An open sign of a store front.

Smart Lessons from the TV Show Pawn Stars


Think pawning isn’t popular? This age-old business practice is so universal that a TV show about it on the History Channel turned into an international hit – with a lot of lessons to learn for anyone tuning in. 

The most valuable pearls of wisdom viewers got from the show could apply to any exceptional pawn service. To name a few:

1. Pawning Is Universally Popular

Since launching in 2009, the reality TV show Pawn Stars has kept millions of viewers around the globe enthralled with everything pawn-related. It’s taught us what to look for when exploring the different services our neighborhood pawn shop is offering. Also, about the kind of relationship you can build with an honest, expert pawner once you find them.

2. Pawn Shops Are Fascinating – You Never Know What You’ll Find

On TV, people who tune into the show are treated to more than haggling. Those scenes are part of the entertainment and may be partly scripted. But you also get to listen in on interesting conversations about the history of artifacts like a nineteenth century navy pistol or a poker cheating device. With an inventory in the thousands, the pawn shop in question chooses a few items to focus on in each episode, delving into the history behind each one.

3. How Much Is It Worth? Customers Want Accurate Appraisals of Goods

Other than some fun family dynamics, the main attraction of the show is often the recurring segments showcasing product appraisals. When folks bring in valuables from their attics, they want to know how much they are worth. This aspect of the show is a chance to display experts discussing what the market value of goods might be and why, which is why the show was often compared to Antiques Roadshow. Watch enough episodes and you’ll get a sense for how your own family heirlooms might be appraised.

4. Good Pawn Shop Brokers Tell It to You Straight

What stands out about Rick, the co-owner of the shop behind the show, is that he is a straight shooter who tells it like it is. If he doesn’t know the value of an item brought into his store, he takes his time to find out. 

Granted, this kind of plot makes for good TV and doesn’t necessarily reflect how the average exchange goes in real life. One highlight of the show is that numerous experts are introduced to offer up insights into the objects that will indicate what their market value would be today. All of this gives these segments an air of authenticity – a quality you too should expect from any service you would consider.

5. Honest Pawners Gain a Trusting Clientele

Perhaps the central lesson in Pawn Stars is that shoppers need to trust the person they’re considering doing business with. Remember, there are multiple services that consumers could potentially take advantage of at a reputable pawn shop:

  • Selling antiquities 
  • Taking out small loans
  • Using personal valuables as collateral
  • Assessing the value of merchandise 
  • Shopping for unique items

Every good business must earn the confidence of its customers. At the end of the day, Rick and the other characters know their stuff. They know when not to take the advice of certain appraisers, as well as when to learn from them.

6. Some Pawn Shops Can Repair Valuable Items for You, Too

Some episodes involve the Pawn Stars offering to repair items to determine their potential worth (or because something needs fixing). Need a piece of electronics equipment checked out for a possible repair? At Fullerton Pawners on Chicago’s north side, we also restore merchandise for customers, depending on the item and its condition. Give us a call or stop by to discuss your request. 

Fullerton Pawners in Chicago Has the Best Reputation Around 

Need a loan on short notice, or just want to browse some pretty cool inventory? There won’t be any TV cameras. Just a highly experienced and knowledgeable staff that gives clients an honest assessment of their goods, as well as loans when they need them.

Contact Fullerton Pawners by calling us at 773-637-9999, or stop by today to have your own merchandise evaluated.

The interior of a store.

A Brief History of Pawning


Pawning in some form has been around as long as temporary loans have existed. Some say the practice as we know it dates back to Greek and Roman times or even further back to Buddhist monasteries. Others only discover this handy service when they find a local pawn shop and take a peek inside.

It is impossible to say precisely when the basics of pawning – leaving a valuable with a broker as collateral for a loan – officially began. Wherever trading and lending took place, pawning was likely right behind. But if you’re thinking of pawning a belonging of your own or on the hunt for interesting and unique products, learning a little about the industry’s past and present might help you feel more comfortable using this popular neighborhood service

There Is a Long History of Pawning Around the World

The National Pawnbrokers Association (NPA) describes a popular legend about the practice’s origins, or at least the image most often associated with it: “The pawn symbol, which is three spheres suspended from a bar, traces back to the Medici family – a prominent family in Florence, Italy in the 15th century, known for loaning and banking. The Medici family crest features the symbol of the three balls because a member of the Medici family was supposedly working for Emperor Charles the Great and killed a giant with three bags of rocks. The Medici’s were so well known as a finance family that other lenders and people in the finance business adopted similar coats of arms featuring the three golden balls.”

And that is just the history of a symbol still in use today. Suffice it to say, there are countless tales about pawning in the past that connect it to everything from brokered land holdings to charitable “interest-free or low-interest loans.” 

More Recent Pawning Practices in the U.S.

Fast forward a few hundred years and the general purpose of pawning hasn’t changed much. The practice has existed in the U.S. since the early days of Southwestern trading posts. Today, Fullerton Pawners in Chicago is one of roughly 11,000 pawn shops operating in the U.S. One tradition that continues from the olden days: the typical pawnbroker is still a small neighborhood business. Contrary to common misconceptions, the industry is regulated by many laws and statutes, and the businesses benefit people who need a small amount of money to cover immediate expenses ranging from auto repairs to medical care. 

NPA notes a few other key pieces of information about the industry:

  1. Pawning regulations in this country date back to 1892.
  2. A 2017 Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) report stated “pawns do not harm consumers, are not confusing, and do not put consumers in a cycle of debt.”
  3. “States individually license and supervise pawnbrokers, strictly governing loan terms including duration, fees and interest.”

Fullerton Pawners on Chicago’s North Side Is Trusted to Provide Small Loans 

It’s good to know that after so many iterations, pawnbrokers are expected to comply with numerous regulations aimed in large part at protecting consumers. But, as with any industry, not all shops are as reliable as they could be, which is why it is so important to work with a well-established known entity in your community. 

Nowadays at Fullerton Pawners, we are widely trusted to do so much more than handle loans. That is certainly a crucial part of our enterprise, but we also provide many other helpful services:

  • Make Cash Purchases
  • Evaluate Products
  • Repair Valuable Merchandise
  • Sell Diamonds, Jewelry, and Many Other Valuable Items 

Contact Fullerton online, call us at 773-637-9999 for more information, or stop by to check us out in person!

A person examining a ring.

Top Qualities Pawners Look for in Merchandise Appraisals


Giving proper appraisals for merchandise is one of the most important services a pawn shop can provide. But how do they come up with their appraisals – and how do you know you can trust them? It starts with an appreciation for the process itself. Some appraisals stem from a comparison against an identical or near-identical item. If the shop doesn’t have the exact item on hand, they must familiarize themselves with the goods that come in their door so they can do their best to provide an accurate dollar amount when buying and selling goods.

Shoppers are sometimes surprised when they get a different appraisal when shopping around. Before selling your grandfather’s watch or buying a beautiful antique brooch you saw in a window, take a closer look at the process so you can understand how appraisals are done. Just like pawn shops look for certain qualities in products, the customer is also seeking out qualities in the appraiser

Details Pawn Shops Look for to Make Appraisals

If you’re thinking of selling something, it will help to find out for yourself as much about the item as possible. If it’s a family heirloom, have a conversation with someone in your family to discover more about the background and condition of the watch, artwork or piece of jewelry you’re having appraised. Talking to an older relative may provide you with unexpected details that can give a more accurate picture of the item. 

Meanwhile, the pawner will also examine a range of details aimed at assessing every aspect of the item in question. Some things they may look for include:

  • Condition
  • Age
  • Size
  • Distinctive features
  • Where it originated
  • Market value of product or materials

Since there is not always going to be a highly similar item against which to compare your belonging, they will do their best to come up with an assessment based on the above factors to make a determination.

Specific Appraisal Expertise

The appraiser should have expertise in the area of your particular item. For example, to have your antique Tiffany lamp appraised you want to talk to an antiques appraiser with knowledge in that specific area to get an accurate assessment. It’s easier to appraise turn-of-the-century sterling silver pocket watches when they have done so multiple times in the past. Industry certifications, designations and licensing can be helpful in letting customers know that they’re dealing with someone reliable who is able to make informed and accurate appraisals.

Carat Levels of Gold and Silver Jewelry

Jewelry is one of the most common items to be brought into pawn shops. And the carat level can be measured to tell you the purity of the piece of jewelry being examined – for gold, silver, copper and even zinc. There is a different composition of gold at different carat levels, so the pawner may take a look at the percentage of gold to determine the value of the jewelry.

Understanding the purity of what you have, as well as something you may want to buy, is important because it helps you know whether you’re engaging in a good-faith transaction with the business. 

Do You Have to Visit the Pawn Shop in Person?

Find out what the process is of the pawn shop in question. If you call or contact them online, some pawnbrokers may request photos to come up with an initial estimate or determine whether there is potential for the item to be sold at all.

Fullerton Pawners In Chicago Is Trusted to Make Reliable Appraisals 

At Fullerton Pawners, our team of professionals is prepared to answer all of your questions about how we come up with appraisals at our shop. With 30-plus years of experience in the neighborhood, you know a few things about us already:

  • We are a trusted local business.
  • We have a history of merchandise appraising expertise.
  • We have a good reputation in our industry.
  • We take our time making accurate appraisals.

In addition to buying and selling goods, we can also exchange them for loans. Reach out to Fullerton Pawners online, or call us at 773-637-9999 today.

A sign that says "yes, we're open."

Why Reputation Matters in the Pawning Industry


Chicago-area pawn shops are a great source of many things – not just pawning. To name just a few:

  1. Get a temporary loan against collateral
  2. Sell a personal item
  3. Find a great, unique gift 
  4. Repair jewelry and other products
  5. Scout out valuable merchandise

Yet these familiar neighborhood shops don’t always have the best reputation. This is unfortunate, as the above services are highly valuable, and you never know when you might decide to use this popular neighborhood service. With so many different pawning businesses around, it’s vital to know a little about the one you choose to do business with. That way you can be sure you’re getting a good deal, as well as access to high-quality items and trustworthy loan services.

To Help You Find High Quality Merchandise in Chicago

Typically, all of the merchandise in a pawn shop once belonged to someone else. An experienced and reputable pawner will take time to determine the value of the items brought into the store. Doing so requires having a good eye and a fair amount of expertise in assessing the worth of a whole range of belongings, from precious gems and vintage jewelry to guitars and gaming consoles. 

Some of the varied merchandise you might be able to find under one roof include:

  • Valuable watches
  • Family heirlooms
  • Artwork
  • Antique jewelry
  • Musical instruments
  • Electronics
  • Gaming equipment
  • Curiosities

Has there been any damage or repairs needed? Because the merchandise has been owned or used by a previous owner, you may want to know more about it to conclude what a fair price would be for you. 

To Accurately Evaluate Jewelry, Watches and Other Valuables

One misconception is that products at a pawn shop aren’t very valuable. However, you might be surprised at how many folks will want to sell precious gems and other valuables they have inherited from family members. For this group, selling to a pawner is often more desirable than finding a buyer online. Therefore, those products can go for less since they didn’t come in at market price. 

All of which is to say: it’s important to vet a pawner the same way that they vet the products that come through their door. What would the item have originally sold at? What would it go for now if new? Most consumers aren’t also experts in assessing value, and that can leave them vulnerable to being taken advantage of by disreputable players. 

Be sure you’re doing business at an establishment with a solid track record and great reputation in the area where it operates. 

Contact Established, Trusted, Full-Service Pawnbroker at Fullerton in Chicago

To avoid fly-by-night pawners, work with a highly reputable business such as Fullerton Pawners, which has a proven history of excellence in the neighborhood where we have been doing business for decades. We provide cash loans – but also do much more:

  • Diamond Sales
  • Cash Purchases
  • Inventory Assessments
  • Repairs of Jewelry, Watches & Other Items
  • Sales on Broad Diversity of Merchandise 

Contact us online, or call us at 773-637-9999 for more information on what we can do for you today!

Various dollar bills on a surface.

Pawning in the New Year: How Do Loans Work at Pawn Shops?


When an unforeseen event in your life requires an immediate payment to be resolved, pawn shops can be a great source of financial assistance. They’re especially helpful for people who don’t have access to other means of acquiring fast cash – but won’t have a problem paying the loan back within a few months or so. While the amounts tend to be minimal, they are often sufficient to cover minor but urgent expenses.

Common terms that show up in loan agreements include:

  • Cash amount borrowed
  • Pledged item as collateral
  • Interest rates
  • Prepayment
  • Payment due date
  • Other financial terms

The Benefits of Pawn Shop Loans

There are other sources of loans – namely, large banking institutions. But they have loan requirements that not everyone qualifies for, nor has the time to fill out paperwork and then wait to find out. They may want to know:

  1. Personal financial information
  2. Credit score/report
  3. Social security number
  4. Other details, depending on type of loan

It can take weeks for someone to get back to you with a response. And when you need money soon, you may prefer not to waste time if there’s a good chance you’ll be turned down. 

How Do Pawn Shop Loans Work?

To be considered for a loan, all you have to do is visit the pawner with an item of value you want to temporarily trade in as collateral for a small cash loan. Jewelry, gemstones, watches and electronics are common forms of loan collateral. One option is to sell the item outright. But with a loan you can get your property back as long as you pay back the loan per the terms of the agreement. 

These are the basic steps of a pawn shop loan:

  1. Bring in your item
  2. Resale value of item is determined
  3. Pawner gives you an offer
  4. You agree to terms in writing
  5. You pay back the loan and get your property back

Be sure you understand and have fully considered your payment deadline, as well as any interest included in your agreement. The loan amount will likely be a percentage of the resale value of your belonging. For example, if your watch is valued at $100 and they only lend up to 60% of the resale value, you might be offered a $60 loan. 

Redeeming the Loan: The Leveraged Item Still Belongs to You

Before paying back the loan, the item typically still belongs to you as long as you’re meeting the terms of your agreement. Once you’re able you may redeem your debt by paying back the loan, which may include interest or a fee on top of the loan amount. 

What Happens If You Can’t Pay Back Your Loan?

Each loan agreement should be considered individually, as the terms may vary, even at the same location. That said, if you can’t pay off your loan, the pledged item no longer belongs to you. Generally, the pawner can sell it on or after an agreed-upon date in your contract. 

If there is a possibility you won’t be able to pay back your loan on time, you may risk being charged interest rates and even storage fees, which is why it’s so important to be aware of the terms, as well as the potential risks, of any loan agreement.

Get a Loan at Fullerton Pawners, Chicago’s Safe & Reputable Full-Service Pawnbroker 

At family-owned Fullerton Pawners, we believe in transparency and are more than happy to explain how our loan services work. This is one of the reasons we’ve developed such a solid reputation in the more than three decades we’ve been providing loans and other services on Chicago’s north side. 

Among our many available services, we handle:

  • Cash Loans on the Spot
  • Free Loan Appraisals
  • Cash Purchases
  • Sales of Wide Range of Items

Contact Fullerton Pawners online, or call us at 773-637-9999 to discuss taking out your next loan.

A gift with a light blue bow. There are ornaments and pine cones near the gift.

Get Original Holiday Gifts from Your Local Pawner


If you have a lot of holiday gift shopping to do, have you considered visiting a pawn shop? Local pawn shops tend to carry items you won’t find anywhere else, and typically at a reduced price. Some pawn shops even partner with other businesses on popular inventory. 

While you’re there, you can also bring in your merchandise for a temporary loan to cover all of your holiday needs. For example, Fullerton Pawners, which is located in dozens of Chicagoland neighborhoods, can handle many services for their clients:

  • Loan appraisals
  • Jewelry sales
  • Cash loans
  • Watch and computer repairs
  • Much more

But this time of year, a trusted pawner is also your best bet for unique, inexpensive gifts you won’t find anywhere else. There are a few reasons people should do their holiday shopping at pawn shops:

Diversity of Gift Options

Are you in search of beautiful, antique earrings for your girlfriend? How about a cool gaming console for your nephew that you can’t find anywhere else? From nice watches to televisions and other electronics, pawn shops have some of the most unique inventory around. And you can pick up your gift items at a lower cost than what you would have to spend somewhere else. 

Better Prices Let You Buy More Presents

It goes without saying: the better prices at pawn shops leave more dollars in your pocket. This year, forget the overpriced items. Save your cash and get something special for yourself, as well. You might end up spending just half of what you would on a similar item somewhere else. 

Vintage Gifts Rule

When shopping for loved ones, there’s always the risk that they have the item you bought – or that they might get something similar from someone else. With so many shoppers heading to the same big box stores and websites, it can be difficult to find original items

Holiday gifting should be special! And vintage items are always popular, now more than ever. Find out what vintage items are available. That retro-loving friend on your list will thank you. 

Buy Back Something You Hawked – or Get a Loan for Holiday Shopping

The holidays can be an opportunity to buy back that item you hawked that you need back, perhaps as a gift to someone else. But mostly, pawn shops give you an opportunity to sell something temporarily for a small loan you need around the holidays. When a bank isn’t an option, pawners are a great alternative for someone needing a loan of $500 or $1,000. Some reasons for this:

  1. No credit history needed
  2. A temporary financial solution
  3. Easy access to cash
  4. Pay it back with no questions asked
  5. No bank account necessary

Skip the Crowds. Pawn Shopping Is Fun!

Each pawn shop is unique, and in today’s world, that says something. But around the holidays, especially, shopping can be a nightmare. The holiday season should be about enjoying yourself and supporting neighborhood businesses, not waiting in lines or haggling over expensive products. 

Skip the crowds and the headache. Visit small neighborhood shops instead, and remind yourself what originality looks like.

Talk to Full-Service Pawnbroker at Fullerton Pawners In Chicago

Just like with the gifts themselves, there’s a broad variety of pawners out there, from trustworthy ones to those that should be avoided. 

Do some window shopping this season! Stop and have a conversation with the salespeople about what they’re offering, eye-catching displays, and any good deals they may have. An experienced broker will know about the item because they vet what comes in the door. You might want to find out:

  • How old is it?
  • Was it gently used?
  • How do they test the conditions of items?
  • What is the market value (vs asking price)?
  • Are there any other selling points?
  • Are there other comparable items in store?

Contact Fullerton Pawners online, or call us at 773-637-9999 for more information on what we can do for you this holiday season!

A sign that says "come in we're open."

Why Pawning Is a Growing Industry You Should Know About


Pawning may be an old industry, but the use of pawnbrokers continues to rise. Why? Because there’s a lot more going on inside of them than the sale of rings and watches (although those are certainly welcome services to those who need them). Some of the reasons for the growing use of pawners:

  1. Quick and easy access to cash
  2. Local alternative for repair services
  3. A way to secure jewelry, electronics and other goods
  4. Wide variety of valuable items
  5. Preservation of anonymity

The internet has made it easier for pawnbrokers to access new shoppers and expand their customer base. Meanwhile, modern shoppers are more savvy and flexible than ever as they look for new ways to secure loans, make sales of their own, and discover great deals on coveted, hard-to-find items. 

Quick Access to Cash Loans for Chicagoans 

No one expects an emergency, but sometimes life throws you a curveball. And when it does, pawn shops are a convenient, neighborhood way to secure funds on a moment’s notice when there aren’t other options.

Medill Reports describes the basic loan process of pawnbrokers this way: “Pawnshops are primarily financial services that give out cash loans in exchange for physical collateral, often electronics or jewelry. The borrower can then pay back the loan plus interest to get their item back. Or, if the loan is never repaid, the pawnbroker can sell the item in a storefront to recoup losses.”

The loan amount people can secure this way tends to be fairly small, enough to help cover an unexpected bill. It requires minimal documentation and no credit check, which is why so many people use the service.

A Simple Way to Buy & Sell Electronics, Jewelry & Other Goods

Do you have a couple cool rings you’ve been thinking of selling? How about that antique watch that you never wear – but you know someone else would love it? The great thing about a quality pawnbroker is the simplicity of the deal. No red tape or intrusive questions. As long as you work with someone who is knowledgeable regarding their merchandise and provides good customer service, you can find quality computer equipment, smartphones and other valuable electronics for much less than you would at a traditional store.

Wide Range of Repairs, Purchases and Specialty Items

There’s a reason thrift stores are more popular than ever. Young people, in particular, appreciate the value of high-quality, second-hand goods. And pawn shops are the perfect site for discovering antiques and specialty items you can’t get anywhere else.

Keep in mind: not all pawn shops are equal, so it pays to take your time and shop around. For example, an established business like Fullerton Pawners comes with a full stock of unique and valuable goods, as well as a long track record as a trusted neighborhood lender. 

At Fullerton, our customers are often surprised by the diversity of services we offer, including:

  • Instant Cash Loans
  • Estate Purchases
  • Jewelry Repairs
  • Antique Specialists
  • Computer Repairs
  • Free Loan Appraisals
  • Loose Diamond Sales
  • Diamond sales
  • Watch Repairs
  • Wholesale Jewelry Sales
  • Cash Purchases

That said, there’s a reason not every pawn shop has a stellar reputation. One telltale sign you’re dealing with an untrustworthy broker is feeling pressured into a loan or other financial agreement. You should be allowed to browse the goods available, ask questions, and get information on the terms of any loan you are considering. 

Contact Trusted, Full-Service Pawnbroker at Fullerton in Chicago

For access to any of the above services – and a broad selection of merchandise ranging from unique coins and jewelry to antiques and electronics – Fullerton Pawners is here for you. We have a reputation as a respected, family-owned Chicago business that provides quality and secure pawn and loan services. Our team is prepared to answer all of your questions about how we purchase goods and the process for exchanging items for a temporary loan. 

Contact us online, or call us at 773-637-9999 for more information on what we can do for you today!

Illinois Pawn Association National Pawnbrokers Association Chicago Jewelers' Association IWJG
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