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Pawnbrokers see rise in business

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Looking back at the election of 2000, remember the talk about the "CEO President" who trashed every business he ever touched? Bush has consistently used other peoples money and then blown it. He's done such a bang up job this time, people in the largest economy are borrowing from pawnbrokers. What a country he's leaving.

There are as many as 15,000 pawnbrokers across the United States. As the U.S. recession deepens, pawnbrokers -- long seen as a lender of last resort -- are noting a rise in business.

No national body keeps statistics for the sector, but proprietors across the spectrum say they are thriving as home foreclosures spiral and bank credit remains scarce.

"Business is good," Mo Money owner Eric Baker said. The store, which makes loans on anything from a motor home to guns to lawnmowers and jewelry, says turnover is up by around 20 percent over a year ago on a broader range of clients.

"You are seeing some bigger stuff, you're seeing some people you probably wouldn't have seen," he said.

Newer clients include struggling contractors like Lane, as well as cash-strapped real estate, land and mortgage brokers, seeking loans, which are pegged by state law at 22 percent over 90 days.

"They are coming in with the houseboats, the quads, the Harleys... The toys they can live without, sitting in the garage," Baker said, sitting in his office at the store, where several of the staff have pistols holstered in their belts.

Across town, William Jachimek, a 25-year veteran of the trade, said cash-strapped mortgage brokers started coming in about a year ago and now account for 10 percent of business.

"We had one mortgage broker who pawned his wife's jewelry and their Viking oven," says the owner of five pawn shops who takes "everything that can be sold on E-bay" as collateral.

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