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I was thinking about pawnshops the other day, and whether they are a good place to look for watches. I read through all the posts I could find on the forum, and they didn't really address the issues I was thinking about.

What I get out of the posts is that you aren't going to find any bargains on high end watches, although you may be able to bargain to a good price when the rare R*&X shows up. But I haven't seen anyone who thinks pawnshops are a good way to get upper-echelon watches.

For mid-lower end pieces, you may find some decent bargains, but again, you have to be able to bargain to a good result.

Here are my questions: (1) are those conclusions valid and (2) Do WIS have an ethical issue with buying watches that have been put on pawn by desperate people in desperate circumstances? The whole scene bothers me, but in a way it is the ultimate expression of the "Free Market". They provide a valid service for people in need. On they other hand, they are terribly predatory. Can we patronize them with a clean conscience?
 

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I had not realized Rolex was an expletive. I shall start using the word Rolex in my rap lyrics the next time I freestyle.

What I get out of the posts is that you aren't going to find any bargains on high end watches, although you may be able to bargain to a good price when the rare R*&X shows up. But I haven't seen anyone who thinks pawnshops are a good way to get upper-echelon watches.
But on a more serious note, the answer to your question comes down to personal ethics and values.
 

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I went through the pawn shops in my home town a while ago looking to see if there were any bargains to be had. The prices for clapped out crappy watches were insane. I don't know who would consider them. The expensive (Rolex only) watches were also way overpriced considering the condition and lack of provenance. So I guess for where I live, Craig's List, EBay or the WUS forums are a much better place to look.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I had not realized Rolex was an expletive. I shall start using the word Rolex in my rap lyrics the next time I freestyle.



But on a more serious note, the answer to your question comes down to personal ethics and values.
I recently swore never to get involved in another R$%*x flame war. I figure the only way to avoid it is to never let the dreaded word pass my lips (or keyboard).

But, again, more seriously, what are the ethics of pawnshops? Which ways do values pull? I can make arguments both ways. . . I'd be interested to hear what others think. Are we taking advantage of the less fortunate when we buy grandad's watch for a song? Or is that just the way the free market rolls?
 

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Yea I usually take a look at pawn shops just to have a look and have never really found any deals. Everything is usually way overpriced and the condition is horrible usually. It all depends on where you go tho, some areas have some nice pawn shops that have a decent selection. I have seen some cool watches at places specializing in estate sales but they are usually overpriced too. Oh yea and as for the ethical question, as long as they aren't stollen then who cares? Not everyone who sells to a pawn store is desperate, some are just to lazy to do the work and sell it themselves
 

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I recently swore never to get involved in another R$%*x flame war. I figure the only way to avoid it is to never let the dreaded word pass my lips (or keyboard).

But, again, more seriously, what are the ethics of pawnshops? Which ways do values pull? I can make arguments both ways. . . I'd be interested to hear what others think. Are we taking advantage of the less fortunate when we buy grandad's watch for a song? Or is that just the way the free market rolls?
I don't buy used watches for myself unless it's a discontinued model that I really like, or it is for someone else. I extend this to most things in life, with the exception of perhaps puppies and fish. So, if I were to find myself in a pawn shop, I should not have taken the red pill the night before.

"Of your philosophy you make no use, if you give place to accidental evils."
 

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Pawn shops generally over price their watches.
"ethics" are non-existant.
I'll never screw anyone and I'll not be screwed.
Call that what you want.
 

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I've never purchased a watch from a pawn shop, but I have purchased a musical instrument before. The ability to bargain and a solid understanding of what constitutes a fair price are absolute necessities. I would agree that people who sell there are either lazy or they don't know any better--you definitely don't get a good value compared to ebay or craigslist.

Incidentally, the pawnshops in Hollywood are pretty nice, I must say. A pawn shop in an area like that strikes me as a place where people that are used to a certain lifestyle fell on hard times, or possibly they are used to tossing away "toys" when they are tired of them. While both are unfortunate, I don't know that there is a clear cut ethical dilemma associated with it. I could see it going either way, so if you do have a problem with it, there are plenty of other ways to buy a watch. You are probably more likely to get a bargain at an estate auction or something.
 

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Not everyone who sells to a pawn store is desperate, some are just to lazy to do the work and sell it themselves
This is pretty much my thinking. With all the venues available on the internet today, you have to be pretty nonchalant to not take advantage of the ease with which you can sell your used stuff. Nobody holds a gun to anyone's head and forces them to walk into a pawnshop. Most people who go in do so willingly. So... no ethical qualms at all about buying their abandoned stuff.
 

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I have to agree with those who mentioned watches being in pretty bad condition. Pawn shops sometimes put their best jewlry and watches right up front. Last pawn shop I took a look at had a TAG ladies model in the window. It looked rather crappy, and was the best watch there.

Can't comment about ethics or prices. But as far as selection, it's going to be like going to a pot-luck dinner. You know there will be watches there. Just have no clue what you'll find. As for condition, if you restore watches as a hobby; then go for it. Otherwise, not worth the time.
 

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I've only seen crappy chinese fakes in the few pawn shops I've been to
 

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The pieces I'm interested in are more likely to be found online - eBay, vintage dealers - than in a pawnshop. Most vintage stuff I've seen in pawnshops was real junk. As far as the ethics go, that's beyond the scope of this forum and getting into normative economics.
 

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This is the first, and maybe even only, time I've heard pawnshops described as "ethical"... It's a very interesting, and meaningful, word to describe something not-so interesting.

cheers,
Jake.
 

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Never been in a pawn shop in my life and have no idea how they work. When I was a kid, a pawn shop was a shady place with scary patrons in a neighborhood you didn't want to be in or near and if you were, you scooted through as quickly as possible. I guess those instructions from Mom have stuck in my mind all these years...
 

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Pawn shops are not stores in any normal sense. They are a lot more similar to banks. You take a loan from the pawn shop, secured by collateral (in this case your Rolex). If you don't pay off the loan in time, the pawn shop can keep the collateral (and may still be able to collect on the remaining debt, if any). Because the transaction is secured and there is no collection difficulty (and therefore there is very little risk), these loans can be relatively affordable for low income people.

There is nothing immoral (which is what we're concerned with here, as opposed to ethics) about buying from a pawn shop. The continued ability to sell the goods is what allows pawn shops to keep making loans to people who believe they need them.

I tend to believe that more freedom is better than less, and that people who take these loans know what they're doing with their money better than I know what to do with their money, so I see no legal or moral reason to question the practice. If we all stopped shopping at pawn shops (well, let's be honest, none of us do anyway...) we would simply foreclose a line of credit among the lower class who would then turn to loan sharks with far higher rates and more disruptive collection tactics in order to sustain their life style.

That said, human beings of every region and wealth level could do a much better job of lowering their standard of living and adjusting their expenses to reasonable levels.
 

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Pawn shops loan money secured against the value of items that are held in pawn for the duration of the loan. If the money is not paid back (with interest) by the time the loan matures, the items become the property of the pawn broker and will be put up for sale.

Pawn brokers provide a valuable service to people who need short-term cash and have no other (legal) options to get it. People who use the service know the terms up front, and willingly surrender their items in exchange for the cash. I don't see any ethical issues at all. It's no more or less ethical than a bank issuing a mortgage against the value of your home, or a stock broker loaning you money on margin against the value of securities held in your account.

Of course there are many sad stories about people who lost their items because they couldn't raise the money quickly enough to buy them back out of pawn. Similarly, there are many sad stories about people who lost their homes and/or fortunes because they couldn't pay back their bank or broker in time to keep their property. It's part of the risk of taking on debt.
 

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Pawn shops are not stores in any normal sense. They are a lot more similar to banks. You take a loan from the pawn shop, secured by collateral (in this case your Rolex). If you don't pay off the loan in time, the pawn shop can keep the collateral (and may still be able to collect on the remaining debt, if any). Because the transaction is secured and there is no collection difficulty (and therefore there is very little risk), these loans can be relatively affordable for low income people.

There is nothing immoral (which is what we're concerned with here, as opposed to ethics) about buying from a pawn shop. The continued ability to sell the goods is what allows pawn shops to keep making loans to people who believe they need them.

I tend to believe that more freedom is better than less, and that people who take these loans know what they're doing with their money better than I know what to do with their money, so I see no legal or moral reason to question the practice. If we all stopped shopping at pawn shops (well, let's be honest, none of us do anyway...) we would simply foreclose a line of credit among the lower class who would then turn to loan sharks with far higher rates and more disruptive collection tactics in order to sustain their life style.

That said, human beings of every region and wealth level could do a much better job of lowering their standard of living and adjusting their expenses to reasonable levels.
+1. I have no doubt there are those who manage their money poorly and would do better to avoid pawn shops. However, they probably also have a problem with credit cards and I don't meet many people who think we should ban them.
 

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I don't see an ethical problem buying pawned items from a pawn shop any more than buying from an estate sale or on Ebay. People sell items outside of pawnhops all the time because of an emergency need. The venue hould not make a difference. As a buyer you can only make assmuptions about the situation of the original owner. You could have more of a legal or ownership problem if the pawnshop was fencing stolen goods.

That said, I've shopped pawnshops several times. My reaction so far is not surprisingly those folks know the value of the items they either buy outright or loan against. There are very few steals to be had, and certainly not among the high end watches. Most used items will be faily priced given their condition which can many times be quite worn. Pawn shops also buy new jewelery and watches wholesale for resale.

Don't be wowed by what looks like a bargain price. There is usually a very good reason for that low price - you just have to figure out what it is.
 

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As far as buying; pawn shops can be a good place for used musical instruments - buying anything else is a crapshoot
 

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I buy from pawn shops all the time. I even have ones that call me and tell me they got certain pieces in i might be interested in. I know how much things are worth that i am buying, so do they. It seems they are more then happy they can move watches which from what i understand is a slow moving item in my area. The best part of it for me is when they decase a movement and toss the movement in a box i get to pick up said box for real cheap some times with 100+ movements in it. I did go out looking for them that work with me in this way and spent my money and time building a relationship. I do the same things with my local watchmakers and repair shops.
 
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