BT 329 & TalkTalk 329
OUR GUIDE TO PAWNING
There’s a lot to learn from Cajun Pawn Stars – particularly that no matter what you had planned to do, you’ll usually end up just watching Cajun Pawn Stars. (Or: “I Was Supposed To Be Working, But This Was On: The Anne T. Donahue Story.”)
And there’s nothing wrong with that (I tell myself and my editors). Pawning takes place all over the world, and if you’re going to revel in its glory, you may as well bask in the wheelings and dealings of the Silver Dollar. However, if you’re hoping to do some pawning yourself, that’s where we, the experts (hello), come in.
Evidently, pawning a la Cajun Pawn Stars is a lot different than selling a bunch of old punk CDs for $20 in the mid-2000s. Trust me. There are rules. Highballs. Lowballs. Lies. Cheaters. Experts. People who use only one word per sentence. You don’t just walk in with a stack of X-Files POGS and assume everyone cares about whether or not the truth is out there like you do. And to save you the humiliation from doing the same, I give you this: our guide to pawning.
1. Walk in like you own the place
Pawn Stars are like high school students: they can smell fear. And while they won’t nickname you and egg your house on your 17th birthday (I’ll never forget), they will take advantage of your insecurity and use it to get their own way. That’s why you walk in like they owe you. Like you’re doing them a favour by choosing their establishment. You may be terrified, and you may be lying, and you may have pep talked yourself in the car, but that’s all in the past. You may know nothing about the planner you’re bringing in, but today you will give it a story, and you will give it a name, will treat it as the only planner to matter on this planet – because in this moment, it is.
2. Be patient, but not overly generous
So you’ve brought in what you think is Margaret Thatcher’s day planner from 1989 – and no one believes you. So naturally, this makes you want to collapse in on yourself like a dying star. This is when you borrow from Meryl and give the greatest performance of your career: “We’re going to get someone to come in and check this out,” they say. You roll your eyes and sigh like this happens all the time because you are absolutely that important. “Well,” you answer. “If that’s what you’ve got to do.” (That is what they’ve got to do – because this is a business.)
But remember, not everyone’s out to get you, either. As proven by Jimmie, some owners will direct you to a museum or auction house if they think you can get more money there. At least if you have a vintage prison tattoo machine.
So the expert has made the assessment: not only is the planner authentic, it was signed by Meryl Streep and Helen Mirren, because why the hell not. The expert says it’s priceless (duh), but more realistically, £2000. You look at the Pawn Star. They look at you. It may be worth £2000, but because they have to sell it, present it, and make a profit, they’ll offer you something like four (pounds). This is when you say £1500. You will never get what something is worth, but you can still get what the business might sell it for (£2000). If you really want to play your part, say £2800 and throw them off. “Is she crazy?” they’ll think. Yes: with knowledge and power. The higher you go, the lower they’re go, but that means the middle ground will be reasonable.
4. Threaten abandonment
But what if they don’t budge, and your plan falls apart? Easy: you bluff. If you’ve got something that’s actually a commodity, you’ve still got the power (sung like Snap), so act like you’re not that attached to their specific establishment. If they really want what you’ve got, they’ll make some sort of a deal. (Remember the 12-year-old and his vintage BMW steering wheel? “One hundred and twenty-two and-a-half.”) If they don’t…
5. Know when to fold ‘em
In the words of Kenny Rogers (because the world of pawning can be summed up in a Rogers’ song about gambling), know when to walk away. If you really don’t care about what you’re pawning, then take what they offer. I mean, if you were just going to throw it out anyway, why aim for the big guns? (Do I sound Cajun yet?) But if you loved this piece, and lived for this piece, and wanted nothing less than £10,000 for this piece, then don’t settle for anything, ever (in life) and leave. Why pawn it if it’s that precious? Either keep it and show everyone how much Meryl Streep’s autograph means to you, or head down to the Silver Dollar.
Or just give it to me because I’d like it the most. (I’m sorry, but it’s true.)