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7 Tips for Choosing a Good Pawn Shop

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There are many pawn shop myths, so it’s understandable that some people are skeptical about whether pawn shops are legitimate businesses or loan sharks that prey on innocent consumers. However, these myths have been debunked on many occasions and are not justified.

Pawn shops are highly regulated and provide a valuable service to millions of consumers.

Despite the above, not all pawn shops are the same. They don’t all deal in the same products, offer the same service, or have the same reputation. And as in any other industry, some are better than others.

In this article, we will share tips on how you can choose a good pawn shop that’s right for you.

Notepad with the words “top tips” written on it

Top Tips for Choosing the Right Pawn Shop

#1. Ask for Recommendations

Ask someone you know and trust if there are any good pawn shops in your area that they can recommend. Their opinion would carry more weight if they have personally dealt with the pawn shop by either buying, selling, or pawning items there.

#2. Check Customer Reviews

Man pointing toward five stars

Reading customer reviews from online review sites such as Yelp and Google My Business can give you a good idea of what you might expect as a new customer.

Bear in mind that people are more likely to leave negative reviews than positive ones, so don’t be dismayed if not everyone leaves them a 5-star rating.

In addition, search for the pawn shop on your local Better Business Bureau website, such as BBB Los Angeles and Silicon Valley if you’re based in this area. Take note if they are BBB Accredited and if there are many complaints about them.

#3. Consider Their Reputation

Most pawn shops are family-owned businesses. Consider the following:

  • How long has it been in business?
  • How long has it been managed by the same owner(s)?
  • Does it have a high staff turnover?


Pawn shops that regularly have new owners or a high staff turnover may be facing obstacles, and you might want to steer clear of them.

In addition, experience plays an important role in the pawn industry. If a pawn shop has a high staff turnover, they may no longer have the expertise that comes from being in the industry for many years.

#4. Are They Licensed?

Pawn shops must be licensed. For example, in California pawn shops are regulated by the California Department of Justice. Licensing may be obtained through either the chief of police, the sheriff, or, where appropriate, the police commission.

If you’re in another state, make sure your pawnbroker has a valid pawn shop license.

#5. How Fair and Knowledgeable Are They?

Shining globe representing knowledge

Pawnbrokers have to be fair and knowledgeable before they can meet your needs. If you want to sell or pawn an item, familiarize yourself with it first. Do some market research to find out what the fair market value of your item is.

If your pawn shop gives you a similar valuation, good. If their valuation is substantially less and they cannot motivate why, you may want to look for another pawn shop.

Note: A pawn shop cannot pay you the market value of your item as they also need to make money.

#6. Do They Meet Your Needs?

Are they conveniently located and deal in items you are interested in buying, selling, or pawning? For example, not all pawn shops (including Maxferd) deal in guns. So if you’re looking for specific items such as guns, find a pawn shop that deals in them.

At Maxferd, we accept the following items:

  • Jewelry
  • Broken jewelry
  • Fine watches
  • Precious metals and coins
  • Loose diamonds and precious gemstones
  • High-end DSLR cameras and equipment
  • Apple products
  • Laptops and computers
  • Musical instruments
  • Certain collectibles
  • Luxury handbags
  • Art

#7. Do They Offer Good Customer Service?

The words "customer service" on laptop screem

Good customer service is non-negotiable. If a pawn shop is not able or willing to provide you with good service, walk away. You don’t want to deal with a pawn shop that makes you feel they’re doing you a favor talking to you.

That's a Wrap

We trust the seven tips in this article will help you find a good pawn shop that’s right for you and will meet your expectations.

If you’re looking for a good pawn shop in Los Angeles or San Francisco, visit one of our pawn shops. We have been in the pawn industry since 1884 when we opened our first pawn shop in San Francisco. And 135+ years later, we are still as devoted to our customers as the day we first started.