What Do Pawn Shops Buy and How Can You Get Top Dollar?

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

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. Here’s how to negotiate a fair sales price with items a pawn shop owner would love to buy from you.

How to Get Top Dollar at a Pawn Shop

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. When they do make an offer, here’s how to cash in.

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.

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.

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.

Tip: Authenticity Matters

When bringing items, especially antiques, jewelry, or designer goods, to a pawn shop, always carry any certificates of authenticity, original boxes, or paperwork you might have. Authentic items fetch a higher price, and having proof of authenticity can significantly increase the value of your item in the eyes of the pawnbroker.

Commonly Pawned Items

Pawn shops are known for buying a wide variety of items. Below is a list of some of the most common items that pawn shops buy for cash:


  • Furniture
  • Clocks
  • Silverware
  • Porcelain
  • Artwork

The value of these items depends on factors like age, condition, rarity, and provenance. Be prepared to provide any documentation or authentication to support the item’s value.


  • Gold, silver, and platinum pieces
  • Diamonds and precious gemstones
  • Rings
  • Necklaces
  • Watches
  • Earrings

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.


  • Smartphones
  • Laptops
  • Tablets
  • Gaming consoles
  • Digital cameras

Musical Instruments

  • Guitars
  • Keyboards
  • Drums
  • Amplifiers
  • Speakers

Power Tools

  • Drills
  • Saws
  • Sanders
  • Hand tools
  • Gardening tools
  • Automotive tools.


  • Sports memorabilia
  • Stamps
  • War items
  • Coins

Sports Equipment

  • Bicycles
  • Golf clubs
  • Snowboards
  • Skis
  • Treadmills
  • Exercise bikes
  • Weight sets

Designer Clothing and Accessories

  • Gucci
  • Louis Vuitton
  • Prada

High-end designer clothing, handbags, shoes, and accessories may be purchased by pawn shops if they are in excellent condition and can be authenticated.

Video Games and Gaming Accessories

  • Game cartridges or discs
  • Controllers
  • Headsets

Limited edition or collectible games may be particularly valuable.

Household Appliances

  • Microwaves
  • Blenders
  • Mixers
  • Vacuum cleaners

Be sure the appliance is clean and fully functional before attempting to sell it to a pawn shop.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do pawn shops determine the value of an item?

Pawn shops typically determine the value of an item based on its current market value, condition, and demand. They may use online marketplaces, reference books, or specialized software to get an estimate. It’s also common for pawnbrokers to have expertise in specific areas, such as jewelry or musical instruments, which helps them assess an item’s worth accurately.

What happens if someone tries to pawn stolen goods?

Pawn shops are regulated by local and state laws, which require them to take measures against accepting stolen items. This often includes recording the seller’s identification, taking photographs of the item, and holding items for a specified period before selling. If an item is suspected to be stolen, the pawn shop is required to report it to the police, and the item can be confiscated. Selling stolen goods to a pawn shop can lead to criminal charges for the seller.

Can I negotiate the price offered by the pawn shop?

Yes, negotiation is a common practice in pawn shops. While the initial offer made by the pawnbroker is based on their assessment of the item’s value, customers are free to negotiate to get a better deal. It’s helpful to have an idea of your item’s worth and to be prepared to present reasons for a higher price, such as its rarity or condition.

 An informative infographic illustrating key steps to secure the best price at a pawn shop. It features a series of visually engaging images and concise text that covers essential aspects such as researching the item's value, cleaning and presenting the item, negotiating with confidence, and building rapport with the pawnbroker.

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