Ohio Pawnbrokers Association
In today’s diverse society, many people depend on pawnbrokers to help them meet those daily financial needs not met by other financial institutions.
Dear OPA Members,
I spoke at length about one of the current issues confronting us, retail property theft, (organized theft from big box stores) at our last meeting. I mentioned how this is a nationwide problem. Additionally, I mentioned how there are shops in Ohio that take in “NEW IN BOX” “NIB” items every single day from some of the same people and groups of people. These shops have back rooms that look like Lowes or Home Depot.
My concern, (and I hope yours as well) is that if we do not take a stand and police ourselves, to set up our own policies and procedures for taking in “NEW IN BOX” or brand new items not in-box, then we will be subjected to additional harsh regulations that negatively affect our business and the pawn industry. You need to have some policy in place to deter thieves from attempting to dispose of stolen goods at your business.
It has already happened in Florida where a bill addressing this issue, and the outlets where the thieves dispose of the stolen goods, have been moving through the state legislature. I have also received information that California is crafting a bill to address this as well.
We have been approached and had a meeting with a group looking to make a legislative change to the Pawnbroker Act to deal with this issue. I am hoping that we can avoid that.
We all take some new stuff in. How you handle new items when you take new items in, how much you take in, and from whom, all determine whether or not you are operating your pawnshop in an ethical manner. Some pawnbrokers have chosen to merely “follow the letter of the law” with a wink and a nod, to take in items that you should know are stolen. That is against the law and it violates the pawnbroker’s act. I for one would not wish to stand before a judge and argue that “I didn’t know it was stolen” when you repeatedly take in brand new in-the-box items from the same person day after day or week after week.
If that is how you wish to operate, please surrender your pawn license and strictly become a buy-sell shop.
My factors to consider for taking in “NEW IN BOX” and “BRAND NEW ITEMS”
All of this needs to be taken into account, in my estimation, in each individual transaction. The separate elements help determine if we will take an item in or not.
- Time of Year: Is it post Black Friday, Pre-Christmas, Post-Christmas, or in the midst of tax return season? All of those are times of the year when our customers do spend/overspend on brand new items. It makes sense to have new in-the-box items at that time of year.
- Know your customer: Is this a regular pawn/retail customer? Someone you know, someone you have done business with in the past? Not part of a “group” project, not someone from several counties over, not someone who lacks knowledge (brand, use, type, cost, etc.) of the item they are trying to sell.
- Volume / Frequency: Check their ID and your transactional history with them. How many new items do they have? Have they brought in new items before? If so, when? Daily? Weekly? Monthly? Annually?
- Receipt: Does the customer have a receipt? Is it from the same day? Everyone should have a receipt nowadays. Store clerks will hand them to you and email them to you. It’s not that hard to be able to trace where an item came from. Some times of year (see above), you may not feel that you require it, other times, you might.
Regardless, we are in the pawn business. The primary nature of our business is offering loans on personal property, (most of the time it is used or pre-owned). Buying from the public is an ancillary portion of pawnbroking. (Divorce, no need for an item, they do not feel they can repay a loan, or do not want the item back). It should not be the lifeblood and majority of your business activity.
If your purchase/hold area looks like a Lowes, Meijer, or Home Depot, because of a supposed “lack” of knowledge or because you report the items as “New in Box” and follow the law, then you are part of the problem.
Did you know that by some estimates, approximately 20% of the adult population in the United States does not have a formal relationship with a bank? Imagine needing to borrow a small amount of money to keep the electricity on, or pay the rent or get the car fixed, with no place to turn to?
That is where pawnshops play such an important role.
Our customers represent the working families of America who have an unexpected need for short term cash.
Today’s pawnbroker may be a small business owner operating a single location or an entrepreneur with a larger company owning multiple locations around a city or a state. This growing, competitive industry is working hard to upgrade the image of pawnbrokers and to offer needed services to the public.
The Ohio Pawnbrokers Association (OPA) encourages its members to give back to the community, and offers guidance to pawnbrokers on how to get involved locally.
Working with law enforcement has always been an important part of being a pawnbroker. Pawnbrokers comply with all federal, state and local regulations and laws and in most jurisdictions they provide local law enforcement with data on all of their transactions on a daily basis.
Did you know pawnbrokers must comply with well over one dozen Federal laws which regulate nearly every facet of operation? Like other financial institutions, pawnbrokers are governed by the:
USA Patriot Act
Bank Secrecy Act and IRS regulations regarding reporting of certain cash transactions
Trading with the Enemy Act and Related Executive Orders and Regulations
Gramm-Leach-Bliley Financial Services Modernization Act
FTC Privacy and Safeguard Rules
Equal Credit Opportunity Act
Soldiers and Sailors Relief Act
The OPA works to provide pawnbrokers statewide with resources and tools to strengthen the pawn industry. OPA members are committed to operating their business in such a manner as to enhance and promote the positive and professional image of all pawnbrokers.
Bargain hunters and pawnshops go hand in hand. A wide variety of pre-owned and new merchandise ranging from jewelry, diamonds, musical instruments, electronics, power tools, antiques and collectibles can be found at the neighborhood pawnshop.
When visiting a pawnshop you’re likely to find bright, sophisticated lighting and modern merchandising programs to rival the major discount stores.
Pawnshop employees are trained in the latest customer service skills and sales contests take place like any other retail store..