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Ask the Patch Pro: About the Pawn Shop Biz

Do you have old estate jewelry you want to unload? Need a short term loan but can't go to the bank? Think all pawn shops are like what you see on TV? Our Patch Pro is on tap to answer all your questions and look at photos of your merchandise.

On the History Channel's popular reality program Pawn Stars, customers often bring in what could be priceless merchandise looking for a nice payout.

But pawn shop owner Andy "Avi" Strauss knows your average pawn shop doesn't specialize in Spanish Cubism paintings or priceless, heirloom shotguns from the American Civil War period. Nor does it employ the experts necessary to determine the values of such rarities. Basically, the shop isn't run like a pumped up reality show, and this ain't Antiques Roadshow either.

However, your local pawn shop will likely be able to take those old DVDs, electronics, Great Aunt Rita's estate jewelry, broken gold and maybe a few collectors items off your hands. In addition, if you find yourself in need of cash fast, but the inability to go to the bank, a pawn shop will accept an item deemed valuable as collateral for a cash loan. Strauss said he's even accepted a couch as collateral. Of course, the borrower pays interest on the loan, too.

Strauss operates a small pawn shop, , on Nicollet Avenue in Richfield and is on call to take your questions about the business. You can also upload photos of old jewelry or collectors items for him to give an initial estimate.

Share your comment or question in the comments section below. To upload a photo of an item, click "Upload Photos and Videos" and write a description of the item in the caption box.

James Warden (Editor) May 30, 2012 at 01:31 PM
My wife has a bar of silver that was given to her when she was young. We'd like to sell it eventually. Where can you go to get a fair price for a single silver bar?
Jeff Roberts May 30, 2012 at 01:55 PM
The community I cover—Inver Grove Heights—is about to be the home of the largest Pawn America in the state. I've heard a few residents make underhanded comments about that particular business coming into the city. Are there any myths you can dispel about modern day pawn shops?
Avi Strauss May 30, 2012 at 02:54 PM
Great question. I recommend American Rare Coin and Collectibles in Bloomington, MN for selling--they are off 494 and Xerxes in the Wells Fargo Bldg. As for purchasing some silver bars I may have a few at the store (featured in the above article)
Avi Strauss May 30, 2012 at 02:59 PM
Jeff- Pawn America has done an outstanding job changing the image of the Pawn Store. They have worked diligently to dispel myths of pawn stores. The modern day store is not dark, dingy, and scary, most of them now are in strip malls with major anchor tenants.( Even in some cities Pawn America IS the anchor Tenant) I'd encourage you to stop by my store if you'd like to see how we operate. My store however is more of a small business than a big box operation like Pawn America. Thanks for you comment. Also you can find more information about pawn stores at nationalpawnbrokersassociation.org.
Lisa Baumann May 30, 2012 at 03:40 PM
Hi Avi, We had a story recently where a woman was stealing and pawning items to fuel a drug addiction. She reportedly said no one at the pawn shop ever questioned her and in fact made jokes about how often she came in. Is there anything a store owner is required to do, or that you do if you suspect items are stolen?
Avi Strauss May 30, 2012 at 04:58 PM
The store is required by MN law to report every transaction that comes in. Part of the process -- requires the individual to show a valid drivers license or state issued ID. The amount of stolen merchandise nationally is .05% which is extremely low. Now, it's completely different people are selling more stolen merchandise on Craigslist or on eBay. If something is reported stolen and we have that item here in our store we are out the funds. Lisa, I have been in this business for over 12 years, are there people who try to take advantage of us, sure. I can assure you that 99.9 of my customers are genuine and need my service to help them get between paychecks and/or support their family.
Wendy Erlien May 30, 2012 at 06:20 PM
What are some of the most common items that you see pawned besides jewelry?
Avi Strauss May 30, 2012 at 07:47 PM
Electronics (ie Ipods, LCD TVS, DVD players DVD movies.
Kris Janisch May 30, 2012 at 10:30 PM
What's the oddest item you've ever had come through the doors?
Lisa Baumann May 31, 2012 at 02:10 PM
Thanks for the info. Avi. And I'd love to know the answer to the question above and if there are things people bring in that you generally won't take off their hands?
Jake Rappe May 31, 2012 at 08:49 PM
I've never purchased, nor sold/pawned anything at a pawn shop, but I have shopped them before. When I was in high school, I was told that a pawn shop was a good place to buy an electric guitar. I also shopped at a couple of pawn shops for fire arms. In fact, I often see pawn and gun in tandem on store fronts. Avi, does your store deal in fire arms, also?
Avi Strauss May 31, 2012 at 09:04 PM
Breath- a- lizer Mini Doughnut machine
Avi Strauss May 31, 2012 at 09:05 PM
We don't have our FFL license. Meaning we don't deal in firearms. We do have a few guns.
tis I May 06, 2013 at 07:52 PM
Would you be interested in antiques, vintage collectables or wwii items? What kind of payout do you have on items like that? i know the value and right way to do it but dont have all that time to wait for the money

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