To the best of my recollection, I've never actually been inside a pawn shop. I'm 100 percent certain that I have never bought or sold anything in one. The extent of my pawn shop knowledge comes entirely from what I've seen in television shows and movies.
Having said that, I do feel as though I have a good grasp of how they work, because I've watched this exact sequence of events go down hundreds of times:
1. Guy with major issues walks into pawn shop with a fancy watch and plunks it down on the counter (quick sidebar--it's impressive how messed-up broke guys with no wallets always manage to have really expensive watches on hand).
2. Pawn shop owner scrutinizes it briefly with his little monocle/microscope thing and is able to ascertain the watch's exact value and everything it's made of in a matter of seconds (I'm always very impressed by this).
3. Pawn shop owner says "I'll give you 50 bucks for it."
4. Guy with major issues says "What?! It cost me $2,000!"
5. Pawn shop owner snarkily says "Maybe, but in here it's worth 50 bucks."
6. Scene cuts to guy with major issues angrily walking out the door holding his $50 (on occasion he leaves with a gun instead), even though he needs $10,000 to solve whatever is currently the most major of his issues.
So what I'm thinking is, if this is how every single pawn shop transaction goes, the owners must be doing pretty well for themselves.
EDITORS NOTE: I swear I did not have this clip from Trading Places in mind as I wrote this blog. I haven't seen the film in probably 20 years, but I came across it while searching for a picture to add afterwards. I guess that proves my point: