Have you ever shopped at a pawn shop? Believe it or not, you can save big money when you buy many things from a pawn shop.
The world of the pawn shop has changed. It isn’t a shady little store you should be embarrassed to go into. Think of it as a favored bargain store where you can get great deals.
Here’s a list of items that will help save you cash when you buy from a pawn shop.
In This Article
- What to Buy From a Pawn Shop
- Some Items to Avoid Buying at Pawn Shops
What to Buy From a Pawn Shop
Depending on the store, pawn shops sell just about anything these days. But what should you buy from a pawn shop?
Tools for home improvement projects, woodworking and other projects are expensive. Check out your local pawn shop before buying new. The prices they offer are typically quite a bit lower than what you’ll pay new.
Some ideas for tools you might find at a pawn shop include:
- Power drills
- Tool sets
- Basic tools such as wrenches, hammers and screwdrivers
- Hand and power saws
- Table saws and other larger tools
The selection of tools – especially at larger pawn shops – is often quite wide. Note: when buying power tools, I’d ask to test them at the shop to at least make sure they run properly.
Reputable pawn shops typically test that stuff before they take it in, but you’ll want to check yourself. Ask about warranties/guarantees too.
Note: Looking for a great side hustle? Companies like TaskRabbit will pay you to do handy work for people in need of minor home improvements or repairs.
Buying tools for your handyman/woman side hustle will cost a lot less if you buy used at a pawn shop.
2. Musical Instruments
If you’ve ever looked at purchasing a musical instrument, you know how expensive they can be new. Is it worth it to spend several hundred dollars – or even thousands of dollars – on an instrument your kid might only end up using occasionally?
Instead, take advantage of other parents who’ve made that mistake and buy your musical instruments from the local pawn shop. Guitars, violins, drums and drum sets, flutes – pawn shops that sell musical instruments have it all.
Here’s an example of how much money you can save by buying a musical instrument at an area pawn shop. Several years ago, I bought my kids an $800 keyboard for piano lessons. It was a higher-end model with 88 weighted keys, etc.
I saw that same model at a pawn shop for $100. Before you buy new, check your local pawn shop for that musical instrument and see how much money you can save.
Pawn shops often specialize in jewelry. Why? Because people love jewelry, and they love getting deals on it even more.
You can find just about any kind of jewelry items at a pawn shop:
- Diamond engagement and wedding rings
- Gold or precious stone rings
- Gold and silver necklaces and chains
- Gold and higher-end/name brand watches
- Earrings with diamonds and other precious stones
- Gold and diamond bracelets
- Antique jewelry
Choose your jewelry piece; you’re likely to find it at a pawn shop somewhere. Note that some pawn shops only have jewelry sections, while others only sell jewelry.
Check out both types of pawn shops and do some comparison shopping before you buy. When buying precious gems, ask for a certificate of authenticity too. Better safe than sorry!
Firearms are another hot item you can buy from a pawn shop. If you’re a hunter, you can find a wide variety of rifles and shotguns at area pawn shops. Also, if you want something for home protection, pawn shops often carry handguns as well.
Note that when buying firearms from a pawn shop, you’ll likely have to agree with the shop’s terms and conditions. You’ll probably need to show ID and submit to a background check too.
Reputable pawn shops work to ensure firearms get sold to law-abiding citizens with good intentions. In many states, pawn shops have to have a license to sell guns legally.
If a shop is selling guns illegally, you’d be wise to refuse to buy a firearm from that shop. As with any firearm purchase, be sure to practice safe gun handling and transporting rules as you make your purchase.
Also, inspect the firearm thoroughly and know the store’s return policy. Many shops won’t offer a return policy on a gun.
Are you a movie buff? Well, you won’t find a better deal on movies than you’ll get at your local pawn shop. From action to drama to comedy and more, pawn shops typically have pretty large movie selections.
It’s not uncommon to find DVDs at your local pawn shop for $1 and $2 each. That’s less than half the cost you’ll find in the bargain DVD bin at most big box stores.
One word of caution when buying DVDs from a pawn shop: Check the discs for scratches. Inspect them thoroughly in proper lighting to be sure the discs are in good shape.
Also, be sure the name on the DVD matches the name on the case. Distracted shoppers might accidentally put the wrong movie in the wrong case when examining the discs.
As with many other items, there are often no refunds on DVDs purchased at pawn shops. Therefore, you’ll want to do your due diligence and check quality on them before you buy them.
For some reason, bicycles seem to be a big pawn shop find. Note that you’ll likely only find bikes at pawn shops during the cycling season. So, if you live in Minnesota, you may not be able to buy a bike at a pawn shop in November.
Some shops might break this practice for the gift-giving season though, so it doesn’t hurt to check. Bike purchases at pawn shops can be especially lucrative if you’re looking for a higher-end bike brand.
Be sure to examine the bicycle thoroughly. Take a ride around outside if they’ll let you, and check the gears, brakes, tires, etc. However, in most cases, tires are easily replaceable on bicycles.
If you are looking for a bike as a gift, a pawn shop might be a great place to find one in like-new condition for a fraction of the new cost.
7. Cell phones and other personal electronic items
Personal electronics are popular items for sale at pawn shops too.
Check out local shops for items such as:
- Cell phones
- Personal computers
When buying these types of items from pawn shops, be sure you’re working with a reputable shop. Ask what their policy is for guarantees on personal electronics. Try the item out at the store if you can.
Quiz the owner or employee on their practice when they take electronic items such as phones. Do they test them? Clean them? Repair them before they put them on the shelf for sale?
A trustworthy pawn shop will have a knowledgeable electronics employee on staff. Also, ask about warranties and return policies. Reputable shops often carry them.
Plus, many shops offer protection plans as well. You may want to inquire about those protection plan options when buying electronics from a pawn shop.
8. Gaming systems
Gaming systems are commonly found at pawn shops because they’re one of the first things people get rid of when they need cash.
You can typically get decent savings when buying gaming systems at a pawn shop.
However, don’t expect a stellar deal. You’re not going to get half off retail unless the system is in rough shape. Instead, look for systems in great shape and save 10%, 20% or more.
Note: It’s okay – and expected – for you to haggle when buying from a pawn shop. Typically, shops will price a bit higher than they need to make a profit.
So feel free to haggle, but don’t expect major discounts unless you’re an incredible wheeler and dealer.
9. Video games
Pawn shops sell gaming systems – and the video games that go with them. You can get discounted video games at a pawn shop and still get the same fun you’d get with a new game.
However, it’s important when buying used video games to check the disc for scratches. A few scratches typically won’t affect quality as long as they’re not too deep. But if a game disc has a lot of scratches or deep scratches, you may want to pass it by.
Another option: check on the shop’s return policy. Also, see if they’ll allow you to try out the game right in the store. Some pawn shops will let you try video games (and gaming systems) before you buy them.
When it comes to buying gaming consoles and other electronic items from pawn shops, warranties and return policies are of the utmost importance. If a shop doesn’t stand behind what it sells, you may want to look elsewhere, such as a Gamestop store.
Gamestop stores have a “pre-owned guaranteed to work policy” and a seven day money-back guarantee.
10. Comic books
I wouldn’t suggest selling your comic books to a pawn shop, simply because most shops don’t have employees who specialize in comics and know what they’re worth.
To get a top-dollar price when you sell your comic books, you probably want to go to a comic store specialty shop.
However, you might be able to find some good deals when looking to buy comic books at a pawn shop. Not all pawn shops will take comic books – for the reason mentioned above.
But if you find one that does, you might be able to get a good deal on it.
While antique shops can often be overpriced, pawn shops aren’t necessarily interested in getting the highest dollar on antique items.
Pawn shops don’t typically specialize in antiques; they just want to make a buck. Besides, many pawn shop employees don’t know the value of antique items. For that reason, antique items might be priced lower than what they’re worth or what you could resell them for.
So when you’re selling your antiques to a pawn shop, you may not get top-dollar. But you might be able to find a stellar deal when buying antiques from a pawn shop. As an aside, thrift stores can be another great place to score a good deal on antique items.
12. Collectible coins and currency
You might be able to find a good deal on collectible coins and currency at a Pawn shop near you. Not all pawn shops carry collectible coins and currency, but many do.
It’s important to note when buying collectibles of any kind at a pawn shop to know your prices. Many online sources and books can tell you what the actual value of your collectible coin or other item is.
Be prepared with a research catalog or website address in hand when you shop to help ensure you don’t overpay when buying collectible coins at a pawn shop.
13. Small appliances
Small appliances like blenders and toasters can be a great find at a pawn shop.
14. Crystal and china
Did you miss out on putting crystal and china on your wedding registry? Or maybe you’re not married, but you’d like a nice set of crystalware and china anyways.
It wouldn’t hurt to check out your local pawn shop. When people sell stuff at a pawn shop to get cash, they sell items that have value. China and crystal tend to hold their value if they’re kept in good shape.
However, pawn shops won’t pay a seller what their china or crystal is worth; they’ll always lowball. And since they’ve paid so much less than the value of the glassware, you have a good chance of getting a deal when you buy.
Check online sources for the real value of crystal and chinaware before you buy. That way, you’ll know for sure that you paid a reasonable price. Sites such as Go Antiques may be able to give you an idea of a fair price on a china or crystal item.
15. Gift cards
Some pawn shops will sell gift cards to various restaurants and stores. They buy the gift cards from consumers at a deep discount, then resell it to people like you for a profit.
You won’t likely get a huge discount on gift cards you find at pawn shops. However, you may be able to score a 10% discount or so when buying gift cards at pawn shops. And when you’re trying to save money, it all adds up.
Note: When buying gift cards at a pawn shop, check with the owner to be sure they’ve verified the card’s authenticity. And get a receipt for your purchase. That way, if anything goes wrong, you’ll have proof you bought the card at the shop.
16. Stereo Systems and Music
One other popular purchase people get at pawn shops is music-related items. You can get stereo systems, boom boxes, CDs and more.
It’s not uncommon to find CDs by your favorite artists for $1 or $2 at a pawn shop. However, as with DVDs, be sure to check the CD to make sure it’s void of any major scratches.
When buying stereos and other music-related electronics, ask to try before you buy. This will help ensure you’re getting quality items. Ask about guarantees and warranties too.
Many shops will offer seven-day warranties and similar programs on electronics they sell. Oh, and you might be able to find vinyl record albums at your local pawn shop too. You can’t beat the musical sound of a classic vinyl album.
Some Items to Avoid Buying at Pawn Shops
There are a few things you should not buy at a pawn shop.
Televisions are touchy electronics as it is. All sorts of things can go wrong with smart TVs in particular, and not all pawn shop owners are experts at repairing them.
Unless it comes with a warranty, I’d suggest staying away from buying used televisions at pawn shops. But if you can find a shop that offers a solid guarantee policy, you might be okay.
Cameras can be another “iffy” item at pawn shops. There are so many intricate parts involved with cameras, and fixing them isn’t as easy as it is to repair a cell phone or other item.
You can find videos everywhere on how to reset and clean up a cell phone. But cameras – in my humble opinion – require specialists.
There’s one simple reason you may want to avoid buying a used vacuum – at a pawn shop or anywhere else: You have NO idea what it’s been used to clean up.
Vacuum cleaners hold smells pretty tightly. And that’s all I’ve got to say about that.
You can find some great deals on a lot of different items at pawn shops. However, you can get skunked if you’re not careful.
When shopping at pawn shops, learn which ones in your area have a reputation for being trustworthy. People talk, and online reviews can speak volumes.
Stay away from shops that have a bad reputation, and utilize the reputable pawn shops to get yourself some great deals.