There weren’t lines out the door, but Black Friday was still a busy day at Rockingham Trading Post in Plaistow.
At one counter, a man was bargaining with an employee over some silver coins. On the other side of the store, a group of people were browsing through a collection of guitars.
“I expect there to be a lot of activity here in the next few weeks,” owner Victor Giaimo said, “especially people who are coming in with items.”
With the calendar turning to December, some pawnshop owners are anticipating one of their busiest months of the year. While some will be buying their holiday gifts, many will also be looking for some extra cash.
“Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, people are a little tight on money,” said Al Nolan, owner of Al Nolan’s Jewelry & Pawn on Rockingham Road in Derry. “Heating costs are going up. Electric and fuel costs are going up. People need the money.”
Giaimo said people are looking to pawn a variety of items.
“Broken gold, any kind of necklaces and rings, silver flatware. Those are what people are trying to get rid of,” Giaimo said. “This year, people are pawning off game systems. People are selling their PlayStation 3 to get a PlayStation 4 or the new XBox.”
Nolan said electronics has surpassed jewelry as his most popular transactions.
“It’s just what people need now,” he said. “Electronics have become a necessity, while jewelry is more of a luxury. It has definitely changed over the years.”
But December is pretty much business as usual at some other local pawnshops.
“People aren’t really coming in here more to buy anything,” said Jason Kimball, owner of Plaistow Trading and Pawn. “They always need more money throughout the year. The economy is still pretty bad, so we always have people looking for more money. They’re borrowing money so they can go out and spend more money.”
People needing to spend money is usually a welcome sign for Giaimo.
“The deals out at all the department stores are really good,” he said. “So, if people can turn in some broken jewelry or silver or other items they don’t need anymore in exchange for cash, then they can go out and take advantage of those deals.”
Tools are also popular to sell during the winter.
“They become a slow item in the winter,” Giaimo said. “This time a year, the industry is down. Contractors aren’t working as much. A lot of them have a tendency to sell off their tools and buy new ones in the spring.”
People aren’t just going into pawnshops to sell, Nolan said he sees an increase in customers buying items as well.
“A guy wants to buy his wife a pair of earrings, a lot would rather come here than to a jewelry store,” Nolan said. “They come here and avoid the mess at the malls, and get jewelry and electronics at a generally less expensive price.”
In Plaistow, pawnbrokers must hold on to all pawned items for 120 days before they can be resold.
“Usually, about 60 percent of people come back for their items,” Giaimo said. “That doesn’t really change with the time of year.”
In Derry, items only have to be held for 30 days.
“I’d say 85 percent of people come back for their items,” Nolan said. “I feel I’m more conservative than most. I have a lot of the same customers.”
Giaimo expects it to be busy right through the beginning of January.
“Occasionally, if someone gets something they don’t want for Christmas, then they’ll come back here and sell it,” he said.
While this month will still be among owners’ most profitable ones of the year, it will likely pale in comparison to past Decembers.
“I used to make $30,000 with jewelry alone in December about 10 years ago,” Nolan said. “Now, we’ll be lucky if we see 10 or 15 percent of that.”