Have you been to a pawnshop lately? Windsor has several of them including Economy Exchange where Mark Bradac is the proprietor. 

You may remember him from the two seasons of ‘Pawnathon Canada’, a reality TV show in which customers brought in items to see how much money they can sell it for. He’s one of Windsor’s local legends.

This is Mark’s second time enjoying celebrity status. He was a guitarist in Windsor’s successful band Teaze from 1975-81. He is a likeable guy who does well in front of an audience.

But, let’s get back to pawnshops. All of the TV pawn shows are fascinating on a couple accounts. First, you discover the valuable treasures that people sometimes have and are willing to sacrifice for a price. Secondly, you see the reality of running a business where the pawnbroker wants to be fair, but still needs to make a buck and will buy treasure at the lowest price he or she can.

The shows appeal to our curiosity about treasure and the tension of getting less for it than it may be worth.

There’s another side to pawnshops that the TV shows don’t focus on very much. Their primary function is providing collateral cash loans to people by agreeing to have the shop hold their merchandise at a high interest rate. When the customer comes back and pays the loan in full, they receive their item back. This is a quick fix for people who need to borrow cash without going to the bank for a loan. The average loan amount nationally is $150.[1]

When you are unable to pay back the loan, the item becomes property of the pawnshop that then sells it in their store. Defaulting on the loan does not affect a person’s credit rating, because the item of collateral becomes the payment.