Economy fails to slow profits for pawn shop

By Erik Allgood

As devastating as the recession has been, it has not affected everyone equally.

Leonard’s Pawn Shop, 112 E. University Ave. in Champaign, has not seen a decrease in business since the recession, said owner Ron Bryant. This is because the business caters to low-income patrons who he said are not a…As devastating as the recession has been, it has not affected everyone equally.

Leonard’s Pawn Shop, 112 E. University Ave. in Champaign, has not seen a decrease in business since the recession, said owner Ron Bryant. This is because the business caters to low-income patrons who he said are not affected by changes in the economy.

“My customers say that they are pawning things because of the economy,” Bryant said. “But these same people were in here pawning stuff two years ago.”

Bryant said that the record high price of gold has been good for business.

“We have had people bringing in a lot more gold than usual,” Bryant said. “It’s going for $1,000 an ounce.”

Cindy Warner, an unemployed Champaign resident, came into the store to pawn a generic MP3 player.

“I’m just trying to make a little extra cash,” Warner said. “It has nothing to do with the economy.”

Bryant said having the same people come in again and again is what supports his business.

Bryant said the recession has not had much of an effect on Champaign County because businesses receive traffic through the University. If the recession worsens, it could have an effect in a year or so but it hasn’t yet, he said.

The economy aside, some people go to pawn shops because they offer cheap merchandise.

Brandon Jones, University graduate student, works for a domestic violence clinic near Leonard’s Pawn Shop and decided to see if he could find a digital camera there.

“I don’t buy high ticket items unless I know it’s a deal,” Brandon said. “I came here seeing if I could find it cheap.”

But when it comes down to it, business has been as good as usual, Bryant said.

“The customers we get are poor when the economy is good and poor when the economy is bad,” Bryant said.

Dallas and Co., a costume and magic store, located at 101 E. University Ave., is right across the street from Leonard’s Pawn Shop. Andy Dallas, the owner, believes that his business has been affected by the economic downturn.

Still, he said he was thinking in positive terms. Although people might be inclined to spend less money at his store, there are other ways that everything balances out, he said.

“I cater to magicians,” Dallas said. “When people are losing money because of the economy, formerly career-oriented people buy things here and become amateur magicians so they can entertain kids’ birthday parties for $50 a piece.”

Dallas said having devoted customers who come back during certain holidays makes up most of the store’s revenue.

“Local businesses are doing fine as far as I know,” Bryant said, “You still have to wait half an hour to get a seat in a decent restaurant.”