Shane’s – The Pawn Shop, Inc

Bangkok pawn shops: alive and well

The neighbourhood pawnshop, where residents can get loans in exchange for valuables, is still doing a very good business in Bangkok.

For many, pawn pays the bills

Rising costs are forcing some to trade in their valuables

Darana Chudasri

The rapid rise in credit card use, hire-purchase and personal loans has played a key role in the growth of consumerism across the country.

But some eschew the modern siren call of “buy now, pay later” in favour of an older source of credit – their neighbourhood pawn shop.

For nearly three decades, pawn shops operated by the city have served residents seeking emergency funds or a convenient place to shed their old goods.

Pawn shop operators say business has jumped in recent weeks, reflecting the rise in living expenses and parents raising funds to cover expenses for the new school term.

Boonsong Fugthim, manager of a pawn shop in Klong Toey, says gold is the most common asset brought in.

Business over the past week has risen by about 10% from normal, he said, with two to three baht-weight in gold ornaments pledged each day.

“Many customers walk in and complain that food and everything else is more expensive. But what can you do about it?” Mr Boonsong asked.

One 23-year-old student from Si Sa Ket was waiting patiently at the counter to reclaim a gold necklace she pawned in February to help cover tuition expenses for her undergraduate course.

Another customer, Tik, who works as an administration official at a private school, said: “Since the beginning of the year, I really feel that everything is more expensive.

“Before, 200 or 300 baht might have been enough for food to last me the entire week. Now, I might spend that much in just one or two days.

“My apartment recently raised rent to 5,300 baht per month from 4,900 baht, and electricity prices are rising as well.

“When I asked the landlord why he was raising rent, he only said that everything is more expensive now.”

Tik said her employer has already promised to raise her salary to 12,000 baht per month from 8,800 baht in the near future.

“But I don’t think it will help cover the increases in living expenses. I really feel that the economy was better before.”

Nearby, Sujitra, a 51-year-old housewife, nodded her head in agreement, and expressed sorrow about how life has changed from the past.

“Every three days I have to spend 500 baht for milk for my one-year-old nephew,” she said. “Nappies cost more still.”

Mrs Sujitra said costs upcountry have risen as well. “Food is very expensive,” she said.

“Nowadays you need money for everything, not like in the past when you could grow fruits and vegetables for free.”

It seems nearly everyone has a complaint about food prices.

“Last year, you could buy cooking oil for 29 baht per bottle. Now it’s 50 baht – and that’s only if you can actually find any for sale,” 71-year-old Suwanee Klongpopsuk said.

A pawn shop regular, she visited the Klong Toey store to reclaim three baht-weight of gold that she pledged two years ago, which she plans to sell elsewhere to help finance her grandchildren’s university studies.

“I like pawn shops. The interest rates are low and the payment terms are quite flexible,” Mrs Suwanee said.

Like everyone else in the store, she said prices have jumped in recent months, particularly for food.

“I’d like to tell the government that letting prices to rise so fast isn’t good.”

Shane’s Pawn Shop, Inc

413 W. Lincoln Hwy 
Chicago Heights, IL 60411 
(708) 747-1171
E-mail: Shane’s Pawn Shop

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