Pawn shops attract bargain hunters - FOX 13 News

Pawn shops attract bargain hunters

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SARASOTA (FOX 13) -

A retailer tried and true, Chip Clovis sports a sales floor he is proud to show off.

"Almost anything you need," he beams.

TVs on one wall; guitars on the other. Lawn equipment near the window; a jewelry case right smack in the middle.

It's a department store, of sorts. There's even layaway. But there is one significant difference from the mall.

"You're definitely are not going to pay retail," he says.

Chip Clovis runs a pawn shop.

"I know," he says, acknowledging the stereotype: a notion of grit that's not exactly helped by pawn shops' popularity on reality TV.

Clovis's store, ValuePawn, can't be more different from cable television. The lights are bright, the neighborhood is safe, and the staff is gentle.

No screaming. No yelling. No guns.

While it's true that selling items to a pawn broker probably isn't a great deal, buyers can find cut rate prices on most anything. In front of nearly every item at Value Pawn is a sign that reads, "Don't Pay Retail."

On opposite ends of the spectrum, we spotted a $99 Keurig coffee maker for $39 and a $2,000 Mac laptop for $1,100.

The hitch is: a pawn shop's inventory is always changing. And it's unlikely there is a return policy.

Clovis notes that it would be foolish for him to buy defective items, since they'd have no resale value.

"Every item that's come in here has been tested," he said.

Throughout the day, we found a wide variety of people shopping here.

"Everybody," Clovis said.

On his lunch break, delivery driver Milton Whitley gives the jewelry counter a once-over.

"I've gotten got so much stuff here it's amazing," he says. "It's just like a store… but you're not paying retail prices though."

We wondered about the possibility that buyers are bringing home stolen goods. Clovis assured us that, by state law, every item he buys must sit on the shelf for at least 30 days to ensure it's not stolen.

After that cooling off period, the goods go up for grabs –- marked down.

"It's a substantial savings," Clovis said.

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