A pawn shop is not a second hand shop, a consignment store, or a money lender, but it is some combination of all three of those things. Above all, it is a business and so it should behave like a business, with the proper licenses and know-how, and you should feel as comfortable doing business with a pawn shop as you would with any other retailer in the area.
The signs that you are dealing with a quality pawn shop are:
1) They can provide you with a small loan
A pawn shop is mostly in the business of giving small loans for a short period of time, with a sellable item as collateral. If you need money in a hurry, you can get a loan from a pawn shop and they will hold onto your item for an agreed upon time, until you collect it by repaying the loan within that time and with interest. Most people do return for the items, but if they don’t the store can sell it for the full value. As long as you give a more valuable item as collateral, they will be willing to negotiate for a higher price.
2) They should know the value of the items and understand what they have.
A good pawn shop will know a good piece of jewelry from something gold plated. They will have appraisers on staff and people who can repair jewelry. They will know the value of what you bring in and what you want to buy.
3) They should have a licence
Pawnshops fall under the category of “payday lender” – but don’t confuse them with payday loan companies like CashCo or Money Mart. The distinction is for their classification of licence. Pawn shops in Alberta are legislated by the: Fair Trading Act, Payday Loans Regulation, Cost of Credit Disclosure Regulation and An Act to End Predatory Lending. Each shop must undergo the province’s licensing process to operate legally.
4) They should have good security
Since they are storing your things, they should have a method in place to make sure they are keeping your belongings safe.
5) They are well established in the community and well-liked
A pawn shop should make you feel comfortable in doing business with them. They should be in a good neighbourhood and have a good relationship with the community. You should feel good about any place where you are doing business. Talk to the staff, and go and visit a number of times before you bring in your item to make sure you and the shop can enjoy a great business relationship.