Pawn shops are amazing for a variety of reasons. They’re great for people who fall on hard times and want to avoid taking out loans, or for people who want to find something at a great price.
Of course, we can imagine that pawn shop owners have stories to tell. After all, not everyone wants to pawn quality items.
Thanks to a Reddit thread, pawn shop owners shared times when customers tried to pawn off some really useless junk. Boy, are some of these hilarious! Here are 20 stories that stood out.
20. She Could Tell Her Jewelry Was Fake!
“Having worked at a pawn shop before, I can say there are plenty of amazing stories of customers and their antics. Usually the best stories revolve around jewelry.
This one woman came in with a big gold-colored ring and wanted to get a few hundred dollars for it. Picking it up and looking at it I could tell it was super fake, and I tried to explain that to her.
She wouldn’t buy it because “the street vendor told me it was solid 14kt.” I went and picked up our huge earth magnet and put it near the ring, and it shot right to it. I explained that solid gold is not magnetic.
She was stunned, and couldn’t believe that she had spent like $200 for it.”
19. People Really Don’t Know Their Jewels
“I was a gold buyer when gold was close to $2000 ounce.
This couple was selling some jewelry and coins and the wife goes, “What do you think my ring would be worth? Just curious.” I immediately look at her husband. He turns around and goes outside.
I tell the wife, “Look, even if you wanted to sell it, I couldn’t give you close to what you would want for it.” She insists I test it out and give her a price.
I reluctantly pull the magnet out and sure enough, the ring sticks right to it.
She looks at me in disbelief, “The diamond is fake too I suppose.” I tell her, “It would be more expensive to set a real diamond this size into a this setting than what this setting is worth…”
She takes the ring back, calmly. We finish the transaction, I give her her cash, and she leaves. In front of the big windows she points at her husband, waves her arms around, the riffles the ring at him and gets in the car.
He looks in the store, sees me, gives me the finger, gets in the car, and drives off.”
18. People Still Try to Pawn Beanie Babies
“I own a similar store. People still think their beanie babies have value.
People also tend to think what items sell for online are what they will sell for at the same price and speed locally.”
17. Well, That Was Awkward
“Large sweaty man walks in with a belt sander, set it down on the counter in front of me and plugged right in. Made direct eye contact and switched it on.
The sander immediately made a loud popping sound and smoke begin to rise.
Unplugged it, turned around and walked out without a single word between us.”
16. Some People Are Just Thieves, Man
“I used to work in a surf shop. We used to throw the shitty boards, ones we couldn’t sell, were broken or were projects for later in the backyard of the shop.
One night someone stole some of the boards-unbeknownst to us-and then he came round and tried to sell them to us.
Yes, he tried to sell as the boards he stolen from us.
My boss just laughed and said “these are so terrible we will just throw them in the backyard”. So now he had stolen boards that no one wanted and had to dispose of.”
15. Seriously, Thieves Need Better Strategies
“I used to sell cell phones and the gf of my coworker at a different store had her phone stolen while she was working. Within 2-3 hours of the phone being stolen the thief came into our store and said he had forgotten the passcode to unlock it and was looking for help. My coworker immediately recognized the phone and we tried to keep the thief there while he called the police.
About 15 minutes into this the thief said he had to go and my coworker said, “Leave my gf’s phone.” The thief started to protest but as he did my coworker unlocked the phone and showed the thief the background. It was a picture of my coworker and his gf. The thief nodded and walked away.”
14. This One Kinda Worked Out
“We had a student stay with us for three months and he bought a new board so he could learn to surf while he was here.
Time to go home and he hadn’t hsd any luck selling it to any of the other students so he took it to a pawn shop.
The owner offered him $50, he explained it was three months old and didn’t have a mark on it and he had paid $600 for it, but the owner wouldn’t budge on the price.
Another customer in the shop overhead all this and asked to see the board, offers him $200 which our student accepted. So they are doing the deal and the owner goes gtf out of my shop. Completed the transaction on the path outside.”
13. This Pawn Shop Bought an Incubator
“I use to have to go the pawnbrokers quite frequently when i was younger and got to know some of the dealers.
They often showed me some of the stuff people brought in, a large collection of porn tapes, sex toys and an incubator that had been loaned out by a hospital, no idea why the dealers accepted that one.”
12. Meanwhile, This Shop Played a Prank!
“Hey! I was the dummy on this one. I looked into a pawn shop store and there was a sign saying “Why are 1968 pennies worth almost $20.00?”
I look through my penny collection and found a 1968 penny.
I walked into the shop and showed him my penny.
Then he began smiling and smiling and snickering and giggling…..
And, all of a sudden, I realized I did not have one thousand nine hundred sixty eight pennies. I had one penny.
That guy was a real smartass.
I do not frequent pawn shops anymore.”
11. Well, He Walked Out With $5
“Not the owner but I worked in a small pawn shop for about three years and my personal favorite was a greasy guy came in and dumped out a garbage bag of broken computer fans and a few assorted computer parts.
We laughed for a few minutes and realized this guy was serious. My boss asked him how much he wanted for it all and the guy said he didn’t know how much it would be worth but he heard there was gold in computer parts.
We had to break it to this guy that the plastic computer fans had no gold in them and we can check out the other parts.
My boss gave him $5 for his trouble.”
10. What Are Wheat Pennies?
“My dad runs one.
One guy brought in a huge bag of wheat pennies expecting to walk out with a big pay day but really they aren’t worth all that much.
I think he offered the guy like $20 and he stormed off mad.”
9. A Hodgepodge of Stories Here…
“Oh man, my great uncle owns a pawn shop and some of the shit there is hilarious or heartbreaking.
- People trying to sell free old TVs they got on craigslist for hundreds of dollars because now they are “vintage.”
- Obviously rented instruments for their kid’s band class that have tags on them from the rental place.
- And oh geeze, do people get pissed about engagement rings. He literally has a bag of engagement rings, they so easy to come by. Women tend to be sad when they find out they get almost nothing or are fake. Men tend to get aggressive, enough that he has my cousin up front watch out extra-careful when he tells a dude he can’t pay really much of anything for what the dude thought was an “investment” ring.
- The excuses people make when obviously stolen stuff are just horrible, especially if he asks them if they can prove they are the owner of the item.
On the other hand, if someone is in trying to sell their wedding ring, especially if it’s a lady with kids, he’s been known to just give them $50 and send them on their way. My cousin who works with him has a stack of brochures for drug and alcohol treatment resources and stuff like that that she regularly gives out.”
8. Well, That Was Rude
“Not a pawn shop, but I used to work at a mobile electronics store (alarms, cruise controls, stereos, etc). Had a guy come in with a box full of outdated high end stereo equipment (head unit, EQ, preamp, 3 amplifiers, & some nice crossovers); I told him that most of it was worthless to me, but offered him $40 cash or $65 store credit. He flipped out & began a rant about how all this stuff cost over $2,000 when he bought it (yeah, 16 years ago!). I calmly explained that he may be able to get more for it on eBay or something, but I have to make a profit so I cannot offer much; I also explained I wouldn’t have offered anything if I wasn’t personally interested in the crossovers. He slammed everything back into the box & stomped out while calling us every name in the book.
As he was walking out the door he looked back over his shoulder, yelled something & flipped us off….this is where he messed up….since he wasn’t looking where he was stepping, he tripped over the curb & spilled the entire box of gear into a huge puddle (a very deep pothole full of rain).
It was hard not to stick my head out the door & Bellow out a loud ‘hah!'”
7. A Literal Wreck Occurred
“I was a Pawn Broker for a while. So many junkies trying to sell fake jewelry. But this one lady really stood out.
She came in with a chain & pendant in a cute little box. First thing we do is look for marking, while I was doing that she started getting fiesty, yelling at me saying “why are you doing that? Don’t you see it says made in Italy!? Hey stop are you blind!?” At this point I’m like “okay lady, we can’t take this. It’s not real gold” and she just flips out saying it doesn’t matter it’s from Italy and this and that. Called me stupid and flipped the finger at all the staff.
All we did is laugh, but as she reved off she hit a BMW and the owner saw her.
We turned over the security taping to the cops, fuck that lady lol.”
6. Never Try to Sell Rented Stuff!!!
“I worked at a pawn shop. One time, a guy came in with a DVD/VCR combo, brand new in the box. We (the pawn shop employees) would always engage the customer in conversation while looking at the item, partly to feel out the customer and see if they had inconsistencies in their story that may indicate stolen goods. So I started the conversation,
“Wow. This is a nice unit. Where’d you get this?”
“Best Buy. Just bought it a couple days ago.”
“Oh! Nice. But you want to sell it to us? Why not just return it to Best Buy?”
“Oh yeah, ummm I can’t find the receipt. But I bought it right down the street at the Best Buy like 2 blocks from here.”
While we talk, I’m pulling the unit out of the box and checking the cables and remote, looking on the bottom for a serial number. As I flipped the bottom of the unit toward me, I see that it has a giant sticker on it that says “PROPERTY OF RENT-A-CENTER. DO NOT BUY OR SELL.”
I didn’t say a word to him. My boss was watching over my shoulder. As soon as the boss saw the sticker, he pulled out a Polaroid camera, snapped the guy’s picture, cussed him out, and practically threw the DVD/VCR at the guy.
I sent a fax to the other pawn shops in town to give them a heads up.”
5. Remember: Silver Has Little Resale Value
“Currently work at a pawn shop. People think silver is worth a lot more than it is, I get people thinking they’ll get $400 for a chain that’s worth maybe $30.
Other than that collectibles/memorabilia disappoints most people.”
4. Selling Stolen Gear=Arrest
“I worked at Sam Ash for a long while. You can sell instruments there, not exactly a pawn shop but the same concept.
Guy walks in with two VERY NICE obviously handmade boutique basses. One is left handed, one is right handed. Obviously a red flag that a novice wouldn’t even think about.
“Hey I want to sell my basses?”
“Ok. Any particular reason?”
“I don’t play them anymore”
“I see…Just couldn’t decide if you were left or right handed?”
He wants $700 for both. Looking at them I figured they were $3-4k each. Problem was they didn’t have a name, just a logo. Lots of googling later and we have a brand. Call the builder up and his warehouse was robbed weeks before. Police are called, guy arrested, and as fast as I know builder gets his basses back. I got a “I’d like to come down some time and buy you lunch as a thank you for your work” from the builder.
Still waiting on that lunch.”
3. LOTR Stuff Isn’t Worth *That* Much
“I worked in a pawnshop for three years in NC. I had a couple of stoned/drunk guys come in on a Saturday just as I was trying to close. One staggered up to the counter and pulled a box out of a plastic grocery bag.
“You ain’t gonna believe this, man. I have a collectors item worth one thousand dollars.”
He was correct, at least about the first part.
He proceeded to sit a “Gladriel” doll from the lord of the rings movie on the counter.
As usual, I pulled up Ebay to find many for sale in the $10-20 range. I turned the screen to show him and he flew into a rage.
He jerked out his flip phone and dialed someone and proceeded to spit/scream into the phone “Where did you see this fucking doll for a thousand dollars? Then turns and spits/scrams at me ” Go to Google goddamit! Go to google!”
I wasn’t even mad.”
2. Don’t Mess With Target
“Worked at Gamestop near a target. Target employee calls and tells me a list of games that were just stolen from the store. Lo and behold not two minutes later a couple walks in to sell us games… the funny part, they were still shrink wrapped with the target price tag and the locked plastic outer device.
I noticed a police car drive to the front of the target so I sent my coworker over to grab the cop and I expertly kept the attention of the two idiots. Engaged them in a bunch of small talk and as the cop was about to walk in I said, “looks like someone is here to see you” their faces were priceless.”
1. And Finally, A Happy One
“I would like to share the opposite: girls thought they had worthless cards ended up being very worthwhile.
I worked in a comic book shop that also sold trading cards. In this case, Magic: the Gathering. Two young girls came in, maybe 14/15 years old with a small box of cards. They said they found it on their uncle’s closet that passed away, figured it was worthless, and just wanted to see the worth.
I thought the same, and opened up the box of cards to take a quick glance and was a little alarmedI at what I saw – Alpha and Beta cards, a couple of Power 9 cards, and this was just the first 10 cards in. I stopped, said, “I’m really sorry, I’m not familiar with these older cards,” I lied, I just wasn’t authorized to try to buy something of this magnitude, “I’ll need to call the store owner.”
I called him, and at first he was annoyed because the other store he was visiting had a Ford plow through the front window. He just said to not bother with a trade-in, until I causally mentioned some of the cards there in the stack. He said, “Don’t let those cards leave the building. I’m on my way,” and hung up.
The girls couldn’t wait, and I asked if they wouldn’t mind leaving the cards with me, along with their names and phone numbers, and we could get back to them. When the owner came in, he went to the back, got some gloves, and went through all the cards.
I stayed after my shift because I just wanted to see it unfold. The owner gained like 10000 respect points from me when the girls and an older woman, presumably somebody’s mother, came back in, as he was straight with them. He said, “What you have here is all very worthwhile. There isn’t a card in this box that would sell for less than about $5. But these cards here,” he fanned out some cards that I couldn’t see, “are the most valuable in the box. And this one,” be pulled a card away, “would sell for the price of these, and the entire box, at least twice as much. I do not have enough money available to make you a fair offer. What you have here is easily worth about $20,000 to a collector.”
The girls’ mouths dropped open. The owner offered them everything he had available in the shop – about $6,000. They accepted.”
Pawn shop owners put up with a lot of strange things to keep their businesses open. We’re glad they and several employees shared these fun stories.
Do you own or work in a pawn shop? If you have an experience you’d like to share in the comments.