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The Better Option: Pawnshops vs. Online Marketplaces
pawnshops vs. online marketplaces

The appeal of being able to instantly connect with others without so much as leaving the comfort of home has taken priority over face-to-face interactions–especially in this post-Covid world–thanks to various social media platforms. Many people are also opting for a newer buying and selling channel such as Facebook Marketplace, or the classic Craigslist, when they are looking for a particular item or service to buy, or when looking to sell their belongings. So what is the better option?

Craigslist has been around since the early 90s, paving the way for a non-traditional way of connecting people with others in their area to find anything from goods and services, to resources and general connections. Whether you were looking for a lawn mower, a place to rent, a new pet, or a game console; Craigslist was the preferred choice. With the launch of what was considered the “friendlier Craigslist” in 2015, Facebook Marketplace pulled many consumers towards the platform and away from Craigslist. Both services offer the obvious ease of access, but are they the better choice over going to your local pawn shop? 

Pawn shops have been in business for years–a few thousand to put it into perspective–and the majority of these historic shops are owned and operated by small business owners serving their local communities. Yes, the internet may offer more options in hindsight, but your local pawn shop should always be your first stop, as they will always offer the best deal for your item and have many new and second-hand options available to buy in a professional environment. 

A big difference in shopping at your local pawn shop vs. Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace is that there are no safeguards in place to protect you. Many potential dangers are involved when dealing with a stranger over the internet, such as the person not being who they say they are. Making plans to meet up with a stranger is always risky, and one of the biggest disadvantages of buying and selling over online platforms. There are disclaimers available warning users of the dangers, but this does not prevent unfortunate situations from happening. On the contrary, your local pawn shop is a safe, clean, and legitimate place of business. 

Other dangers of buying or selling online is that the item may end up not being as described or very overvalued, with the buyer essentially getting ripped off. Not to mention, there are no regulations on

what you can post, so the likelihood of coming across stolen merchandise is higher. Unlike their online counterparts, pawn shops are highly regulated; all pawnbrokers must be licensed and insured to operate. In Virginia, the pawn industry has been regulated for decades, and all pawnbrokers in the Hampton Roads area are licensed and regulated by local authorities. When it comes to the value of the item, pawn shop employees are trained to be able to spot stolen goods, and make offers on items based on a number of variables to give the best price. Items sold in-store are below cost of big-box retailers; you can be rest-assured you will always find the best value on new and second-hand items sold in your local pawn shop. 

So, in posing the question again – are online platforms such as Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace a better option than your local pawn shop? The answer is no; pawn shops provide a safe, secure, and regulated way to buy and sell your items within a clean business setting that is supporting your local community and small business owner!

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