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Pawn shops feeling the COVID-19 pinch

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Before there were credit cards or even banks, pawn shops were a quick way to exchange or borrow goods for cash.

“Pawn brokers write collateral loans against an item of value for for their customers.”

Cyndee Harrison of the National Pawnbrokers Association says when the person wants the item back, they simply pay back the loan plus interest.

But like business all across the county, some are hurting thanks to the coronavirus.

“Typically pawn brokers have two sides to their business. They have retail sales which is very easy to understand if you make sales you make a profit off your sales, but because their margins are so low on the item they sell, they also depend on that income from interest and so when one of those two pieces of the see-saw is off, of course, there is an imbalance,” said Harrison.

And while pawn shops all across the country are facing their own unique challenges thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, you may be wondering about pawn shows in North Dakota. Well, KX News went go find out.

We swung by Bell Pawn & Collectibles in Bismarck. Manager Brett Bohere tells us business is great, but for a reason you may not expect.

“We’ve had people buy, with like their stimulus money, right off the bat, go by an eight or nine hundred dollar TV, and a week later they’d have to pawn it because they didn’t have any money and they would lose ’em, and we’ve had a lot of merchandise like that, newer merchandise that people just bought and they couldn’t afford to get it back, which is very unfortunate,” said Bohere.

He adds foot traffic is down, but internet sales are up drastically.

They’re also getting calls from stores across the country looking to fill their empty shelves.

“Especially printers, we’re really short on them when the pandemic started. Game systems too, Nintendo Switch’s, PS4’s. We get calls on those every day. Lot of computers and a lot of networking items like routers we get calls on a lot,” said Bohere.

He adds they have had a large increase in items being forfeited, meaning the person never comes back to repay the loan and loses their item.

Meaning people continue to struggle in these uncertain times.

Both the National Pawnbrokers Association and local pawn brokers each told us they hope another stimulus package is passed soon to get money back in the hand of those who need it most.

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