The Chop at the Pawn Shop

Baltimore, more than most cities, has always embraced thrift in all its forms. Whether it’s the local Goodwill, the flea market, church basement sale, consignment shops or just finding things on the street, Charm City natives are always keen to save a buck. As anyone who’s saved more than a couple of bucks will tell you, the key to scoring great finds on non-new goods is to keep a constant eye out. Something like the perfect cocktail shaker isn’t going to just sit on the shelf and wait for you to buy it. You’ve got to wait for it, and be ready to snatch it up when it appears.


This is why we’re surprised that more of our friends aren’t in the habit of making regular visits to the pawn shop.

The Chop will take any chance we can get to browse around in a pawn shop, and with brass balls hanging all over the city, that’s no shortage of chances. After all, the pawn shop is just another form of thrift. It may even be the best form of thrift there is, because unlike a Salvation Army or an endless flea market, there’s not a lot of true junk to sift through in a pawn shop. Most everything on display is in the store because the pawnbroker judged it to have some objective value.

After a while, you get a good idea of the typical pawn shop inventory. If you’re in search of a watch (or any other sort of jewelry) a guitar, power tools, or an extra TV for that guest bedroom, you can realize some significant savings buying from a pawn.

We’re thinking of buying a sawzall right now, for instance. Of course, we’re no Bob Vila or anything, just a simple homeowner. We’re not going to use the thing more than twice a year, so saving half of the Home Depot price tag by scoring one used is a no brainer. While we’re there, we might even pick up a few DVD’s (3 for $10 is not unusual) and maybe even some choice CD’s from 1993.

The next time you’re in a neighborhood with a pawn shop, (which is probably right now) go ahead and pop in for a look around. Sure, it can be a little sketchy sometimes, with the buzzer on the door and the gun stashed just out of sight under the counter. It can even be morbid and depressing, seeing the rings of so many broken engagements and heirlooms hocked to make the rent, but you’re a Baltimorean… you should be used to all that by now.