Pawn Shops Attract Upscale Clientele

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 30, 2008 11:53 AM CST
Pawn shops, once thought to be the realm of the lower class, are being utilized by more and more members of the middle- and upper-class, the Wall Street Journal reports.   (©wilhelmja)
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(Newser) – Pawn shops are turning from the shady realm of the lower class to a place for rich people to get loans, the Wall Street Journal reports. The typical household income of a pawn shop customer is $29,000, but new middle- and upper-class clients are surging. One such client pawned a $9,000 fur coat to buy private-school uniforms. Some pawn shop owners are reporting 30%-40% increases in transactions.

As potential clients drive up in Cadillacs and BMWs, pawn shop owners are seeing an influx of items like Cartier watches and 2-carat diamonds. “Pretty much everything I own is in here,” said one out-of-work contractor who pawned his construction equipment. Business owners have increasingly used pawn shops to cover their expenses as it becomes more difficult or costly to get bank loans, and first-time clients are up 10%.