be misplaced and the customer uis, in fact, honest? It’s a problem; would you — the victim of a theft — rather get your item back or have the thieves toss it in the river, which is likely what happens when they try twice to fence an item and fail.

(So, report the theft to police even if you are skeptical that the cops can do much. Without the report, it’s hard for anybody to do anything.)

Ron Krasner, owner of The Pawnshop, had a flute in stock and gave it to schoolgirl whose flute was stolen. He told Fox 5 News:

“We told them (the girl and her mother) they (the thieves) were here. At that point we went back to our video and got pictures of the thieves and gave them to police.”

Let’s hope that works out.

In Little Rock, pawnbroker Mike Willingham took what steps he could after reading stories about two small children who shot themselves with unlocked guns. He started giving away free gun locks. He told KATV News:

“Why don’t we give away these? We’ve got these, why don’t we give them away? We’re huge advocates of the second amendment and people owning firearms, but theres that safety aspect of it too.”

Let’s hope that works out.

Pawnshops in the service of literature

So far as we know, no desperately poor but brilliant novelists are customers at our Maui pawn shop. But you never can tell.


yenIn Tokyo, an old pawnshop has been opened as a museum because of its links to Ichiyo Higuchi, regarded as the first important woman writer in Meiji Japan. The building itself is also regarded as an important surviving example of a merchant building of the earlier Edo period (which ended 1867)..

Not many wooden buildings in Tokyo survived the great fires of 1923 and 1945.

Wikipedia says of Ichiyo:

She wrote relatively little as a result of living a brief life—she died at 24—but her stories had a large impact on Japanese literature and she is still appreciated by the Japanese public today.

Higuchi was unique among her peers in that her writing was based on Japanese rather than Western models. Her work is highly regarded for her use of language, and for that reason people are reluctant to update or translate it into contemporary Japanese, leaving it difficult for the majority of Japanese people to read.

Well, that’s a bummer. But still. She’s famous and some of that rubbed off on the pawnshop. Her diary records many times when she “rushed to Iseya” pawnshop, because she and her family were very poor.

Although her stories have not been translated into modern Japanese, they have been translated into English. And she’s got her picture on Japanese money, which is more than any famous American women have ever achieved.


Country music goes to the ‘Pawn Shop’

We can hardly wait to hear the lyrics of “Pawn Shop,” a new song by the moderately well-known duo Brothers Osbourne. In this interview, they promise to go back to the era when country music was good. We suppose they refer to the “Drop Kick Me Jesus through the Goalposts of Life” era, or something similar.

Evidently, they think highly of the song, since it will be the title of their January album, their first.

We hope the lyrics will be better than those written by the California ska band Sublime in their song “Pawn Shop.” According to, this was a tribute/ripoff of an earlier reggae number from Jamaica by the Wailing Souls. Sample:


So, why I’m down here at the pawn shop
Down here at the pawn shop, down here at the pawn shop, down here at the pawn shop
What has been sold, not strictly made of stone
Just remember that it’s flesh and bone

Come on, Osbournes, you can do better than that.