Pawn Stores Go Mainstream This Holiday Season

Money Mizer owner Robbie Whitten.

Money Mizer owner Robbie Whitten.

Did you score any good deals this holiday season? This year, more than ever before, patrons utilized pawn shops not only to sell items for extra cash, but to find fantastic deals for gifts. Customers from all economic backgrounds – in cities big and small – scored big-ticket items like watches, jewelry and handbags. With discounts of up to 80 percent off retail and the same exact product you’d find at a designer boutique, what’s not to love about pawn shops?

Pawn shops are losing their stigma – increasingly, new shops are opening in upscale neighborhoods and attracting white-collar and upper-middle class customers who are more interested in buying than selling. And people love to brag about their bargains: in today’s world of extreme couponing and blowout sales, it’s finally cool to save money.

Money Mizer, a pawn shop franchise with locations in Alabama, Florida and Georgia, is a great example of the industry’s growing popularity as a competitor to upscale retail stores. White-collar clients have grown from 10 percent to 35 percent of Money Mizer’s customer base in the past four years, and owner Robbie Whitten says more customers are coming in to make major purchases – 60 percent of all transactions are now sales, not pawns. He says diamonds are a consistent bestseller because clients can find dramatic discounts over retail for high-quality pieces.

You can learn more about Money Mizer and the growing popularity of pawn shops at MarketWatch or learn more about how pawn shops fared this year in the Wall Street Journal’s informative video.