'Pawn Stars' Shop Hit Hard by COVID-19 Setbacks

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted every part of American society since first hitting the U.S. in March, and pawn shops are no exception — even the famous ones. As part of Vox's larger investigation into the pandemic's impact on pawn shops across the country, Andy Zimmerman, the general manager of Gold and Silver Pawn in Las Vegas, shown on the television show Pawn Stars, admitted that the Las Vegas scene has seen a sharp decline over the past several months.

"The way it’s turned out has been quite different than what we had anticipated, not only for us, but from some of the discussions we’ve had in other pawn stores in Las Vegas," Zimmerman said of Gold and Silver Pawn's business. It doesn't come down to just stimulus money or savings, casino traffic's downturn has also been a nail in the coffin for pawn businesses in Vegas, which see a lot of gamblers pawning items for money to hit the tables with.

"When we’re at normal times ... especially when big events happen in town and people are well-to-do, they have expensive jewelry, and they’re not very lucky at the tables. Because we have a pretty decent-sized bandwidth to take in expensive items, during those times, the loans would typically pick up,” he said.

Rob Barnett, who grew up working at his parents' pawn shop before opening his own in Fayetteville, Tennessee, explained to Vox of the downturn for pawn shops amid the pandemic, "A pawn shop tends to do best when the economy is good and rolling and people feel safe and secure with pawning their extra item — a laptop, jewelry, television, a watch — something like that so they can just get the temporary loan because they know they’ve got their next payroll check coming."

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Amid months of failed negotiations between Republicans and Democrats in Congress on the next stimulus package, hopes for a bipartisan relief deal are growing as a growing number of lawmakers on both sides have thrown their support behind a new $908 billion spending bill that would aim to support failing parts of the economy over the next several months, including President-elect Joe Biden.

"We had a good conversation," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told the Washington Post Thursday after his meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). "I think we’re both interested in getting an outcome, both on the [spending bill] and on a coronavirus package."