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Tampa pawn shops are doing more business amid inflation and gas prices

Thursday at 2pm at A Universal Pawn Shop in Lake Leto, Egypt.

80s pop music is playing softly on the radio. An autographed photo of Ben Affleck and Kevin Costner hangs on the wall by the door, and a guitar floats above his cabinet of glass jewellery.

Shopkeeper Rick Evans talks with a regular customer about how to turn earrings into belly rings.

After the busy rush has subsided, his pawn shop is open for about an hour.

Evans and his mother do the same every Thursday, sitting in matching gray recliners, drinking coffee and catching their breath before the next wave of customers.

Evans said he’s seen a lot of new people in his store recently and heard a lot of stories about making ends meet.

“Everyone is talking about rising prices,” Evans said. And sadly these people are hurting. ”

But pawn shops across the country are not. They are doing the kind of business we haven’t seen since the 2008 financial crisis.

Michael Goldstein is the treasurer of the National Pawn Association and runs a chain of eight pawn shops in Boston.

He’s a numbers expert and said that even with inflation at its highest in 40 years, it’s gas prices that are hurting his customers the most.

“The ups and downs of the stock market don’t affect my clients,” he said. As such, he doesn’t invest in the stock market as much as most middle and middle class people. ”

Goldstein said the main difference he noticed this time compared to 2008 was that he didn’t see middle-class business owners trying to pawn their goods for cash.

But not in Tampa.

Joe Cacciatore has owned Capital Pawn for the last 25 years. He said he has seen more gold and silver jewelry coming to his shop this year than ever before.

“It’s unbelievable,” said Cacciatore. And they are bringing heirlooms from their families. And more people are struggling to pay their bills. ”

Daylina Miller


WUSF Public Media

Joe Cacciatore, owner of Capital Pawn, said he estimates the loan price between $100 and $20,000. But he also has items in his store that he considers “precious”.

Cacciatore said he tries to help people as much as he can.

“I really thought that eventually the populace would run out of gold and silver, but my lord.” So what do you want? We need to sell.’ I say. [family]?’ That’s not enough. So I give them cash. ”

At A-Universal, Juan Garcia walks into Evans’ store. The fiber optic cable installer is equipped with a power drill and an array of tools.

“A customer gave me these when I was working at his house,” he told Evans.

Like many of Evans’ customers, Garcia is trying to fill up the gas tank.

“My boss, he gives me gas money sometimes when I need it, so I don’t have to get it from him because I’m just trying to do this myself,” Garcia said. .

Evans doesn’t care much about buying tools, but jewelry is the bread and butter in his shop. He said the pieces he sold during the pandemic are back in his stores, thanks to the volatility of the last few years.

“When the pandemic hit and I sent stimulus checks, people came to buy gold,” Evans said. And what we’re seeing is that some of them are actually coming back to us. ”

Evans tells Garcia to go to another pawn shop where he buys tools.

“You have to pay for gas. Even if it’s $10 a gallon, you still have to pay. Or you walk. Or you ride a bike. You have to deal with it,” Garcia said. I was. It’s part of life, man.

However, Evans soon came over and told Garcia that he would give him $40 if he couldn’t find anyone else to take the tools.

With tools in hand, Garcia drove off in a pickup truck, burning gasoline while looking for money to keep the fuel tank full.