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Pawn Shops vs. Craigslist

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We all have items that we once wanted but are ready to let go of. Perhaps we are no longer attached to it, want to replace it, or simply need extra cash.

Pawn shops and Craigslist are both great places to sell or buy items, but as you’ll see in this article, going to a pawn shop has benefits that Craigslist cannot offer.

Craigslist Los Angeles

Pros and Cons of Pawn Shops vs. Craigslist

Buying Items

Craigslist typically has more product categories and items listed in your area than you would find in a pawn shop. However, it’s difficult to judge a product based on a couple of images and its description without physically seeing and touching it.   

Here is an example of antiques listed on Craigslist Los Angeles.

Antiques for sale on Craigslist Los Angeles

Images often don’t show details like small dents, chips, and scratches.

Let’s take a look at the antique mirror in the top right corner.

Craigslist Antique Item

The mirror is obviously damaged, but it’s hard to get a good idea of its condition by only looking at a photo.

Craigslist item description

The description is full of spelling and grammar mistakes. After the seller describes the mirror and its condition, he or she ends by saying it’s in “very good condition.”

Without any disrespect to the seller, it would be very difficult to decide if you want to buy this mirror without first seeing it. If you drive to the seller and decide you don’t want it, you have wasted your time and gas.

In addition, is the asking price reasonable? What is it based on? You may be able to pick up bargains on Craigslist, but you may also overpay.

You may not find a variety of antique mirrors at your local pawn shop, but it’s quick and easy to inspect the items they have. And you know the price of an item is based on its market value so there is less risk that you would pay too much for it.

Pawn shops have more knowledge, experience, and expertise at selling an item at the right price than most sellers on Craigslist. This does not mean you cannot find bargains at a pawn shop. On the contrary, pawn shops often offer great deals on items they have had in stock for a long time or if they want to make space for other items.


Craigslist offers more variety, but nothing beats inspecting an item at a pawn shop and discussing it with an expert.


If you’re looking to buy a specific item, phone your local pawn shop and find out if they carry it. If they do, go and have a look and discuss it with them. If they don’t, your next best option is to search for it on Craigslist.

Selling Items

Listing an item on Craigslist is quick and easy. Unlike a pawn shop, you don’t need to take the item in to be evaluated. This is very convenient if you’re selling a large item and want the buyer to collect it from you.

A further advantage of Craigslist is that you might be able to sell your item at a higher price than a pawn shop is prepared to offer you. Remember that pawn shops also need to make money and cannot pay the same price for an item that they can sell it for.

Despite the above advantages, you might be competing against many other sellers. There is no guarantee you’ll get your asking price. Many items take weeks to sell and some don’t sell at all.

The main advantage that pawn shops offer sellers is that they can walk in with an item and walk out with cash in their pocket a short while later.


You might be able to get a better price for your item if you sell it on Craigslist, but if you need cash in a hurry then going to a pawn shop is your best bet.


Before listing your item on Craigslist, first try to make a deal with a pawn shop. You might be pleasantly surprised how much a pawn shop can pay you. And even if you are not satisfied with the price you’re offered, you’ll know more about the market value of the item. 

If you can’t reach a deal with a pawn shop and don’t need the cash in a hurry then listing it on Craigslist is a good second option.

Additional Benefits Pawn Shops Offer

Here are some additional benefits pawn shops offer that Craigslist cannot match.

Pawn Shop Loans

If you’re attached to an item but need cash in a hurry, you may not have to sell it. Pawn shops offer collateral loans against a large variety of items without a credit check by accepting your item as security for the loan. Once the loan is paid, you can collect your item.

Layaway Program

Want an item but cannot afford it right away or don’t want to max out your credit card? No problem. A layaway program allows you to secure your item by making a deposit, followed by affordable monthly payments. Once your item is paid, you can collect it.

No Fake or Stolen Goods

Pawn shops are highly regulated. They don’t trade in fake merchandise, and all purchases are reported to local law enforcement who compares it to a database of stolen goods before it can be sold. There are no guarantees if you buy a product on Craigslist that it won’t be fake or stolen.

Safe Environment

Pawn shops offer you a safe, secure, and friendly environment. Although most buyers and sellers on Craigslist are good and honest people, there are many scammers. In addition, meeting a stranger or going to their house to inspect an item is risky.

That's a Wrap

We trust you find this article helpful and informative.

Although pawn shops and Craigslist both have their place in the market, pawn shops offer more benefits to buyers and sellers than Craigslist. We recommend going to a pawn shop as your first option and only using Craigslist if the pawn shop cannot meet your needs.

If you have any questions about items you want to buy, sell, pawn, or have evaluated – don’t hesitate to contact Maxferd.

Call us at (800) 888-7296 or visit one of our five locations in San Francisco and Los Angeles to find out how we can assist you.