Pawnshops offer alternative services

Updated: 2016-01-26 08:08

By Li Yang in Chengdu(China Daily)

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From laptop storage to jewelry evaluation, shops give more than quick cash

College students and their teachers in need of quick cash or secure storage for their belongings are turning to pawnbrokers for low-cost loans and as a safe haven for their cars and electronics.

A junior, surnamed Ma, from Chengdu, Sichuan province, offered his laptop, for which he paid about 6,800 yuan ($1,033), to a pawnshop near his school. The shop's electronics appraiser, Su Xu, offered a 2,800 yuan loan. Ma only accepted 500 yuan.

In a month, when he returns with the receipt and 500 yuan, he need only pay an extra 21 yuan, 4.2 percent of the loan, according to China's pawn industry rules, to retrieve his computer.

"The extra money is like a safe custodian fee," Ma said. "I need not bring the computer with me for the crowded train journey home during the Spring Festival rush, and I do not want to leave it in my dorm either, for safety concerns, as the campus is almost empty for a month during the winter vacation."

Ma shared his pawn story on his micro blog, and many college students, whose hometowns are far from their schools, commented about how it was a clever and practical solution.

Xie Juanjuan, a pawnshop manager on Wanhe Road in Chengdu, told West China Metropolis Daily that her shop loans money to students and their teachers, who obtain loans on their cars during their school breaks.

"We get business from college students before their summer or winter vacations. They regard pawnshops as a safe place," Xie said.

Not everything is exchangeable for quick cash. Su's pawnshop won't accept items for which it cannot determine a value, say a set of cookers which an owner claims are "made with advanced technology", for example. "For electronic products, the pawn period should not exceed three months, in most cases, because digital gadgets develop so fast that if their owners cannot redeem them, it would be very difficult for the pawnshops to resell them," Su said.

The first pawnshop on the Chinese mainland was opened in Chengdu in 1987 after China's reform and opening up in the late 1970s. Currently, there are 343 pawnshops in Sichuan, with most focusing on real estate and cars. Personal, everyday items account for very little of the business.

Zhang Zhen, a pawn broker in Chengdu, said his pawnshop has reliable measures in place to ensure the safety of pawned items, which run the gamut of personal belongings. When an owner fails to return for an item, it's sold in the shop.

"It is much easier to find buyers for electronic products, gold and watches than luxury women's handbags," he said.

Jewelry, real estate and automobiles are popular pawn items, and their owners use pawnshops as a means of obtaining money quickly for pressing needs. "If their owners fail to redeem these loans, it is easy for pawnshops to resell them again in the market," Xie said.

An amateur jade collector, surnamed Zhang, in his mid-40s in Chengdu, said he often goes to Xie's pawnshop to look for "quality but cheap" jade. He bought a pair of jadeite pendants for about 7,000 yuan.

"Pendants of that quality are priced at tens of thousands of yuan at the department store. It is a good deal," Zhang said. "More importantly, the appraisers in the pawnshops have already helped to identify the authenticity and quality of the jade, which is a very professional test for amateurs in the jade market."

 Pawnshops offer alternative services

A Beijing resident pawned his collection of basketball boots for the down payment on an apartment he bought in the capital. Provided to China Daily