Pawn shops, at best, seem like places for the down and out (the Louis Winthorpes of the world, if you will); at worst, we associate them with drug habits and the need for firearms with filed-off serial numbers. Thanks to internet pawn shop Pawngo, we might have to imagine a new sort of clientele, unless the website is behind a bulletproof window. Through the site, you submit a description and photo of something you want to pawn, get an appraisal, send your item with free Fed Ex shipping, and then receive money (aka the loan), all in less than two days. Could this be a new viable option for Brokesters looking to make rent, or at least take a loan on their valuables to get them through the lean times? If nothing else, never before has the phrase “from the comfort of your own home” been more appropriate … unless your home is on Staten Island (shudder).
The service has received a few write ups from places like The New York Times, which included less Pulp Fiction-y customer testimonials, including a woman who pawned her engagement ring to finance the start-up of a nonprofit group to promote children’s Internet safety.
You have 30 days to make a payment on your loan, and you’ll get charged a 3 to 6 percent interest rate. If you don’t pay back your loan, your item becomes property of Pawngo, which then sells it in its Vault store. And hey, if you need to buy a cheap diamond, you should probably browse around the Vault a bit.
With virtual curio shops like Etsy, the auction houses of Ebay, and the movie theaters of Netflix, why shouldn’t the web-savvy have a taste of the darker element of commerce? Especially if it means you don’t have to live out the creeps of walking past Glocks and butterfly knives to try to get an estimate on your Rochefoucauld.
What do you think? Is this a clever new option when you’re plotting your financial comeback from the free wi-fi at Starbucks, or is it just another sign of our woeful financial times? And is an internet pawn shop providing a needed service, or profiting off of the hard luck of those who aren’t quite up to the real pawn experience?