There are many misconceptions about the pawnbroker industry. The following facts address much of the fiction about how we do business, the cost of our service, and the customers we serve.
FICTION: Pawnbrokers lend only to the unemployed and the unbanked.
FACT: Individuals who use pawnbroker services are hardworking citizens with jobs–most of whom have bank accounts. These individuals sometimes need a small short-term loan to help make ends meet. Eighty percent of our customers are employed; 82 % of them have a high school diploma or GED, the average age of our customer is 42, and more than a third of our customers own their own home.
Further, small business owners frequently use our services when they encounter cash flow problems and need money for such things as payroll.
FICTION: Pawnshops are the largest buyer of secondhand goods.
FACT: Not true. Locally, pawnbroker transactions make up less then 10% of the secondhand goods buyer market. With the growth in Internet buying, online auction sites like E-Bay, generate more than 99% of secondhand goods buyer activity. However, law officials do not monitor such sites closely, which makes them ideal vehicles for thieves to unload stolen goods.
FICTION: Pawnshops are a haven for criminals looking to unload stolen goods.
FACT: This is simply not true. Less then one-half of 1% of items brought into pawnshops are stolen. In fact, pawnbrokers, including Top Dollar Pawnbrokers, work closely with local police to retrieve stolen goods and help curtail criminal activity in the community. For each transaction, we require two forms of ID as well as a thumbprint. Each day, Top Dollar provides local police with detailed descriptions of all transactions which are videotaped, including model numbers, serial numbers, and customer data. If an item is stolen, the police confiscate it. Top Dollar then goes to court to help prosecute the criminal!
FICTION: Pawnbrokers charge much higher fees than other short-term lenders.
FACT: Typically, pawnbroker fees are less than those charged by other short-term lenders. Our average loan is $72, which carries a fee of about $14. The larger the loan, the lower the fee. In addition, consumers choose pawnbrokers as a lending option to avoid higher fees such as re-connection fees charged by utility companies and bank NSF fees, which range from $27 to $35.
FICTION: Pawnbrokers are not good corporate citizens and don’t give back.
FACT: Again, not true. Pawnbrokers are responsible and engaged members of the community. At Top Dollar, we make regular donations to local organizations, including the Children’s Cancer Recovery Foundation, the Katie Able Foundation, local churches, public schools, as well as police and fire stations. In addition, to promote reading among children who live near our store, we created the Children’s Book Corner, an in-store bookshelf with loads of free books for neighborhood kids to read and enjoy.