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Selling to a Pawn Shop 101: A Guide for Beginners

300,000 items. No, that’s not the average number of items in a pawn shop. That’s the average number of items in an American home.

Three hundred thousand. It seems impossible, doesn’t it? But when you start to count every fork, knife, random dead battery – it all adds up.

No wonder people hate moving so much! That’s a lot of packing. But how do you get rid of some of those items without sending them to a landfill?

You could donate them to charity, or you could get some money out of them. How? By selling to a pawn shop. It’s okay if you don’t know how yet, everything you need to know is in the guide below.

Selling to a Pawn Shop: What Do They Buy?

Your local pawn shop doesn’t want five of your non-matching forks. That’s something you’d be better off donating.

They want something that has a high sell-back factor, aka, something that will make them money. If you’ve ever watched the show Pawn Stars, you know what we’re talking about.

People come in with some really weird stuff on that show, and the weirder it is, the harder it is to resell. While a hat that potentially belonged to Jack the Ripper is cool, it’s not something the average customer is going to buy.

Here’s a quick list of things pawn shops really want:

  • Working, semi-recent electronics
  • Jewelry
  • Guns
  • Nice Power Tools
  • High-value kids toys
  • Collectibles
  • Musical instruments and supplies
  • Brand name accessories

If you have any of these items, then get ready to make some cash.

How to Sell at a Pawn Shop, Step 1: Clean the Items

If you have silver jewelry that you’re trying to sell, polish it. If it’s an old phone, make sure you wipe all the data off.

If it’s been sitting around your house, chances are it needs a little sprucing up. Baby wipes are gentle enough for just about every surface, even on leather (just make sure they’re damp, not wet).

Get rid of as many signs of use as you can, without creating any new cosmetic issues.

If you have the original box or proof of purchase, track that down too. Those are things that can get you up to 5-10% more from your sale.

Step 2: Decide How Much You Need

When you’re assessing something to sell, you need to be honest about what it’s worth. Look at the condition, what would you rank it on the following scale?

  • Brand new with tags
  • Brand new without tags
  • Lightly Used
  • Used but good condition
  • Used

The lower you get on the scale, the less money you’ll get for the item – and that’s fair. If you were at a thrift store, you’d expect to pay less for something in worse condition than a perfect item.

Cleaning your item helps, but it can only do so much. If you have no idea what your item is worth, Google it. Put the name of the item and then your assessed condition and see what things are going for on sites like eBay.

That’ll give you a starting point when it comes to in-store negotiations.

Step 3: Pawn or Sell?

When you go to the pawn shop, you have a choice to pawn or sell an item. When you pawn, you essentially loan the item to the shop in exchange for cash.

If you come back within the agreed upon time with the loan paid in full, then you get your item back.

If you don’t, then the pawn shop now owns your item and can do whatever they want with it.

Selling, on the other hand, is a one-time transaction. You bring the shop an item, you tell them how much you want for it, then you negotiate.

When you agree upon a price, you walk out with cash and you’re no longer the legal owner of that item.

Step 4: The Negotiation

Once you’ve decided to sell, you’ll be faced with a negotiation battle – to word it dramatically.

You’ll tell the pawn shop owner what you want for it, and they’ll likely come back with a lower price. You offer to sell it for less than you offered the first time, but not yet meeting the pawn shops number.

If the pawn shop says, bottom line or “not a penny more”, then you have a choice.

You can cave and get the cash that they’re offering, or you can walk and try at a different shop. If you do walk and decide to go elsewhere, ask for the shop’s bottom line offer in writing (that’s one of our best tips).

hat way, if someone offers you even less at another shop, you can show them what Joey at ABC is willing to pay.

If you decide to walk from all those other sales, you can usually sell for the original offer you got written down.

In the world of retail America, pawn shops are pretty much the only place where haggling still exists.

Getting the Good Stuff (AKA Cash)

To get the max offer, you’ll need a few things. A high-quality item in good condition, a knack for haggling, and the willingness to walk away if the offer’s not right.

Now – sometimes you’re truly desperate and you can’t walk, but try not to show that when you’re selling to a pawn shop. When good salespeople sense fear, they’ll take advantage of you.

They’re not being mean, that’s just part of the job.

Interested on how to become a better salesperson so you can get more money at the shop? Read this article