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img CEO Todd Hills and his Louis Vuitton travelling bag of pawned jewelry. Hills says the poor economy pushed more upper-income individuals and small-business owners into getting short-term loans by putting up their valuables. His Denver, Colorado-based company deals mostly in high-end luxury goods, such as Tiffany bracelets, diamond rings, Rolex gold watches, and Louis Vuitton bags. But he's also had customers pawn bottles of Dom Perignon, 85-pound bars of silver and even a wheelchair. One of the company's biggest markets is California. (Paul Kitagaki Jr./Sacramento Bee/MCT)
Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Internet makes hocking goods easier

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – In a sputtering economy, cash-strapped consumers are flocking to a new way of getting quick, short-term loans: online pawn stores.

It’s yet another instance of online retailers pouncing on the turf of a brick-and-mortar industry.

For consumers, it means that instead of plopping a castoff wedding ring, camera or china platter onto the counter of a local pawn shop, you do the entire transaction online and by mail.

The appeal: Online pawning is relatively quick, completely private and there’s no stigma of walking into a public place with your personal possessions to hock. And if you default on your loan, nothing gets reported to a credit bureau.

With names like PawnGo and ePawnMarket, these online competitors are changing the way pawnshops meet their customers.

“It’s the convenience,” said Ramon Carder, a Citrus Heights, Calif., resident who recently tried for the first time when he pawned $2,400 in silver coins. “You don’t have to lug all that stuff to a pawnshop that’s not always in the nicest neighborhood.”

Carder, a former U.S. Army soldier who uses his pawn proceeds to play the stock market, said he typically gets roughly half the value – $1,200 – for his coins from a local pawnshop. PawnGo paid more – $1,800 – and the loan amount was deposited in Carder’s bank account the day after he FedExed the coins to the company’s Colorado headquarters.