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What Do Pawn Shops Buy? 10 High-Demand Items

Last updated 01/19/2023 by

Lacey Stark

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In general, pawn shops will buy almost anything of value. That said, how much you can get depends on the quality of the item, its popularity, and the demand for it in that market. There are also certain items that some pawn shops buy or give loans for. Some common items that most pawn shops will accept include jewelry, precious metals, watches, electronics, musical instruments, power tools, and sports equipment.
Whether you have an emergency or just need some money, it can be difficult to figure out where to get your hands on some quick cash. A personal loan is one option, but it can sometimes be difficult to qualify for and may require a few days to get the money. But if you have some items to sell, you may want to see whether you could fund an emergency by selling to a pawn shop.
Today we’ll take a look at some of the more in-demand items that pawn shops will accept, how pawn loans work, and some of the advantages and disadvantages of taking out a pawn loan. First, let’s take a quick look at what pawn shops do.

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How pawn shops work

If you need cash, you can take an item into a pawn shop and either sell it outright or hand it over to the pawn shop in exchange for a short-term collateral loan. The amount of cash you can get is based on a percentage of the item’s value.
If you pay off your loan within the agreed-upon timeframe (plus interest), you get your item back. If you don’t pay your loan off, the pawn shop is free to resell your item. However, most shops will allow you to extend the loan for additional fees.

Pro Tip

You can also get great deals at pawn shops if you’re there to buy. After all, many of those items are being sold because the pawned item was never picked up. In the market for a flat-screen TV, an iPad, or some power tools? You can get a lot of that merchandise at a pawn shop for a fraction of what you would pay at a retail store.

What do pawn shops buy?

As mentioned, a pawn shop will typically buy almost anything of value, but how much you’ll get for that item depends on a few things. The pawnbroker will offer a price for the item depending on the quality of the item, what’s in demand in that market, and the current inventory the pawnshop owner has on hand.
For example, if the pawn shop has 20 laptops for sale, you won’t get as good of a price as you would if the shop had only two left in stock. Here are some of the most popular items bought and sold at pawn shops.

1. Electronics

Electronics is one of the most popular categories to buy and sell at pawn shops. Items in this category include digital cameras, video game consoles, computers and laptops, tablets, and televisions. The items usually need to be fairly recent models and in good working condition.
Cell phones fall into this category as well, but they can be tricky. For example, pawn shops typically won’t accept older phones or ones they suspect are stolen. However, if you have a brand-new iPhone in its original packaging and can produce a receipt proving you paid for it, you may be able to pawn it for some fast cash.

2. Jewelry

Pawn shops usually have a wide selection of jewelry items. The pieces are small, often worth a lot of money, and usually have pretty good resale value. Just be sure it’s fine jewelry like gold or silver jewelry and real gemstones — imitation metals or stones won’t be accepted.
Many pawn shops have someone on hand to inspect and evaluate the jewelry, but if you’re not sure about a piece, you might want to visit a jewelry store beforehand. For example, if you inherited a “diamond ring” and aren’t sure if it’s really a diamond, a jewelry store will be able to tell.
IMPORTANT! It may come as a surprise, but pawn shops pay for broken jewelry as well. Most jewelry is fairly easy to repair — plus loose stones can be set into other pieces and precious metals can be melted down. So if you have some broken gold jewelry, it’s worth taking it into your local pawn shop to see if you can get some quick cash for pieces you don’t even use.

3. Precious metals

Aside from jewelry, other precious metals can be sold at pawn shops too. Items here might include metal bars, coins, sterling silver flatware, candlesticks, or tea sets. Most pawn shops will also accept gold, silver, or platinum items, depending on their current stock.

4. Luxury watches

Like jewelry, most pawn shops usually accept watches too, but it must be a luxury brand like a Rolex, Tag Heuer, or Breitling, for instance. Don’t expect to get any money for a Timex or your old Swatch, but your grandmother’s antique Cartier watch or other fine watches will be acceptable at most pawn shops.

5. Musical instruments

It may surprise some people to know how valuable musical instruments can be to a pawn shop. So if you have a drum set, guitar, violin, or flute lying around, you can most likely get good prices for them. They don’t need to be new to qualify for higher prices, but they do need to be in good condition. And they’re generally considered acceptable collateral for loans.
IMPORTANT! Be aware that you’ll usually get a higher payout if you sell rather than pawn the piece. This means if you don’t plan on using the instrument again, you’ll get a better deal by just selling it outright.

6. Power tools

If you have power tools in good working order, those are a common choice for sale or collateral. Popular brands accepted include Dewalt, Bosch, and Milwaukee.

7. Sports equipment

Sporting goods are another popular category to be bought, sold, or pawned, and include items such as golf clubs, bicycles, or camping gear. You may not get the best price for these items (unless they’re in like-new condition). That said, you can probably use them as collateral for a short-term loan because they’re often goods that people would like to get back.

8. Antiques and collectibles

Antiques or collectibles is another tricky area and one that not all pawn shops deal in. For one, if you can’t prove the authenticity of a painting, for instance, it can be difficult to come up with a reasonable price. It may also be difficult for the pawnbroker to resell the item.
However, some collectible items, like collectible coins, may have a good resale value, making them useful for pawn shops.
Related reading: To learn more about other collectible items, take a look at our articles on expensive Pokémon cards and LEGO sets.

9. Designer items

Some pawn shops may accept designer goods like sunglasses and handbags, but typically only if there is a market for these items in their area. If you do try to sell them, they’ll need to be of excellent quality and in like-new condition.
If a pawn store doesn’t accept them, you might try a consignment shop or a store that buys and sells second-hand designer clothing and accessories.

10. Guns

Not all pawn shops accept guns, but if they do, you can sell them or use them as collateral for pawn loans. Be aware that pawnbrokers who do accept guns must follow federal, state, and local gun laws. This means the weapon must be registered to you if it’s to be eligible for sale or pawn. A pawn shop will not accept stolen items.

Pro Tip

While pawn shops will accept a variety of items, these locations shouldn’t be your first choice if you need a large amount of money. In that case, it would be best to apply for a personal loan. To get a better idea of what interest rates and loan terms you may qualify for, take a look at some of the personal loan lenders below.

Advantages and disadvantages of a pawn shop loan

Though a pawn shop can be a great place to get some quick cash, make sure you consider all of the pros and cons before pawning your valuables.
Here is a list of the benefits and drawbacks to consider.
  • No credit check. Pawnshop owners don’t care whether you have no credit or bad credit. As long as you have a valuable item to pawn, you can get a deal on a valuable or short-term loan.
  • No credit reporting. Similarly, if you fail to pay back your loan, pawn shops don’t report to credit agencies, so you won’t suffer a hit to your credit scores.
  • High interest rates. The pawn business is somewhat similar to payday loans in that they charge high interest rates — you could pay as much as 25% interest per month.
  • Extra fees. In addition to interest rates, pawn shops may charge additional fees for storage, insurance, or renewal fees if you need to extend your loan term.
  • Smaller loans. Pawn shops typically will only lend customers between 25% and 60% of the item’s potential resale value, which can also be fairly subjective. Pawn shop loans aren’t usually the way to go if you need a large sum of cash.

Pro Tip

If you’re thinking of selling something to a pawn shop or using it as collateral, be sure to present it in the best possible way. Wrap electronics in their original packaging, polish your silver to a high shine, and make sure your tools are cleaned, oiled, and ready to be used. A good presentation shows you take care of your things and could help you get the most money for your valuables.


What’s the most a pawn shop will loan?

According to the National Pawnbrokers Association, the average loan amount is $150. That said, you can borrow as little as ten dollars or as much as $10,000 or more, depending on what you have to pawn and what pawn brokers in your area can handle.
Keep in mind that you’ll never be able to borrow what an item is actually worth because the pawn shop will need to make a profit if you fail to repay them. For instance, if you have a watch that you bought for $2,000, you may only be able to get a few hundred dollars. However, if you need more money, you can always pawn multiple items.

Is it worth selling stuff at a pawn shop?

If you need money quickly and don’t have any other means to get cash right away, it’s not the worst idea to sell something to a pawn shop. Do you have anything of value that you no longer need or want? If so, selling it to a pawn shop can help you declutter your home and score some extra cash.
On the other hand, if you need extra money quickly and you have a decent credit score, an online personal loan might be a better option for you. Many online lenders offer quick decisions and next-day funding, though you’ll have to undergo a credit check.

Key Takeaways

  • Customers can go to pawn shops to buy or sell items of value or pawn an item in exchange for a short-term loan.
  • Some of the most popular items bought and sold at pawn stores are jewelry, electronics, tools, and musical instruments.
  • If you want to sell or pawn personal items, they must generally be of decent quality and in good working order. Bringing popular brands can further help you get a good deal.
  • If you get a pawn loan, they keep your item as collateral until you’ve paid back the money with interest by the loan deadline. If you fail to pay it back, they’ll put your collateral up for sale.

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