Forget holiday shopping at the big box stores. Some people are checking off their Christmas lists in pawn shops.
These stores promise great deals, lots of variety, and even Christmas layaway. We wanted to know if it is just junk inside those stores or if you really can find deals on hidden gems.
So we asked a WBTV staff member to do some of her Christmas shopping in a pawn shop.
"I've never been in a pawn shop in my life," said Yvonne Simons.
Like many of us she's been intimidated by the storefronts. With a $25 per person Christmas limit, a friend suggested she hit up a pawn shop and Yvonne was ready for the challenge.
"I could be out of my mind or maybe not. Since I have not been in before, I'm going to keep an open mind," she said.
While Yvonne visited three Central Avenue, Charlotte, pawn shops, we stopped into Ken Hogue's pawn shop on South Boulevard. He has been in the pawn business for 30 years.
"We used to deal with just the poor people but now we deal with the middle class," Hogue tells WBTV.
His clientele are now people who suddenly and unexpectedly find themselves shorter on cash than is comfortable.
"We have to keep the merchandise moving because we have and more coming in every day that we're either buying or loaning people money on," he added.
We learned two things. You can find just about anything in stores like this. Also, when shopping at a pawn shop, you should negotiate.
It's what Yvonne did. After just one pawn shop visit she had success. She picked up a topaz necklace which came in just over budget but she's considering it as a birthday gift for her mom or her sister.
"She asked $75 for it and I countered with $40. We settled on $43," Yvonne said.
While she didn't have any luck at the second shop, in the third she picked up two gifts.
"For my sister I got a watch. It's a nice one. For my brother, he doesn't have a digital camera so I got him a simple one. They wanted $30 and I paid $20," she said.
Yvonne did check that the camera worked and Hogue says you must.
"Pick it up and check it out closely. Play with it. If they don't let you, it's a red flag," Hogue said.
He also said it's appropriate to comparison shop between pawn shops.
Yvonne says she will go back for more shopping, but she says it is only good for those who know how to spot a deal and can pick out quality merchandise.
If you have items around the house you'd like to make some money on, and you are thinking of selling to a pawn shop, you can check out the web exclusive video at the top of the page to learn whether this is a good time to get the most money for your items.
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