The Day – Pawn shops offer popular new and used items during pandemic


TV shows like “Pawn Stars” have helped change the outlook on pawn shops, from shabby places with shady characters to modern stores with well-displayed products and friendly staff.

Pawn shops buy and sell everything from new and used silver and gold coins / bars and jewelry to electronics (computers, iPads, laptops, gaming systems and televisions), sneakers, handbags, cameras, musical instruments, used tools and exercise equipment – all in good or lightly used condition.

People over 18 can also sell or pawn items and receive a loan “based on the value of the collateral,” according to

“I’ve met people with no pennies in their pockets and I’ve met millionaires,” said Harry Chiappone, co-owner of C&S Pawn at 205 Main St. in Norwich. “There is no demographic data.”

He said some celebrities come from the casinos after being there for a week and playing all their money. “They don’t want to go home. They could come to us and borrow money for their watches, or their jewelry, or whatever.

Chiappone also said millionaires know how to make money. For example, they could buy a Rolex watch for $ 10,000 at half price from his store.

Business has definitely slowed down and changed since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, he said. “A lot of people are still a little scared of being outside, so you don’t get the foot traffic and the flow of people like you normally do.”

Collector’s sneakers are the new product that is selling very well with “young children,” Chiappone said. “When I was a kid we used trading cards and the like. Now kids are collecting sneakers. So you get new Air Jordans and different kinds of sneakers which are very popular, very trendy and very expensive. “

Chiappone explained that brands like Adidas and Nike only make a limited amount of certain sneakers.

“Sometimes you can go into an auction” and pay $ 180 for sneakers worth $ 500. “They will come and sell them or we will buy a pair.”

“We’ve seen a lot of tool sales during COVID online and in-store as people do more house projects,” said Brett Mastroianni, owner of East Coast Jewelry & Loan at Holly Green Plaza at 391 Norwich-Westerly Road (Route 2.) to North Stonington. “Instead of going out and buying new ones, they were looking for used items.”

He said their landscaping equipment went “pretty quickly” last summer, “because people who used to pay for a service to do it were now starting to do it themselves,” because ‘they had been laid off.

Sales of laptops and iPads have increased since the start of the pandemic, and customers have also started new hobbies and purchased more musical instruments, snowboards and fishing rods, Mastroianni said.

He described his shop as a “mini-department store with a lot of second-hand goods” – from collectible toys and handbags to Pandora charm bracelets and guns.

New and used jewelry makes up the largest section of her store. “I have a laser welder. We have a high tech way to repair jewelry. You therefore do not need to remove certain diamonds from their settings or other stones and make a spotting. “

He said some people wouldn’t buy jewelry from a pawnshop, but that’s because “they don’t understand how the wholesale diamond market works. A lot of the diamonds you buy in one of the department stores have been recycled. A good percentage of the diamonds in the market were owned by someone else or belonged to another ring at some point, because diamonds do not necessarily have to come directly from the mine ”.

Mastroianni said. “Even jewelers who buy scrap metal or used items, most remove the diamonds, resell them or resell them to a wholesaler who sells them to another jewelry store.”

Jewelry is also a good aspect of Yankee Peddler & Pawn at 141 State St. in New London and 535 Long Hill Road in Groton, co-owner Chad LaPlante said.

Since the start of the pandemic last March, he said “business has gone down slightly.” However, once people started receiving government stimulus funds and unemployment benefits, LaPlante said they were less frugal and were buying “this pair of Nikes for $ 250” at their stores that would sell for 500. $ on eBay.

Other popular items include exercise equipment, bikes, tools, and lightly used electronics, including laptops, computers, and gaming systems.

People from all walks of life and all income brackets visit their stores, he said. “That’s what makes him interesting. I have seen children grow up. They became young adults. It can be a family experience, as there is something for everyone in the store. “

The three owners of pawn shops said in telephone interviews that pledging has been declining since the start of the pandemic. Currently, jewelry is not the best seller because it is not a necessity.

Homeowners are also disinfecting their stores and requiring people to wear masks to enter. Plus, they continue to educate people about the long history of pawn shops.

“As mankind’s oldest financial institution, pawn shops date back at least 3,000 years to ancient China as well as to the early Greek and Roman civilizations. In the 14th century, King Edward III of England is said to have frequented pawn shops in Europe. Queen Isabella is said to have pledged her royal jewelry to finance Christopher Columbus’ journey to the New World, ”according to

Today, owners of pawn shops must be bonded and have a precious metal dealer license, junk dealer license and pawn shop license, Mastroianni said. Additionally, when an individual pledges or sells an item, he says the dealer must take his license and photo and “report to the state what comes in every week,” which then goes into a database.

Mastroianni said pawn shops are heavily regulated.

“You are trying to discourage (people) from receiving something that is not theirs. They must therefore sign documents, saying that the merchandise was theirs for sale. This could have been one of the reasons behind the state law. “

He thinks the law works well as a deterrent. “If you knew you stole something or it wasn’t yours, are you going to give your license to someone and let them take a picture of you and sign a piece of paper of what you just sold?” “

The owners of pawn shops believe their businesses will survive these tough times.

“Once everything has calmed down America is opening up again and people getting back to work, I think we’ll keep going,” said LaPlante of Yankee Peddler & Pawn.

Since they’ve never experienced anything like a pandemic before and didn’t know what to expect, C&S Pawn’s Chiappone said, “Even though times are different and a little slower, things are improving and I don’t see a future. where we’re not here, then we should be fine.

“It’s about changing over time,” said Mastroianni of East Coast Jewelry & Loan. “We did it again a few months ago and then we had the (COVID) peak (and) the traffic calmed down. And now we’re getting by with the amount of vaccine coming out and people are definitely getting more active.

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