Has your dear old laptop recently passed away? Are you the only human on your block who still owns a big box TV?
If so, it may be time to go shopping. That’s fun if you have so much money that after you pay all your bills, you wonder what to do with the extra cash. If you’re like most of the world these days, you have to practice doing more with less.
However, that doesn’t necessarily mean doing without. It may just mean getting creative with your options. If you do that, you can buy many types of merchandise, including a laptop or a fancy TV, for exactly the price you can afford to pay.
You’re probably familiar with hunting tech bargains online through eBay. To get one of those bargains you have to sacrifice chunks of your time to monitor the auctions. You also have to develop the skills of a trained auctioneer to know exactly when, in those final minutes, you have to swoop in with just the right bid.
You also need enough experience to estimate that “right” amount, and you need a lot of luck. Assuming the stars align and you do win the auction, you pay your bid and the seller ships the wonder machine you’ve never laid eyes on outside of a few photographs. And photographs can be deceiving.
The other well-known route to tech and TV bargains is Craigslist, which allows you to lay eyes on merchandise before you buy. You’ll have to haggle with an owner who wants too much for their gadgets and gizmos, and then get the property owner to haul his wares somewhere safe and public.
Some cities suggest using police stations for such transactions, and will offer their police facilities because sellers on Craigslist are sometimes criminals who are after much more than the price of a used laptop. Risking death at the hands of a serial killer makes it all sound like much less of a bargain.
There is a better, safer way for you to get a good deal on great gadgets. These treasure troves of bargains are likely located right in your home town. They’re called pawn shops.
Once an item is off pawn, meaning the owner’s right to redeem it has expired, merchandise on which a shop has lent money goes out on the floor and is available for purchase. Merchandise that was sold to the shop, rather than pawned, is available for purchase right away. In either case, the pawn shop has much less invested in the item than retail or wholesale value, and wants only to make a reasonable profit on top of its investment. There is plenty of room in that calculation for a customer to walk out with the exact item they want at the price they want to pay.
Tech, TVs and jewelry galore are readily available because they are often the first items to be pawned. But they are far from the only treasures available. Everything from tools and lawn mowers to exercise equipment can be found at a pawn store, all at significantly lower prices than you’ll find at the mall or a big box store.
But what is the best way to get what you need at the price you want to pay? You can haggle. It’s expected. But even if the pawn shop employee can’t bring down the price of anything in the aisle to fit your budget, that employee does not want to lose a sale. If you are a serious buyer and tell the pawnbroker that you want a specific kind of TV or laptop, and can pay X dollars for it, the broker is apt to lead you from the aisle to the front of the store where the computer system resides.
The broker can also check the pawn shop’s inventory and let you know that there is an item in the back of the store that you might be interested in, and might sell it for X dollars. Because shelf space is limited, the shop is likely to display the highest-ticket items, but it may have other items in inventory that will fit your need and your budget.
The next time you need a laptop, a tech gadget, a spiffy TV with the latest technology, or something more practical like a lawn mower, check out your local pawn shops. They are modern-day pirate ships that have flung open their hatches to allow you to plunder their booty.