By McKenna Ross
When you think of pawn shops in Las Vegas, chances are you’re thinking of the Gold and Silver Pawn Shop — the setting of the History Channel’s “Pawn Stars” reality show.
But pawn shops are nearly ubiquitous around other parts of the Las Vegas Valley with roughly 60 pawn shops in the region, according to Michael Mack, a long-time pawnbroker and owner of Max Pawn Luxury.
“Pawn shops have always been a basic staple in every community,” Mack said. “People don’t realize how many people use a pawn shop because there’s the unbankable, the folks that just have bad credit or they’re from foreign countries that don’t trust their banking system so they’re in the cash (market). So if they need $500 in a family emergency, where do they go? We become, really, people’s bank.”
To sell an item, pawnbrokers assess using their value tools such as metal testers and artificial intelligence programs that verify a luxury product’s authenticity.
But pawning — or obtaining a loan and giving up the item as collateral — is different. In Nevada, pawn shops must give borrowers up to 90 days to buy back their property, charge a maximum of 13 percent interest on the loaned money every 30 days and can take possession if the loan is not paid.
At Max Pawn, Mack estimates about 85 percent of his loanees get their things back. The goal is to set a loan amount that can be paid back so as not to lose the person as a customer.