Pawn shops are busy, but it’s not what you think

Updated: Apr. 30, 2020 at 10:09 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Pawn shops remain open as financial institutions during the coronavirus pandemic, but owners have been surprised by the way business has changed. At this point, few people are pawning items for loans.

Both presidents of National Pawn and LDPM Inc., which is the parent company of Picasso Pawn, have over thirty years experience in the industry, but they’ve never seen anything quite like this pandemic.

“Shockingly, there’s less people looking to sell and get loans because they have the stimulus money and they’re stuck at home not spending money. My prediction is in August maybe July and August we will see a return and then a big demand on it as people either get back to work or their unemployment runs out and so we think will see a big uptick in loans at that point,” said Bob Moulton, president of National Pawn.

Moulton says loans are down 65% this month and the amount of items they’re purchasing off folks is down 75%.

Loans have also dropped significantly at Picasso Pawn.

President Bill Dawson said, “we are trying to be prepared for all scenarios. I know there’s a lot of unemployment money that’s being put out there and a lot of the money that’s been injected into the economy has certainly been a benefit to our customers, but when that runs out... we don’t know.”

Both National Pawn and Picasso Pawn operate around a dozen locations across the state. They’re currently open in limited capacities as financial institutions and are able to return previously pawned items to their owners if they pay back their loan.

Dawson says they’re committed to keeping shops open, but there’s concern about the future.

“Of course, the bottom line, we’re always looking at,” he said. "We also want to keep our employees employed. We made that commitment. We’ve done the things we feel like we need to do to stay viable through this and to feel good about it. We want our customers to know that we’re going to be there for them, not only for their needs in the future but a lot of people have their property with us on pawn and we want them to be able to have access to it should they want it.”

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