Desperate for Cash

Groton pawnbroker says everybody wants to sell

In his nine years as a pawnbroker on Poquonnock Avenue in Groton, Sal Guarnaccia of USA Pawn says he hasn't seen times as hard as they are now.

"This is the first time we've ever seen it this bad," he said. "The other day a girl came in with a 1978 black and white TV, wanting to sell it.   Another fellow came in this morning with a VCR and no remote.   We sell 'em for five dollars and he wanted ten."

"Then there was a woman who came in with broken skis," he said. "She wanted fifty dollars.  I told her I couldn't use them."

The shop's shelves sag with items he thought someone could use, from guitars to chainsaws, from DVDs to drills.

"People go into home business," said Charlie Allen, a retired Groton fire department captain involved in USA Pawn. "They buy a bunch of stuff.  They don't make out too well.  They come down here, and they sell it to us or pawn it."

A customer pawns a good to a pawnshop for thirty days in return for a loan with twenty percent interest.  If the loan's not repaid, the item goes up for sale to the public.  Or people can sell goods outright to the pawn broker, who hopes for an immediate resale.  But not many people are buying.

"Hard times are hard on everybody," said Allen. "You have to have people to buy things to make a pawn shop work.  The people that sell, it's gotta be something that's desirable for somebody else to buy."

"There's no money around at all," said Guarnaccia. "People are really in debt.  And they're bringing in everything they possibly can.  We got no more room, brand new TVs, brand new tool sets."

One woman who was buying a bag of videos admitted when she desperately needs cash, she'll pawn something.

"I don't use it that often," said Priscilla Kazeniewski of Groton. "But I mean, when I do it comes in handy for gas, for food for the table, for the kids, you know?" 

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