It seems the Michigan State Police raided a “pawnshop,” and now the “pawnshop’s” “customers” are
wondering if they will ever be able to buy their items back.
Aside from the evident confusion of the Fox reporter — pawn customers do not “buy back” their collateral, they repay a loan and redeem it — this story does raise some questions. The “pawnshop” was (allegedly) operating without a permit. That means, we suppose, that the “customers” were without the protections that regulations provide for real “customers” of real “pawnshops.”
Just hanging out a sign doesn’t make you a pawnbroker, any more than hanging out a shingle makes you a lawyer or a doctor.
The story does not say low long the “pawnshop” operated without a permit, or whether it had any sort of business license at all. In other words, was this a totally fly-by-night operation, or was it an example of a (more or less) legitimate business that crossed the line into pawnbroking unintentionally?
Generally speaking, you shouldn’t have to check the Business Registration division of the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs (in Hawaii, or whatever the equivalent is in Michigan) before doing business; although maybe that wouldn’t be such a bad idea. Our Maui pawn shop has been in business at the same location for decades, so you can assume — and you would be correct — that it has its proper licenses and is supervised by (among others) the Maui Police Department.
A pop-up shop that hasn’t been around for long, all assumptions are chancy.
Before you pledge your wedding ring — we will assume here that it has both sentimental value and precious metal value, and the sentimental value might be higher than the gold value — maybe you should check DCCA for complaints. Just because a pawnshop has a license doesn’t mean it also has a good record of complying with the mandatedc hold perios (15 days on purchases, 60 days on pawns). We know of a local pawnshop (not ours) that has been sued — more than once — because a customer went back to redeem a pledge and discovered that it had been sent to the smelters.
Pawnshopsa are not the only businesses where people leave valuable property and expect it will be there later when they want it — banks, escrow companies, stockbrokers, property managers and storage companies come to mind in this respect. Think Bernie Madoff.
The adage, know who you are dealing with, applies across the board.