Saturday, June 15, 2024

Business is good at local pawn shops during the coronavirus. Here’s why

Pawn shops on the peninsula continue to thrive even during the coronavirus. (WYDaily/ Courtesy of Unsplash)
Pawn shops on the peninsula continue to thrive even during the coronavirus. (WYDaily/ Courtesy of Unsplash)

The coronavirus crisis has crippled many businesses, prompting layoffs, furloughs and for some, closures.

But not every business is suffering.

Tommy Staton, who owns Time Pawn & Gun in Hampton, hasn’t closed since the start of the pandemic.

“We have the biggest month we’ve ever had in sales ––by a big margin,” he said.

Staton has seen a big increase in pawn redemptions and firearm sales during the crisis.

Pawn redemption is selling an item to the shop for a certain amount of money but picking the item back up. For example, if someone wants to pawn a diamond ring and wants $100 for it, if the person were to pick the ring back up, they would have to pay him $113, Staton said.

“A lot of times, they will pay $113 and pick the ring up,” he said. “Now they are giving it back and getting the money.”

“It’s been a little weird,” he added. “I thought it would be opposite people running out of money.”

In terms of firearms sales, he said none of his wholesalers have anything in stock.

“We did more gun sales in March and April and the beginning of May than we did all of last year,” Staton said. “They’re buying everything.”

PlayStations, video game consoles and televisions are also flying off the shelves, something he attributes to the kids being out of school.

“You can’t keep a PlayStation in,” he said. “If I had 150 PlayStations you can sell them in a week.”

Other items in high demand are tools for people still working and lawn equipment, a common product featured during this time of year, he said.

He didn’t apply for a small business loan because he said he felt other places needed it more. The shop has been operating during normal business hours and all of his employees have been working since the pandemic started.

But to comply with social distancing guidelines, the shop has made a couple changes such as limiting occupancy to a total of 10 people at a time: Two staff members and eight customers.

“People are wearing masks and people are paying attention to the guidelines right now,” he said.

His goal is to replenish the shop’s stock and spread the word the shop is here for people who need money.

Typically the shop gives people who take out loans 30 days but has given an additional month for them to get their stuff, he said.

“People that have a hardship, we are being lenient with that,” Staton added.

At Yorktown Pawn, a similar trend is occurring.

Trent Boullianne, manager, said since the pandemic happened around the same time people were receiving their tax returns and stimulus checks, there haven’t been many people selling items. Instead, more people are redeeming and getting their pawns out, he said.

When the pandemic first occurred in March, Boullianne said most people were coming in to buy items instead of sell. Yorktown Pawn quickly sold out of electronic items such as laptops and gaming devices.

“Now that people are stuck at home, you need your gaming systems and laptops,” he said. “A majority of our calls are for televisions and gaming systems.”

Boullianne said he expects business to go back to normal eventually as people run out of stimulus and tax refund money.

“We will get people that have run out of the extra money or overspent,” he said. “People need short-term cash loans, which we provide, so it will all go back to the influx of revenue, which is good.”

In the meantime, Yorktown Pawn updated its operating procedures to protect customer and employee safety. Now there is only one customer allowed in the store at a time, employees wear masks or face guards and all of the store’s surfaces are sanitized after the customer leaves.

Boullianne said he expects the new procedures to continue even once the pandemic has calmed down because it protects the health of all those who enter the shop.

“Now you know that if anything like this comes again, we’ll have the steps in place to know what to do,” he said.


Julia Marsigliano
Julia Marsigliano
Julia Marsigliano is a multimedia reporter for WYDaily. She covers everything on the Peninsula from local government and law enforcement agencies to family-run businesses and weather updates. Before WYDaily, she covered Hampton and Newport News for WYDaily’s sister publication, HNNDaily before both publications merged in December 2018. Julia was born in Tokyo, Japan and moved to Long Island, New York in 2001. A true New Yorker, she loves pizza, bagels and good Chinese food. Send comments, tips and other tidbits to You can follow her on Twitter at @jmarsigliano

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