What Do Pawn Shops Buy? How to Trade In for Cash

To sell items to a pawn shop for top dollar, don't hesitate to negotiate a price with the shop owner.

Lauren Thomann is a business owner, antique dealer, and freelance writer/editor with 16 years of experience and a B.A. in English and Linguistics. She specializes in antiques—mainly Victorian through Mid Century—antique jewelry, old house renovations, and lifestyle and home-related content. Click the link to learn more.
Outside facade of a pawn shop.

Pawn shops are retail businesses that offer loans to customers in exchange for an item of value, known as collateral. These loans are typically short-term, with the customer agreeing to pay back the loan plus interest within a certain timeframe. If the customer cannot repay the loan, the pawn shop has the right to sell the collateral to recoup the loan amount. In addition to offering loans, these shops also buy antiques and other collectibles outright. While pawn shops buy any item of value, certain items are more likely to get top dollar.

Commonly Bought Items

Pawn shops are known for buying a wide variety of items, including jewelry, electronics, musical instruments, and power tools. Below is a list of some of the most common items that pawn shops buy for cash:

  • Jewelry: Pawn shops often buy a wide range of jewelry, including gold, silver, and platinum pieces. This can include everything from rings and necklaces to watches and earrings. Pawn shops may also buy diamonds and other precious gemstones. While they won’t pay more than an antique dealer or a retail customer, they will provide a portion of the wholesale value in cash.
  • Electronics: Pawn shops commonly buy various electronics, including smartphones, laptops, and tablets. They may also buy gaming consoles, digital cameras, and other electronic devices.
  • Musical instruments: Pawn shops often buy musical instruments, such as guitars, keyboards, and drums. They may also buy other musical equipment, like amplifiers and speakers.
  • Power tools: Pawn shops frequently buy power tools, such as drills, saws, and sanders. They may also buy other types of tools, including hand tools, gardening tools, and automotive tools.
  • Collectibles: Pawn shops may buy various collectible items, including sports memorabilia, stamps, coins, and other valuable items.

In addition to the items listed above, pawn shops may also buy other items, such as firearms, sporting goods, and artwork.

How to Get Top Dollar

When selling items to a pawn shop, it’s important to know the value of the item in order to get a fair price. Pawn shops will typically offer a lower price than the item’s market value. Remember, they need to make a profit when reselling the item. It’s also important to remember that pawn shops are not obligated to buy any item. An owner may choose not to make an offer if they do not believe the item will sell.

1
Opt for an immediate cash price for more money.

Remember that you can get two different prices from a pawn shop. The first price is an outright sale price that does not include any type of short-term loan. This price tends to be slightly higher than a loan price, which will need to include some form of interest if the pawn shop needs to sit on the item for a number of months. If you know you do not want the item back, look for an immediate cash offer and not a collateral loan price.

2
Get multiple offers if possible.

If you’re looking to sell an item to a pawn shop, it’s a good idea to shop around and compare offers from multiple pawn shops. This will help ensure that you get the best price for your item. It’s also a good idea to research the value of your item before approaching a pawn shop so you have a good idea of what to expect in terms of offers.

3
Try to gauge the owner’s interest.

Sometimes dealers will give you a one-time-only offer to prevent you from shopping around. In this case, it’s helpful to know what you’re willing to accept for an item. If the item is extremely valuable and the pawn shop owner wants it, they usually don’t mind you shopping around because they are confident they will be able to pay the most for the item.

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