Pawn Shop Bargaining Secrets Learned From Pawn Stars

28 July 2015
 Categories: Business, Blog


While pawn shops may have suffered from a slightly tarnished reputation in years past, shows like Pawn Stars have gone a long way towards legitimizing this type of store as a great place to buy and sell. The big differences between jewelry pawn shops and ordinary retail stores is that the prices may not always be the same as what the sticker tells you – and the first offer is rarely going to be the last. Here are a few bargaining secrets that Rick, Chumlee, and the rest of the Pawn Stars gang can teach you about selling at pawn shops.

Know The Current Sale Value

It takes only a few minutes to do some research on an item that you plan to sell before you take it to the pawn shop. Those few minutes can be the difference between a big payday and a pittance. If you have a good general idea of what similar items are currently selling for, you have a good starting point for bargaining.

One important note: Rick often reminds customers that asking prices online do not equal actual values. Just because someone on ebay is asking a million dollars for a $10 item doesn't make it worth a million. Check the "Sold" listings on auction sites to find out how much the item really sold for recently. The pawn shop has to make a profit, so you won't get that full amount. However, it is reasonable to shoot for something close to that.

Don't Make It Personal

On Pawn Stars, you'll frequently see sellers who just won't let go of their personal ideas of what an item is worth – sometimes even in the face of expert analysis! If you know that your item is worth a certain amount, accept that value instead of trying to justify an unreasonable higher value.

Don't attach an inflated value to it just because you personally think it will rise in value, or because the real value just doesn't seem like enough money. On Pawn Stars, you'll often see Chumlee reminding customers that he can only consider actual current retain value – no sentimental value. The Pawn Stars also frequently tell customers that they won't buy based on speculation.

Sure, those treasured collectibles from your childhood will likely go up in value in the future, but pawn shops generally deal only in actual value today. Try to look at the item like the Pawn Stars would: With detachment, and with an eye on its true retail value. This will help you bargain with a clear head and help you avoid negotiation failure.

Keep it Real

This point piggybacks off the rule of not making it personal. You need to stay realistic with value, and you also need to stay realistic with negotiations. Reasonable counteroffers are far more likely to meet with success. The original offer that the pawn shop makes is probably not their best offer, but it's usually unrealistic to ask for 100 times the offer. Rick Sr. (the "Old Man" on Pawn Stars) sometimes starts with an offer that is only about half of what he's really willing to pay. He then lets the customer make reasonable counters until they reach an agreed price.

Naturally, every situation is different, but counteroffers should generally be made in small increments. Better yet, you might  want to simply ask, "Can you do any better than that? The offer seems very low." The gang at Pawn Stars tends to respond far better when they get a respectful request like that than when they get a customer with a completely outrageous counteroffer.

Use the tips above to bargain like a pro. Tell them the Pawn Stars taught you everything you know and watch the great offers appear!