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Pawn shops seeing opposite of normal during economic hardship


People have been buying back their pawned goods and spending a little extra

CALGARY (CityNews) – During economic crises, many have turned to pawn shops in desperate times, selling belongings to pay their bills.

But in the COVID-19 pandemic, one pawn shop owner says that just isn’t the case.

“Definitely less volume. Like there’s not as many people coming in to pawn,”

Shaheed Rana is one of the owners of the family business in southeast Calgary that has been around for 28 years.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, people would be pawning off their gaming consoles, jewellery, anything to fill the gap between pay cheques.

But since the outbreak and with the imposed isolation measures, people have been buying back their pawned goods and spending a little extra.

“Because there’s more money circulating people are more likely to pick up their item then bring in an item.”

That money circulating, is the Canada Emergency Response Benefit. The federal money that gives Canadians, who are out of work because of COVID-19, up to $500 a week for up to 16 weeks.

“If you have a household of four or five, you might be pulling in $8,000 to $10,000 a month.”

According to Rana, it means people aren’t necessarily out looking for loans.

Instead, they’re looking to buy things like laptops, guitars and especially bikes.

“They’ve been backlogging for years. But this year its been everybody’s been wanting to buy bikes because I think they’re stuck at home.”

But he’s not too worried about the future of the pawn shop industry. Rana says pawn shops will continue to service a need for people.

“Say they’re unemployed. A pay-day lender may not lend them money the banks certainly not going to lend them money, but they can bring something they’re not using right now and at least get enough to pay that bill.”

Like many other small businesses, they’ve found a new normal, clearing their warehouse and taking their inventory online.