Pawn Shop Demand Up

(KATV) Little Rock - You've heard the saying desperate times call for desperate measures and as people continue to fall on hard times, more are turning to pawn shops for a few extra dollars to get by.

Every pawn broker we spoke to by phone attributed the rise to the poor economy. Now add the skyrocketing gold prices which they also do business in and the hit pawn TV shows are bringing in curious customers.

For years pawn shops have had an objectionable reputation, but they promise fast cash and no hidden charges for people in need.

Customers didn't want to talk about their tough times on camera. Some pawn shops have become a bank for people who don't have any other means.

William Lulky with National Pawn Shop is seeing more first time customers from professionals to the elderly, many offering up their story, "It's 50-dollars and under, a lot of people need gas, I hear a lot of that."

The amount of active loans Lulky has given out has more than doubled this year, yet more people are selling than pawning. He says, "It just seems to be that people don't really cherish the item like normally, they just want to get as much as they can to pay off their bills."

Lulky always asks how much money you need saying it's not about what you want but need, or you might end up losing the item if you can't pay the loan plus interest when it's due. "I try to encourage people to take as little money as they can get by with so they can pay it back without too much strain," Lulky adds.

National Pawn Shop plans to stay in business another 70-year, but they have a lot of customers selling items, not as many buyers. He concludes, "So we're waiting for the economy to turn around too. Hopefully it will."

The interest amount varies but for a hundred dollar item with 20-percent interest you owe 120-dollars when you pay the loan. Lulky says less people are re-claiming their merchandise that is worth much more than the loan.

This summer Central Arkansas has had a lot of burglaries. Say a pawn broker buys an item not knowing it's stolen, do they have to return the item to the rightful owner and lose the money? No, there is a law that protects pawn shops. The victim or thief has to pay the amount the merchandise was pawned for. If not anyone can walk in a pawn shop and say something is rightfully theirs and it was stolen.

Every night pawn shops are required to send pictures, serial numbers and information for the new purchases to police through the Leads on line software.