Make us your home page

In this tough economy, pawn shops are trying to balance cash flows

Is it true that businesses dealing in quick cash are prospering in the down economy?

We visited several businesses in Largo and posed that question. Included in our research were three pawn shops, an Internet consignment business and an upscale coin dealer. Although the answers varied, there was one constant: If you've got money, there are businesses that have a deal for you.

At Southern Pawn and Jewelry, 950 Missouri Ave., five customers perused the aisles looking at items for sale.

In a corner, keyboards and dozens of guitars were on display. In a nearby aisle, construction equipment, including air compressors, nail guns and paint sprayers filled several shelves. In the center of the store, more than 20 engagement rings glistened like broken glass from the display case.

A custom-made racing bike for a handicapped person sat next to the cash register.

"We've got 10 stores, so with our high volume and number of visitors, things are good,'' said Brian McKeague, store manager. "Where we see signs that it's tough out there is with some of our customers.

"There are customers who we've known for awhile that are having some trouble finishing loan payments.''

When asked what area of the store is busiest, McKeague pointed to the construction items.

"We're taking in a lot of tools right now. People are not building. The workers are bringing in their equipment," he said.

Greg Hawley, owner of Super Cash of Largo, 7169 Ulmerton Road, also mentioned construction. However, his construction concerns were of a different nature.

"Right now because of the road construction being done on Ulmerton, the outside of my store looks like a battlefield,'' said Hawley, who also designs and sells guitars for income.

"I think pawn shops succeeding during tough times in the economy is a misconception," he said. "If people don't have money, they can't buy as much. I need to have buyers as well as sellers. I'm taking it month to month here right now.''

Tom Koenig, owner of We Sell It For You, 13721 Walsingham Road, also acknowledges his business is handling tough times. As opposed to pawn shops, the bulk of Koenig's business is consignment.

"I work with people and sell merchandise on the Internet,'' he said. "I started this business not wanting to bring in a lot of my own cash. People are not buying extras right now.''

Koenig also stressed that his business plan allows him to move on unusual offerings that may come up. Last week, he bought some historical Playboy memorabilia. It included an early edition with Janet Pilgrim, who was Playboy founder Hugh Hefner's secretary and a centerfold three times in the 1950s, and two letters, one signed by Pilgrim and one by Hefner.

Why did he lay out his cash?

"It's a rare, niche piece, and I know that the value will only go up,'' he said. "It doesn't come along very often.''

In this tough economy, pawn shops are trying to balance cash flows 09/27/08 [Last modified: Sunday, September 28, 2008 1:40pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Tampa is 15th-most popular city to move to with U-Haul


    TAMPA —Tampa is undoubtedly a destination point, at least according to U-Haul.

    Tampa is the No. 15 destination for people moving with U-Haul trucks. | Times file photo
  2. Florida's economy growing faster than other big states and far better than U.S. overall


    When it comes to economic growth, Florida's running alongside the leading states and well ahead of the United States as a whole.

  3. Westshore Marina District project takes shape with another acquisition

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — One of Tampa Bay's prime waterfront areas took another major step toward redevelopment Friday as WCI Communities bought 2.35 acres in Westshore Marina District.

    WCI Communities, Lennar's high-end subsidiary,has paid $2.5 million for 2.35 acres in the Westshore Marina District for 35 townhomes. WCI is under contract  to buy an additional 9.5 acres.
[BTI Partners]
  4. Posh Guy Harvey RV park to open in Tampa Bay with $250,000 cottages


    HOLIDAY — Love those Guy Harvey T-shirts with the soaring marlins? In the not too distant future, you might be able to kick back in your own Guy Harvey cottage in the first-ever Guy Harvey RV park.

    Renderings of the clubhouse and an RV cottage site of the planned Guy Harvey Outpost Club & Resort Tarpon Springs.
[Guy Harvey Outpost Collection]
  5. Port Tampa Bay secures $9 million grant to deepen Big Bend Channel


    Port Tampa Bay has secured a $9 million grant from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the widening and deepening of the Big Bend Channel in southern Hillsborough County.