Pawn shop know-how

NEW YORK The kind of clientele visiting pawn shops is changing too, since so many people in all different economic classes are hurting for cash.

Robin Russo and Linda Tillman have been in the pawn business for more than a decade, but these days, the customers coming to 48th Street Pawn Brokers are a little different.

"Now you're getting a higher class of customer who brings in pieces that are very expensive," Russo said.

Things like a diamond encrusted Yankees cap, valued at about $13,000. They are pricey pieces that serve as collateral for quick and easy loans.

"We provide quick money for someone who doesn't want to go to a friend or a bank," Tillman said. "They can borrow in a few minutes, using their jewelry as collateral."

The loan usually lasts four months, and the interest rate is 4 percent. About 90 percent of people buy back the items they hocked.

In Queens, at 5 Borough Pawn, it's jewelry, cameras, musical instruments and even golf clubs that are coming in.

Brian Cabrera says even people with jobs are coming in.

"They're scaling back as far as overtime," he said.

About 70 to 80 percent of his customers redeem their items, but many are asking for extensions.

So, if you're thinking of hocking something, here are some tips.

The loan value is usually 80 percent of the retail value for jewelry and 25 percent for electronics. Remember, don't take a loan you can't afford to pay back, because you will lose your item or items.

On the flip side, if you want to buy from a pawn shop, you can find some good deals, particularly with electronics. And by the way, New York's 4 percent interest rate is the lowest in the country.

48th Street Pawn Brokers is located at 32 West 48th Street in Manhattan. 5 Borough Pawn is located at 93-45 104th Street in Ozone Park, Queens.

WEB PRODUCED BY: Bill King

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