Pawn Shops Get a Boost from Poor Economy

In this tough economy, many ordinary folks are using a tool to make ends meet. They're not going to a bank to get a loan, but selling what they already have.

Tiffany Scurlock is in Sid's Pawn Shop in Tyler selling a clock radio: "Pawn shops are very convenient and they help me out a lot sometimes." It is one of the winners in a bad economy. The pawn shop is doing a lot of business these days.

"Our business is up. Loans are good. But people are looking for bargains," says Cathy Garton. She's seen the past 20 years, as she and her husband Sid run their Fifth Street shop in Tyler. In bad times, what people think is a necessity, often becomes a luxury.

She says, "We are seeing higher ticket items coming in-- Rolexes and really valuable jewelry."

Candy's looking for the right holiday gift. She's found it here before-- a ring for her father.

"Two years ago for Christmas and my father's still wearing it," she says.

Tiffany says pawn shops are "the first place I think about. It's convenient, [and] when you need something just in case, it's right there."

Cathy says the pawn business has a bad rap. Laws now require that the police know of every item pawned, and everyone who works in a shop get licensed. She compares it to a bank loan but on a very small scale.

Cathy says, "Some people just need 10 dollars to buy gas to get to work to make it until pay day."

Some people come back to pick up their things. But it's a measure of the economy, that most of Cathy's shelves are quite full.