Pawn shops are like antique shops for a new generation: all the things you want to buy at a decent price, without all the dust on top. An afternoon in a pawn shop is an afternoon well spent. But as you wander around, you may find a few… interesting items.
Pawn shop salesmen were asked: “What is the strangest thing a person has tried to pawn at your shop?” These are some of the best answers.
A guy comes in with a brick he spray painted gold. Then he got mad and threw it at my co-worker when he wouldn’t look at it. So my co-worker grabbed a cattle prod he keeps beneath the counter and chased the guy into the street. Never saw him again.
Someone came in with an obviously recently used dialysis machine (still had blood sprayed on it like they ripped it away while it was in use) and tried to sell it for thousands of dollars. We passed.
We had plenty of sketchy people coming in with their kid’s old YuGiOh and Magic cards thinking they were extremely valuable. Usually it was just a mismatched starter set from the early 2000s, or the like. I’m not sure what started the idea that old trading cards were going to be ridiculously valuable. But no, I won’t give you meth money for your Dark Magician. The level of disappointment, and often outright rage on their part was difficult to deal with. I began just telling creepy-looking people (who weren’t store regulars) that we didn’t purchase cards.
I once had a guy try to pawn a sterling silver penis ring. At least he said it was sterling silver. I wasn’t touching that thing to find out.
I had a guy try selling me a gun. Before I could even get him out of there, he began to point the gun around with people all over the store, PULLING THE TRIGGER. That guy… That guy was a special kind of guy. Fortunately, the gun wasn’t loaded. But still.
I had a guy come in with a 40 inch 10k gold linked chain that was massive. This chain had a Cookie Monster charm bigger than my fist with 2.0 karat diamonds for his eyes. The whole thing itself weighed 153.4 grams. I could easily have given him $1500, but he only wanted $100.
A customer tried to pawn a truck that we already had the deed too. That’s right, we already owned the truck and he wanted to pawn it. I guess he forgot because drugs.
My dad had some woman come in and try to pawn her crack.
A guy literally brought in an rocket-propelled grenade. He was doing yard work for this old lady whose husband had passed. She gave it to him for doing some yard work, not realizing it was live and active. This guy was career military, and after the bomb squad came and disabled it, they went to her house and found a trove of similarly illegal military grade weapons.
We had this guy who would dig through garbage cans and try to bring us stuff to sell. That’s not uncommon, but it was very obvious that this stuff was straight up from a dumpster and he had dug it out like 10 minutes before he walked in the store.
One time, we had to kick him out because he was losing his mind over the fact we wouldn’t give him $15 for a desk lamp that had a broken neck, despite the fact the pawnbroker pulled up the exact lamp on Target’s website selling for $10. This guy just did not get it.
People try to pawn prosthetic appendages (yes more than one person). Like, their own. As in, “I’ll just leave my leg and hobble home.”
A guy walked in with a metal lockbox and said he had something worth billions. He opened the lockbox and there were wood chips, accompanied by the smell of spray paint. He claimed they were relics of the cross Jesus was crucified on. He is descended from an ancient and noble line of knights who took oaths to protect the cross. He wanted $2000 for the lockbox and wood chips.
he tried to pawn a loaf of bread and 4 cans of soup. Then he threatened to kill us when we denied him.
Somebody brought in their dead grandmother’s gold tooth, plucked from her ashes. We told her that the tooth had to be separated from the gold for us to weigh it. They desecrated their loved one’s remains for less than $2.
Someone brought us diamond-encrusted sex toys. The store manager ended up taking them in; I can’t remember for how much though.
I was offered a prosthetic leg and a portable 8-track player at the same time just last week. I bought the 8-track.
I once had a customer walk up to the counter, slide a gold coin to me, and say, “I think this is gold, man.” This particular customer reeked of bile and looked like he was high on everything possible. I looked at the coin and slid it back to him and replied, “I think it’s a Chuck E. Cheese token. I can tell by the mouse on it.” He just said, “Oh,” and walked away.
A couple came in with an old 1990 30″ TV claiming that it was an antique and refused to leave the store until we gave them $800 for it. We showed them selling online for literally a couple of dollars, but they refused and said they knew what they had.
A coworker told me about these little pony figurines he took in. There were probably 5 of them and he did like 10 bucks each. The lady ended up paying interest on them for about 5 years before finally getting them out.
I had a guy a couple years back try to sell me the bathroom in his apartment. He’d written up this kinda-legal looking thing, but when I told him the whole proposal made no sense, and that he didn’t own the bathroom anyway, the guy got very upset. He told me it was where he pooped, that had to be of some value, and that I was a con artist. He was yelling about writing the governor on his way out the door.
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.
I had a young guy come in with two gold teeth. He pawned them and actually got them back. The thing was though, he had a full set of teeth, so I don’t know whose they were…
I had a friend who worked in a coin shop. A lot of people thought it was a pawnshop, so he would get wheat pennies all the time; people were convinced they were worth $50 each.
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 supernovas, but he insisted it was gold. After about 30 minutes of discussion, he forced me to test it. When I showed him it wasn’t gold, he told me he spent 4k buying it off some guy.
I used to work for one of those roadshow businesses, where we would set up shop in hotel banquet rooms and buy people’s collectibles from them. Most of the time, people brought in things like coins, gold and silver, and vintage guitars. We were doing a show in Tennessee, and while I’m sitting there at my workstation, one of the guys who worked for me just burst out laughing. I look over and I see the lady who had been sitting at his table walking out of the room. So I went over and asked him what was going on.
He told me that she set shoe box down on his table and when he asked what was in it, instead of her saying jewelry or coins or something normal that we see every day, she told him: “Back in the 1960s, I had a one night stand with Elvis Presley. When he left my apartment, I went into the bathroom and realized he didn’t flush. sS I saved it.” She literally saved Elvis Presley’s poop for 50+ years. We didn’t actually get to see it, nor would we have wanted to, but I couldn’t imagine that it would’ve still been preserved at all.
Someone brought in a clump of bent and slightly melted forks and spoons claiming it was a meteorite fallen from the ISS trash dump shot into space.
We had a woman bring in this bizarre looking machine. She sets it on the counter and says, “I want five hundred for it.” We’re just staring at the machine, and then looking at her. Finally the pawnbroker goes, “Uh, what is it?” It was a homemade breast pump. Yeah. This woman made her own breast pump and thought she would get $500 for it. So weird and gross.
A lady comes in with 4 or 5 Folgers cans filled with wheat pennies and wanted some exorbitant amount of money for them. We offer her the value of the pennies, because that’s all they’re worth. She proceeds to flip out and gets so upset that she decides to leave the cans on the counter rather than lug them back to her car.
I have a buddy whose parents run a pawn shop. He had a lady come in with one of those gold plated Pokemon cards from a Burger King promotion in the ’90s, swearing it was solid gold and worth thousands. He told her there was no way it was gold and that it was probably plated steel. But she wouldn’t have it, and refused to leave until they examined it.
To appease her, he offered to test it, but warned that if it wasn’t real gold, the test would scar the card with a permanent black mark. He had her sign a waiver, did the test, and the card got scarred, proving it was worthless. She immediately got angry and threatened to sue. He reminded her about the waiver and she stormed off, leaving the card behind. I think the shop still has it too.
I work at a coin store, and it is amazing the number of people who think their pocket change is worth thousands. It is always weird when we get dental gold too; it is super creepy looking.
Some of this material has been edited for clarity.