A Nurse with a Gun

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The Pawn Shop Circuit: A Dry Run, Tips & a M&P

Pawn Shop BallsThis morning was another dry run for me on the Pawn Shop Circuit. Neil had a Sig 226 for $375. He had sold the Colt Trooper for $239. That did not surprise me. Dave still had his Rossi 971 priced at $219. He had placed a Taurus Model 83 beside it priced at $199. Amber still had her XD40 and her Taurus P22 for sale, as well as a couple of guns out of hock that did not grab my interest.

I do a lot of gun buying at pawn shops. My economically depressed city is full of pawn shops. I usually make a stop once or twice a week at the same three shops just to see what is on the gun shelf and shoot the breeze if they are not busy. I get some pretty decent deals there, so I'm a return buyer. I occasionally go into a few other pawn shops, but they don't tend to deal the way I do. Two of the shops I stop in regularly have firearms priced to sell, and they do a brisk business. They have a "gun guy" and they make money coming and going. They feel their main focus making money is on loans though, and just want the guns to move afterwards. The third shop tends to have old stuff, but they don't have a "gun guy". It's a bit tougher there, but the selection is worth it.

It has been my experience that the corporate chain pawn shops are where the deals are. They are out to make money, and will price guns to sell. They usually price by the Blue Book if they can find the gun in it. They may have a problem accurately determining the gun's condition though. The old maxim applies, "If the condition ain't right, the price ain't right". Get to know the manager of these places. They set the prices. They are often bound by corporate rules regarding lowering prices, and are loathe to change a price once it's in the computer. I have had them ask my opinion before they price a gun though, and I try to be fair. They will often pull something out of the back that will be going on the shelf later that day to let me see it. Unfortunately, it's usually a O&U Winchester or some such..... These are the guys who cannot find an old Smith & Wesson M&P in the Blue Book, so they list it as a S&W .38spl and price it like it's a Saturday Night Special. As long as they turn their percentage on the sale, they are happy. I buy it when I come in, it's out of inventory, and their books look good. Everyone's happy. By contrast, Mom & Pop Pawnbrokers will hold that old M&P until they know exactly what it is, then price it at $50 above what the market will bear in anticipation of a haggling customer. I'd like to help Mom & Pop out, but I just don't have the time to play that game, and I don't want to hear their sob story about how the corporate pawn shops are killing their business.

When scouring pawn shops, you cannot go in looking for a particular gun. When you see a particular gun you like though, you must know what it is worth to you. It does not matter what the pawnbroker gave for it. That's his business. If you buy a gun below value and sell it for market value, that is your business. If I see a gun I like but the price is off, I offer what it is worth to me. If the price on the tag is fair, I pay it. Likewise, I don't waste his time dickering if I'm not serious about buying. I pay in cash, but I don't pull it out and wave it around like the pawnbroker is a pauper who will make any deal for a buck. That is insulting. Most pawnborokers keep more cash on hand than most banks. They are, after all, financial institutions.

I treat the pawnbrokers as friends and businessmen. As a result, I get treated like a valued customer. When I state my price, they know I will buy at that price. If they like it, we deal. If they don't, we remain friends and I will be back the next week. I've yet to meet a pawnbroker who will lower a price for someone who treated them rudely. I have met pawnbrokers who tend to treat customers with distain. They have heard every sob story in the book. They are immune to it, and simply do not want to hear another. When they realize you are a buyer, not a borrower, who will simply state your price, take it or leave it, and who will walk politely with no sniveling if it's not taken, you gain instant credibility.

So, today I came up dry again, but the hunt is part of the fun.Nickel M&P 1928This revolver is one I found on Neil's shelf for $125 last year. I performed the "Jim March Revolver Check Out" on it, and talked him into $125 out the door. All the numbers match on the gun, and all the rollmarks are crisp. It sports a factory nickel finish. The action was smooth as silk, and the cylinder locked up tight. The old Smith came with the original grips, but they were pretty well worn down. My serial number falls right among the nickel M&Ps that were made for the Texas State Prison System, although my example is not marked TSP, it's age is thusly verifiable as 1928-29. The nickel finish is likely original, as they were nickeling this gun at that time, and no indicators point to it being a refinish. When I think that someone bought this revolver right before the Great Depression, obviously cared for it, and quite possibly held on to it through financial pitfalls, to be passed down through the family until it reached a pawn shop shelf, it's kind of amazing the things this piece has seen from the bottom of a sock drawer. History or not, I bought this gun to shoot. I decided to change out the grips so I would not ruin the originals. I fabricated a new pair of stag grips and inserted some S&W brass medallions I had.

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