There has been an explosion in recent years of pawn brokers and pawn lenders becoming far more high-class. As a result, there has been a surge of sympathetic media portrayals of pawn lenders and high-end brokerages, both nationally and internationally.
High-class pawn brokers more commonplace
In decades past, getting a loan from a pawn broker was seen as an act of last resort. Many considered other alternative financial services like payday loans or car title loans first. But that perception now tends to clash with the image of more high-profile pawn operations. For instance, the online pawn brokerage Pawngo has been generating buzz in the financial press, as the company was featured several weeks ago on the Forbes website. Pawngo is currently backed by Lightbank, the same company that provided funding to another online company that recently exploded in popularity, Groupon. To get a loan from Pawngo, one simply ships the property via FedEx, and gets the money once the item is received.
Pawn broking on the rise in recession
Since credit is somewhat scarce — even for the opulent — many people still need short term loans. Many American cities are starting to see a surge in the number of pawn shops, and especially those that cater to discerning clients. A recent article in the St. Petersburg Times describes pawn shops that are making larger loans for wealthier clients. One store, the Gold and Diamond Center in St. Petersburg, Fla., is the same store where former governor Charlie Crist bought a 5-carat sapphire ring with which he proposed to his wife.
Another store, Cappello & Co., typically provides pawn loans to businesses, but also makes loan against jewelry, boats and other large assets. The store recently held property including a Bentley automobile, a Picasso painting, at least one airplane, several boats and a Ferrari.
To attract the growing pawn business, the city of Mankato, Minn., recently voted to allow more pawn brokers to open up shop in the city, according to the Mankato Free Press.
Trend continues, thanks to TV
Over the past few years, there have been reality television shows such as “Pawn Stars” and “Hardcore Pawn” that have increased the notoriety of pawn lenders. “Pawn Stars” in particular featured some incredibly valuable items going through the store, and “Hardcore Pawn” recently featured a Las Vegas couple selling the show’s stars a Ford Mustang that once belonged to Lee Iaccoca, according to the MustangEvolution blog. The increase in status for pawn lenders isn’t even unique to the U.S. According to the Financial Times, a new store of the incredibly long-lived and respected pawn broker Suttons & Robertsons just opened on London’s Fleet Street, next door to Goldman Sachs.