Pawn shops seem like the type of business that would be relatively uniform at this point. You can sell things, buy second hand, and place your item in the care of the store in exchange for a temporary loan. But since many pawn shops are independently owned businesses, it’s actually the opposite–there can be great differences in your experience at each and every pawn shop. Here are some things to take note of when deciding which pawn shop is the best one for you.

1) Reputation

While the allure of a brand-new pawn shop on the day of its grand opening might seem like too much to pass up, it might actually be a better idea to visit a pawn shop that has been open for much, much longer instead. This will allow you to read reviews and talk to people who have been to the establishment, so that you know what to expect when you go. A shop with a great reputation will also put you at ease, knowing that you’re less likely to have issues with items or with service.

2) Specialization

It’s fairly common to find a pawn shop that sells “everything”, but clearly has a big focus on a few items. For example, a shop may have a focus on musical instruments, or hunting equipment. If you know you’re looking for a specific item, it may be best to try one of these businesses first. Not only are they going to have more selection and variety in that specific item, but the staff will be well-versed in the finer details of it, making sure that you get what you want and, a bit more importantly, what you need.

3) Prices

As we said earlier,pawn shops are not standardized business and many are independently owned. This means that pricing can vary wildly. It’s thus very important that you do research beforehand, both on the average price for the item you’re looking for, and on the differences in pricing between shops. Many pawn shops (like McBride’s) have at least partial listings of their inventory online, so that you can get an idea of how much things will cost before you go to the shop in person. Sometimes you can even purchase from the shop online!

Pawn shops are as different and varied as the people who run them–make sure you use these tips to pick the best one for you!

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