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8 Misconceptions About Running A Pawn Shop

Moorheads Exchange station

Photos by J. Alan Paul

When it comes to pawn shops, most people’s minds go to what they see on TV shows like “Pawn Stars.” But that’s not always realistic, says Ken Martin, who’s owned Moorhead’s Exchange Station for more than 35 years. Martin talks misconceptions about pawn shops and some of the most interesting items he’s seen brought into his store over the years.

Ken Martin is the owner of the Exchange Station, a pawn shop he opened in Moorhead more than 35 years ago.

1. Hold periods

“Most people don’t understand that we hold purchased items for a minimum of 30 days and loans for a minimum of 60 days. This helps calm the newcomer’s worry that items may be stolen.”

2. We don’t buy stolen items.

“We deter it with the requirement of photo ID and by taking an actual picture of the customer pawning the item. Coupled with our video recording of the entire transaction and signed pawn ticket, very few people even attempt it.”

3. We don’t buy broken items.

“We do our best to test each product that comes in the door. Then, we guarantee most products for 30 days.”

4. We all borrow money in many different forms.

“Mortgage for a house, financing for a car, credit cards for emergencies or Christmas shopping — it’s time to stop looking at pawn stores as a ‘lower’ form of borrowing money.

“Most pawn stores have honest, clear terms to show how much it will cost to pay back what you borrow. Pawn stores are the original lender. If you decide not to repay the loan, we just keep the collateral while still welcoming you back if you ever need to borrow again. No harm, no foul.”

5. It’s not anything like what you see on TV!

“Gone is the image of old Hollywood. We have a large, bright, welcoming atmosphere.

“Nor is it anything like current reality TV. We loan on or buy mostly modern, standard consumer goods: jewelry, electronics, musical instruments and tools that you may be looking to buy on a daily basis. We still have some unique items thrown in, though, such as a 50-year-old steel guitar.”

6. We don’t just sell used goods.

“We sell new furniture, as well as electronic, audio and music accessories.”

7. It’s confidential.

“We don’t give out any of your information over the phone without your permission, and you may also request that we meet in a private setting to keep our discussion of the transaction private and confidential.”

8. More than just a pawn shop.

“The Exchange Station is also where we house our office for MIG Self Storage and MIG Properties.”

Unique Items Martin Has Seen in Store

Moorhead's Exchange Station
1973 red Cadillac convertible
Moorhead's Exchange Station
Taxidermy on animals such as a watusi, crocodile, bison and cougar
Moorhead's Exchange Station
More than 400 guns
Moorhead's Exchange Station
Prosthetic leg
Moorhead's Exchange Station
Nearly 30,000 albums obtained from a storage unit
Moorhead's Exchange Station
Antique toys
Moorhead's Exchange Station
Jewelry, old and new

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Written by Sam Herder

Sam Herder is a North Dakota State journalism graduate where he worked at the campus newspaper, The Spectrum, as the sports editor and eventual editor-in-chief from 2012-2015. He was a sports reporter in the newspaper industry for two years after graduation before returning to Fargo as the content strategist at Spotlight Media.

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