April 14, 2014
Listen here. Aired on NPR's All Things Considered.
It turns out the pawn industry is expanding. But it's not just traditional pawn shops that are proliferating. Chains of pawn shops are springing up that are aimed squarely at the wealthy. I visited a couple of companies in New York, Borro and New York Loan. I also spoke to two people who had pawned items. One has plenty of assets. He pawned a couple of expensive watches to get a quick infusion of cash to finish a movie he was making. The other person was quite desperate after her business failed. And both managers of the companies I talked to told me they get plenty of business owners pawning items so they can meet payroll before their receivables come in.
My Planet Money editor was worried about my pronunciation of 'pawn': because of my English accent, 'pawn' and 'porn' sound almost identical. So I had to fake an American accent on every 'pawn' that came out of my mouth.
I tried on this beautiful, late 1950s/early 1960s diamond necklace. It felt fantastic. If you're interested, it's on sale at New York Loan for $65,000.