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Pawn Shops, Thrift Shops, and Consignment Stores

Updated on February 23, 2014

"One man's junk is another man's treasure." -idiomatic expression by unknown author.

Some people in the world want their possessions to be brand new. Others make it a hobby to find old items they can buy to bring home.

On the flip side, some people periodically have the urge to unload their used items for cash or a tax write-off.

In either case, there are three places where the people on both sides of the fence can go to accomplish their tasks: the pawn shop, the thrift shop, and the consignment store. Each of these three types of locations function similarly although they each have their own unique nuances which sets them apart.

Today, most towns, large and small have one of the three types of stores available for sellers and buyers. During tough economic times, it is these second-hand stores that tend to do a better business.


Pawn Shops

People who need cash go to pawn shops with items to use as short-term loan collateral. The pawnbroker would examine the item brought in and decide how much cash to loan the owner. The broker would also let the owner know how long the loan will last and what the interest would be for the duration. If the owner does not return to get the collateral item by a certain date, the pawnbroker has the option to sell the item. Some pawnbrokers sell items directly from their stores, others sell the items to second-hand stores.

The payoff to the person with the item is that the cash is immediate. There is no waiting period. Many people who bring collateral to a pawn shop are desperate for money and need it sooner than later.

Pawn stores that sell non-collected items are visited by buyers looking for a good deal. The used items are usually sold at good prices, bringing in a profit to the pawnbroker. Gambling towns, such as Las Vegas, NV and New Orleans, LA have many pawn shops around that stay rather busy all year for obvious reasons.

Thrift Shops

Second-hand stores, like thrift shops, are a great place to shop if you're looking for something used. Most thrift shops have clothing and household wares for sale. Thrift shops sell items that have been donated by people who usually live in the community. The people who bring items to thrift stores do not necessarily want any money in return, but rather a receipt to use for a tax write-off. Donations made to thrift stores are considered charitable.

People who don't mind wearing used clothing shop in thrift shops as prices are usually right. Used jeans, for instance, can be found for $5.00 or less sometimes. Depending on where the thrift shop is located, there could end up being a great deal of very high quality items for sale.


Consignment Stores

A third place people can bring items they want to sell to is a consignment store. These stores operate a little differently than the pawn and thrift shops. People who bring items for sale to consignment stores expect to walk away with cash at some point, but not right away. The item-owner basically leaves their item to be sold at the store. The store then tries to sell the item for the owner for a given time period. A preset percentage is kept by the store if the item sells, charging the owner rent, per se, for housing and selling the item. If the item sells, the store keeps the preset amount and pays the balance to the owner.

Buyers will visit consignment stores to purchase used items, which are usually worth some money. Furniture items and electronics are usually found in consignment shops. Like thrift shops, depending on where the consignment store is located, people might be able to find some high-end items or great deals.

Different Strokes for Different Folks

Although both item owners and buyers would visit pawn, thrift, or consignment stores for different reasons, one thing is for certain...all three types of shop-owners make the profits.

Depending on your situation or just out of curiosity, visit one of these stores in your neighborhood to see what's for sale these days.


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    • profile image

      Kody 2 years ago

      It is always nice to find good deals at places like this. At a young age my father started taking me to pawn shops. The last time I went to one was a while ago though so maybe it is time that I go check a local place out.

    • gypsumgirl profile image

      gypsumgirl 6 years ago from Vail Valley, Colorado

      Auntie M: True enough! It is definitely a win-win situation for all parties involved. Thanks for reading and commenting!

      gguy: Thanks for adding flea markets to the list. You are right in that there are a lot of collectibles to be bought and sold at these open markets. Good point about the area in which you live affecting the availability of second-hand stores...I can see how they might be harder to find or more scarce in the suburban areas.

    • gguy profile image

      gguy 6 years ago from new jersey usa

      Another good source to buy and sell are flea markets, the best ones ti buy and sell used items and collectables seem to be in urban centers or rural places. In the suburbs it seems to be harder to find unusual items.

    • Auntie M profile image

      Auntie M 6 years ago

      Recycling is a great way of sharing where everyone comes away with a little satisfaction