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Pawnshop business surges as customers seek to make ends meet

CHICAGO (NewsNation) — It’s Monday morning in Dallas. P&J Pawn Shop has just opened its doors and already customers are flooding in.

Patrick Wade has worked here for 34 years and now owns the place. Lending a hand has always been part of pawning, but over the past few months Wade has seen the industry go 180.

In the past, for example, pawning was a luxury for many of its customers. “They just do it for fun and then go play, or go on vacation, or do something special for their loved one. And that’s where I love it the most,” he told NewNation’s “Rush Hour.”

But with inflation at its highest level in 40 years, most are now here to make ends meet.

Patrece Ward has been loyal to P&J for 20 years and was bringing a TV she was hoping to make a quick buck on when she spoke to “Rush Hour.”

“Maybe around $160 to $170,” she said of what she expected in return. “I’m just hoping to cover the gas I need for my vehicle, maybe food or whatever I need until my payday.”

Times are tough for Ward and his four children. While pawning was a way for her to improve her personal items, she now feeds her family.

And she is not alone.

Jeremy Bonsu told “Rush Hour” that he just sold his gaming system for $50. “It’ll probably go straight to my [gas] tank, let’s be honest,” he said with a laugh. “Times are not easy, not as easy as they have been. But yes, some extra money will definitely help…and I have a lot of other things. The first thing that came to mind was, ‘Well, I have an Xbox’,” he said.

And for AJ Johnson, it was a watch he found hard to part with. “The amount of money I had to work with was so sufficient probably two years ago, but since then things have turned around,” Johnson said.

According to National Association of Pawnbrokerstionot30 million Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and 20% don’t have a bank account at all.

“Well, if you don’t have cash and you don’t have a credit card, guess what? I’m the next best offer,” Wade said.

In the world of pawning, you have three options: Enter as a customer looking to shop; sell an item for money; or pawn it, which means you trade in your item for a loan, the store keeps it, and you hope to buy it back in time.

“Sales are down this year compared to last year. In fact, in June, I predict we’ll be down about 30% from last year. But the loans are much higher,” Wade said.

Not only are they higher, but they’re also nearly double, and the merchandise Wade sees coming through its doors is far greater than he’s seen in the past — from diamond heirlooms to designer handbags. creators.

“We didn’t used to have that. Five years ago we weren’t taking handbags like this,” Wade said of a designer handbag.

For Wade, the pawnshop also keeps its lights on, but he looks forward to the day when business starts to turn.

“We will relive the good times when people buy just for fun!” he said.