How to Haggle at a Pawn Shop

February 06, 2020 - Pawn Resources

Are you interested in an item at a pawn shop but want to get a better deal?

Your guitar has been sitting in the corner of your room collecting dust for months. Or you want to buy an iPad for your daughter’s graduation. Whether you have an item you want to sell or buy, a pawn shop is a great place to make some extra cash or find that item you’ve been looking for.

A question that comes up a lot is, “Are these prices negotiable?” The short answer–yes. Pawn shops often have a bit of wiggle room when it comes to buying and selling.

What if haggling isn’t your thing? Here are some tips to help you haggle like a pro to get that item you want or the cash you need.

How to Haggle when Selling at a Pawn Shop

1. Pawn or Sell

It’s important to understand the difference between pawning and selling and be clear about which one you want to do. Pawning is essentially a loan.

When a pawnbroker makes an offer on a pawn, you are turning in an item as collateral. This offer includes a certain amount of days you have to pay back the loan to get your item back. The offer is based on the possibility that you may not pay the loan back in time. At that point, the shop can sell your item.

2. Prepare your item

Be sure that before you come into the shop, whatever your selling is in the best condition possible. Dust off the guitar for instance, and consider getting new strings!

3. Do your research

Know ahead of time the value of the item you want to sell. Look it up on eBay or Craigslist and find the prices that other sellers are asking for the exact same item.

4. Negotiate

A pawnbroker will likely offer around 50% of the value of your item, give or take. Don’t expect to get much more than that. A pawn shop is a business, not a charity.

Also, they’re not collectors. Even if that vintage ring was given to you by your favorite great-aunt, that doesn’t matter. Unless the history behind it can be authenticated, an item’s sentimental value won’t play into the negotiating process.

5. Fine Tune Haggling

After the shop makes an offer, it’s okay to ask for a higher price. But don’t go overboard, or you might blow the deal. At most you’ll get about 60% of your items value. If they offer that, run with it. If they’re set at 50%, don’t push it. It’s okay to be confident, but know when to back down.

How to Haggle When Buying

1. Inspect the Item

Make sure the item is in good condition and the asking price is fair. Most pawnbrokers will ask for a fair price, but again, it’s still negotiable.

If you can, try to find out how long an item has been in the store. The longer it’s been there, the higher your chance is of getting a better price.

Many shops have a “code” on the price tag that indicates the date of purchase. Shops will use code words like “Mary Louise”, “Moneytalks”, “Blackhorse”, or “Volkswagen”–10-letter words with each letter representing a number. If you can crack the code, you’ll know how long an item has been in the store.

2. Make an Offer

A good place to start is around 80% of the asking price and then go from there. Sometimes the pawnbroker will accept that offer, sometimes not.

3. Haggle

If the pawnbroker comes back with a counter-offer that’s fair, you can take it or you can haggle. Again, remember that it’s a business.

One thing you can do is ask them what the lowest price is that they’re willing to sell it for. After that, you there’s not much wiggle room, but you can try to offer maybe $5-$10 less, depending on the item.

4. Pay with Cash

If you come in with cash, you’ll have a better chance at negotiating than when paying with credit. If you can say, “I have $100 cash right now,” it’s likely the pawnbroker will take it.

Haggling is Easy

When it comes to buying or selling, if you use these tips, haggling can be easy and fun.

If you have a good attitude, are respectful and understand that the Shop is a business, you’ll all come out ahead. You either make some extra cash by selling something you no longer need or get a good price for something you wanted.

Find out more about how we can help you today!

David Stiebel
David Stiebel

David Stiebel is one of the cofounders of PawnGuru. David was educated at MIT, where he studied Math. He subsequently worked at Bain as a data scientist before starting PawnGuru in 2015. He started PawnGuru to build a better tool for pawn shops and consumers to connect.

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Avatar for Easton Memmott

Easton Memmott

September 4, 2018, 5:09 PM

I really liked your tip to always ask for a lower price at a pawn shop. I am going to buy my first guitar at a pawn shop, and I want to make sure that I get it for the best price. I will be sure to try and haggle, and hopefully I can get it for a lower price.

Avatar for Taylor Anderson

Taylor Anderson

October 29, 2018, 4:59 PM

A lot of my relatives on my dad’s side of the family love to go to pawn shops and thrift stores. I may be shopping with them sometime, so I’ve been wanting to learn more about haggling at a pawn shop. Thanks for mentioning that I should inspect how long the item has been in the store, as it can make it easier to get for a cheaper price. These tips could potentially help me in the future, so thank you for sharing them.

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