Bobby Yandel, owner, puts pawned guns on a shelf behind the counter at Bock's Pawn.

When people get desperate for money to put food on the table, sometimes they resort to pawning tools, guns and even Grandma’s wedding ring.

But, many are never able to come up with the money to reclaim those items. People who are laid off or in a credit crunch are resorting to pawn shops to help ease their immediate need for cash, according to three local pawnbrokers.

All three say they’re taking merchandise but being more selective in what they buy because of the economy.

Bob Callison, owner of Bob’s Pawn at 3012 N. York St., said he’s had 67 percent of customers reclaim their pawned items.

That pick-up rate fell to 60 percent and has now reached 50 percent, he said.

“People have good intentions, but sometimes they just can’t (come up with the money),” he said.

Callison takes a lot of flatbed trailers, saddles and tack and some diamond rings in on pawn. Customers know they can go to his store and pay about half or at least 40 percent off what they do at a retail store, he said.

“Good quality merchandise is what they’re after,” he said.

The industry is seeing more sellers than buyers in the present economy, local dealers say.

They have loaned money on everything from an Indian Territory pop bottle to automobiles. The maximum amount you can pawn something for in Oklahoma — $20,000.

Items people pawn more than anything else — American-made tools, guns and jewelry.

Bobby Yandell at Bock’s Pawn at 114 N. Main St., has been in the business for 30 years.

He says the business isn’t as good in bad economic times. You get a lot of merchandise in, “but who are you going to sell it to?” he said. “A lot of people are just concentrating on buying groceries right now.

“Everybody wants to pawn something, but if they’re out of work, how are they going to pick it up?”

Yandell said the pawn business is getting tougher.

“The pawn business is strange — the last four or five years it’s been a tough business,” he said. “At least four or five pawn shops in Muskogee have gone out in the last four or five years.”

Jewelry was a big deal for pawn shops for years, but the jewelry business is off because so many national retailers are selling what looks nice but isn’t, he said.

“But you still get good jewelry occasionally in the pawn business,” he said.

Steve Moore at U.S. Pawn at 601 S. York St., said his business has picked up since the economy got worse. He takes everything from guns and jewelry to lawn tractors and automobiles.

He, too, said the pick-up rate isn’t as good as it used to be. He said some people who intend to come back get in a bind and just can’t pick up their merchandise.

“We take every deal on its own merits,” he said.

“I’m being more cautious — looking at every deal a little harder than I used to.”

He’s got a degree in business from Northeastern State University and said he knows it’s important to turn his inventory.

“I do a pretty good job of selling the stuff I end up with,” he said. “I don’t get overly proud of it. That means I don’t fall in love with stuff. I turn it — turning my inventory is what I was taught to do.”

But guns are selling because there are so many deer hunters, he said. Buyers have thinned out a bit, he said. But those coming in know they can get something for a lot less.

Ricky Gragg, 27, of Wilburton is one of those customers. He was searching pawn shops last week to find tools. He knew he could pay a lot less in a pawn shop than to buy new tools.

“Oh yeah, at least half,” he said.

Some things you might as well not take to a pawnbroker because they won’t sell, Moore said.

“Computers are difficult to peddle,” he said.

A person can buy a home computer for $400 new, he said. You don’t know if a used one has a virus or not, he said.

The most expensive thing he’s taken in on pawn was an automobile for $20,000.

Many people could go to banks who go to pawn shops, but they need money in a hurry, he said.

“They’ll be in an out of here in 10 minutes,” he said.

Reach Donna Hales at 918-684-2923 or Click Here to Send Email

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