From trying to sell their beanie babies for a high price, to negotiating the price of fake diamonds, pawn shop employees share worthless items that people tried to sell them.
[Source can be found at the end of the article]
Having worked at a pawn shop before, I can say there are plenty of amazing stories of customers and their antics. Usually the best stories revolve around jewelry. This one woman came in with a big gold-colored ring and wanted to get a few hundred dollars for it. Picking it up and looking at it I could tell it was super fake, and I tried to explain that to her. She wouldnt buy it because the street vendor told me it was solid 14kt. I went and picked up our huge earth magnet and put it near the ring, and it shot right to it. I explained that solid gold is not magnetic.
She was stunned, and couldnt believe that she had spent like $200 for it.
The best one I had was a lady trying to pawn her grandma’s antique DVD player.
She said it was like 50 years old and wanted $100.
I showed her the stamp on the back that said it was made in 2009. And she said oh I grabbed the wrong one.
My dad runs one. One guy brought in a huge bag of wheat pennies expecting to walk out with a big pay day but really they aren’t worth all that much. I think he offered the guy like $20 and he stormed off mad.
I own a similar store. People still think their beanie babies have value. People also tend to think what items sell for online are what they will sell for at the same price and speed locally.
Woman came in trying to sell her late grandmother’s antique Civil War doll to make some money. Had to explain to her it was just some cheap decorative whiskey bottle from the 1970s. Still had some in it.
She was a little disappointed, but her grandmother was an alcoholic so she wasn’t surprised.
I worked in one for a few years. A girl came in already in tears holding an engagement ring. Everyone at a pawn shop feels obliged to tell you why they are selling/pawning and she told me she had recently moved across the country and had just found out that her fianc had married her friend back home. The big problem was that I could tell it was a fake as she was walking in the door. All I could tell her was “if you thought he was a jerk before you came in here you’re not going to like what I’m about to tell you.” Ended up giving her $5 for a worthless ring just to give her something and she ended up a bit happier because she now had something new to hate him for and couldn’t wait to tell him.
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I was a Pawn Broker for a while. So many junkies trying to sell fake jewelry. But this one lady really stood out. She came in with a chain & pendant in a cute little box. First thing we do is look for marking, while I was doing that she started getting feisty, yelling at me saying “why are you doing that? Don’t you see it says made in Italy!? Hey stop are you blind!?” At this point I’m like “okay lady, we can’t take this. It’s not real gold.” and she just flips out saying it doesn’t matter, it’s from Italy and this and that. Called me stupid and flipped the finger at all the staff. All we did is laugh, but as she reved off she hit a BMW and the owner saw her. We turned over the security taping to the cops.
I worked in a small pawn shop for about three years and my personal favorite was when a greasy guy came in and dumped out a garbage bag of broken computer fans and a few assorted computer parts. We laughed for a few minutes and realized this guy was serious. My boss asked him how much he wanted for it all and the guy said he didn’t know how much it would be worth but he heard there was gold in computer parts. We had to break it to this guy that the plastic computer fans had no gold in them and we can check out the other parts. My boss gave him $5 for his trouble.
I once had this old fellow try to sell me a tribal wooden African figure in a grass skirt. You know the type. When I told him it was worthless, he tried to convince me that the skirt was made out of real lions mane! When I inevitably shot him down and called his bluff, he pulled a BIC lighter out of his pocket. “Do you wanna buy this instead then?”
Worked in the pawn industry for over a decade, off and on. You see people bring in worthless stuff all day, wanting way too much for it. People don’t understand depreciation, especially with electronics. On that note, I have had a person bring me what he thought was a 1962 Fender Strat. guitar. It wasn’t, but that didn’t stop him from flipping out, kicking merchandise, cussing us out. Now the owner didn’t take anything from anyone. He tackled this dude, tied his hands with zip ties, and called the cops. Turns out it was a Fender Starcaster (cheapest guitar Fender makes) $99-120 brand new.
I worked at a shop for twelve years. One of the most common scenarios is when a relative ignorantly thinks or flat out lies about something they hand down. Guns are one of the most common. “My great grandpa took this off of a Nazi in world war II.” The rifle in question being a 1950s mosin with century arms import marks from the 1980s. Tons of “antique” silverware from the 1800s that was made in the 1960s that is nickel silver (worth nothing), and countless medieval swords that were made in china that they want 500 bucks for that you can buy in a catalog for 29.99.
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I worked in my cousin’s pawn shop for a couple years.
One guy brought in a bunch of cigar box banjos he bought in New Orleans. He told us how much he paid for them when he got them, then he asked us how much they were worth. We said… “Uh, the same amount you paid for them.” I really didn’t know what he was expecting us to say. “WOW! TERRIBLE HANDMADE CIGAR BOX BANJOS?? You only paid $40 each? They’re worth at LEAST $200 each!”
I helped in one for about 1/2 a year. Gentleman brought in a computer that his son had made saying that is was the latest and greatest (its was not). It still had that nice old cream color and i’m pretty sure couldn’t play minesweeper without lagging. I offered him about 20 dollars, since it was a whole computer (was always told to lowball). This story about his story about his son making it was just a ruse to make is sound better than it was. He got extremely angry and said if I didn’t throw a couple Benjamins he would get his shotgun. I just calmly waved our security over. But it was interesting.
I worked in a pawnshop for three years in NC. I had a couple of stoned/drunk guys come in on a Saturday just as I was trying to close. One staggered up to the counter and pulled a box out of a plastic grocery bag.
“You ain’t gonna believe this, man. I have a collectors item worth one thousand dollars.”
He was correct, at least about the first part.
He proceeded to sit a “Gladriel” doll from the lord of the rings movie on the counter.
As usual, I pulled up Ebay to find many for sale in the $10-20 range. I turned the screen to show him and he flew into a rage.
He jerked out his flip phone and dialed someone and proceeded to spit/scream into the phone “Where did you see this doll for a thousand dollars?” Then turns and spits/screams at me “Go to Google goddamit! Go to google!”
I wasn’t even mad.
I worked at a pawn shop for 4 years. People were usually mad because they over estimate the value of their stuff. My favorite was this lady who told me it was my fault her bank was for closing on her house. I gave her $15 when she needed $30 on her DVD/VHS combo. That was the only thing she brought to pawn. She even stared crying, when that didn’t work she started yelling at me. I told her to stop cussing at me or I wouldn’t do the pawn at all. She took the money. Came back the next day to pick it up and gave me the stink eye the whole time. I thought it was too funny.
My buddy managed a pawn shop and had some great stories.
One of my favorite stories was this guy came in looking to sell a 40″+ tv, Wii, DVD player, DVDs, power tools, etc. — all blatantly stolen. When questioned about why they were selling these items they said it was for Christmas gift money. He offered $10 for everything because he knew it was ripped off. The guy threw a fit and then eventually accepted it and promptly left.
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I don’t own one but I did work in work for a couple of years, the most memorable one was only about 30 seconds. Large sweaty man walks in with a belt sander, set it down on the counter in front of me and plugged right in. Made direct eye contact and switched it on. The sander immediately made a loud popping sound and smoke begin to rise. Unplugged it, turned around and walked out without a single word between us.
My great uncle owns a pawn shop and some of the stuff that happens there is hilarious or heartbreaking.
People trying to sell free old TVs they got on craigslist for hundreds of dollars because now they are “vintage.”
Obviously rented instruments for their kid’s band class that have tags on them from the rental place.
And oh boy, do people get pissed about engagement rings. He literally has a bag of engagement rings, they so easy to come by. Women tend to be sad when they find out they get almost nothing or are fake. Men tend to get aggressive, enough that he has my cousin up front watch out extra-careful when he tells a dude he can’t pay really much of anything for what the dude thought was an “investment” ring.
On the other hand, if someone is in trying to sell their wedding ring, especially if it’s a lady with kids, he’s been known to just give them $50 and send them on their way.
I buy and repair typewriters. It’s an odd niche hobby of mine more than anything. Typewriters can go for a lot of money! But, most aren’t honestly worth what people want. 85% of typewriters are worth no more than $125 in pristine condition. Many times people will try to sell their inherited typewriters for $50 to $1000 more in some cases than they’re worth. I’ve seen one person try to sell a typewriter to me for $650 because he saw one online for $700 in a different color. I had bought the exact same typewriter 3 days before for $63. One typewriter, several people were trying to all sell them for $150-250. I bought one, in amazing condition, better than the higher priced ones for $70.
Just because someone labels something a price and/or because it’s old doesn’t mean it’s worth that price or valuable. That’s not how it works.
I’ve been working in a pawnshop for 6 years now. So many stories. My favorite was a guy who had been in several times with complete crap. We never bought any of it. This time he gets pissed and demands that we buy something and refuses to leave until we do. He is being very loud and cursing. He was clearly on some sort of drug. We told him we were going to call the cops and he responded with “Good. When they get here I’m gonna have them arrest you.” We called the cops right in front of him and he actually stuck around for them to show up. The cops arrived and asked him to step outside and tell his side of the story. He continues to make it very clear that he is drugged up on something and they take his backpack. He is talking to one officer while the other starts going through his bag. He turns to see the officer going through his bag and violently snatches it away from him. The look of “did you seriously just do that” on the cops face was priceless. They tackled him from both sides, wrestled him to the ground, cuffed him, and put him in the back of the car. One of the officers walked in and simply states. “We’re going to take him with us. Is everything else ok?
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I worked at Sam Ash for a long while. You can sell instruments there, not exactly a pawn shop but the same concept.
Guy walks in with two VERY NICE obviously handmade boutique basses. One is left handed, one is right handed. Obviously a red flag that a novice wouldn’t even think about.
“Hey I want to sell my basses?”
“Ok. Any particular reason?”
“I don’t play them anymore.”
“I see…Just couldn’t decide if you were left or right handed?”
He wants $700 for both. Looking at them I figured they were $3-4k each. Problem was they didn’t have a name, just a logo. Lots of googling later and we have a brand. Call the builder up and his warehouse was robbed weeks before. Police are called, guy arrested, and as fast as I know builder gets his basses back. I got a “I’d like to come down some time and buy you lunch as a thank you for your work” from the builder.
Still waiting on that lunch.
I have 2 that come to mind. First was a old lady that wanted $4 for some pizza. She had to offer a coffee mug from a local insurance company. I explained I was sorry but if she was hungry I’d give her a dollar to keep the mug and go get herself 2 hotdogs. She threatened to vomit in my face then proceeded to throw the mug into the wall above my head and stormed out.
Second was just a few weeks ago. A 40-ish year old man pulls into my parking lot while I was out smoking and says he’s got something great. He then pulls out a dollar general brand toy train from the front seat with a look of glee. I humor him and pull it up on ebay and show him that unfortunately it’s only worth $3. He snatched it back and screamed I know trains are worth a lot of money and I don’t know anything. I, as politely as possible, tell him to leave. I wasn’t even open and I took time after hours to help as best I could. I come inside and sit to do my paperwork when I hear a loud engine running in the parking lot. I stand up and this guy got a chainsaw from his trunk and is coming up the steps. I grab a snub nose 6 shooter pistol air gun off the shelf. When he swung open the door I pulled the gun on him and said 1 more step and you’re dead. He huffed and turned and went back to his car and left and I went and cleaned my shorts. If he called my bluff, I would have been chainsawed to pieces for a train.
I used to work in one owned by my dad’s cousin. Some lady walked in and we examined her jewelry which we determined was fake gold, so she walked away mad and I guess she threw it in the trashcan by the exit. Later that same day we see a man walk in that seems to just be looking around, and after a few minutes he goes to the counter and shares a story about how his grandmother passed away and left him some jewelry which was passed down through many generations, but that time were tough so he wanted to pawn the jewelry temporarily until he able to get some more money. So we tell him sure, we can take a look at it. Well he pulls out the exact same jewelry the lady had earlier that day. But not to anger him we test it with a magnet just to show him it isn’t real gold.
He then gets very angry saying that it is real gold and that it is 50k rare gold from the 1700s and thats why it is magnetic. For anyone who knows about gold, 1. Real gold isn’t magnetic 2. The purest form of gold is 24k. We explain that to him and he gets mad and pulls out a knife and starts trying to break our bulletproof glass with a cheap looking knife, and breaks his knife. After that he just walks out and we never saw him again. While closing up we checked the trash can and the Jewelry the lady threw out was nowhere to be found.
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I used to work in my dad’s pawn shop as a teen, well one day my bike (a pretty expensive mountain bike) disappeared from the garage. The very next day a rather shady looking younger teen came in trying to sell us a bike. I took one look at it and knew it was my bike.
I told the dude that I had to show it to my dad in the back of the store for a second, and I wheeled it calmly into a back office, locked the door, and called the police.
Came back to the counter, he’s sweating, eyes darting around the place, “So how much is the bike worth?”
“Oh, almost a thousand bucks.”
His eyes almost bulged out of his skull, he basically started salivating.
“I’m so glad you found it.” I smiled. He looked confused. “I had wondered where my bike had got to. Disappeared out of my garage yesterday.”
He started stuttering excuses rapidly, saying that it’s his bike, and not mine, “Prove it!”
So I did.
When the police arrived, I pointed to a label under the seat with my name, address and phone number on it. Needless to say, he legged it pretty quick but didn’t make it very far.
I have so many stories I could go on forever. I already posted somewhere else before about how someone tried to sell me an iPhone with a gold vinyl wrap and expected me to believe he had an iPhone 5 made out of solid gold.
Usually a customer will come in, ask for a price and I will offer 150 for the item, what follows is a look of smugness from the customer who then proceeds to tell me that we are selling that item in the window for 300 so that’s the price they want. Obviously there is a reason these guys do not own their own business with expectations like that but the lack of common sense astounds me.
Had a customer just the other day who had a bunch of those Skylander figures (kids love them and they sell fast) but someone brought in a box of 30, no problem. I offer a price for each one individually, maybe a couple of pounds for each one and for every item he had an ebay link for the item showing a listing of 10 or higher. Please do not use ebay to try and justify your valuation of items and then insult the staff when they explain why you may be incorrect.
I am a store manager at one of the busiest pawn shops in northern California. And because of that I have the high volume of customers that most don’t so that means lots of stories.
1. A guy brought in a stone painted green claiming it was “ancient gold” and that after eons it had developed a patina. I tried to explain to him that all gold is ancient gold made in something as intense as dead star colliding but he insisted it was gold. After about 30 minutes of discussion he forced me to test it and when I showed him it wasn’t gold he told me he spent 4k buying it off some guy.
2. A guy brought in a bag of used syringes and wanted to trade it for a TV. I did not oblige.
3. A guy brought in a piece of safety glass from a windshield and claimed it was a diamond even when I assured him it wasn’t.
4. Someone brought in a clump of bent and slightly melted forks and spoons claiming it was a meteorite fallen from the is trash dump shot into space.
5. Someone brought in a costume cape claiming it was the real invisibility cloak from Harry Potter. With further questioning he didn’t think it was a prop from the movie but the actual magical cape.
6. (As a watch guy this is my favorite): someone brought in a “Rolex” watch claiming their father gave it to them. When I showed her that it actually said “rolflex” and “skiss made” she claimed that those were misprints and meant it was worth more because of it. After I opened the watch to show her the movement I saw that there was no movement at all but just a weight in the back.
7. A couple came in with an old 1990 30″ TV claiming that it was antique and refused to leave the store until we game them $800 for it. We showed them selling online for literally a couple of dollars but they refused and said they know what they had.