Tuesday, July 14, 2009 | 2 a.m.
Glen Parshall has been the manager of the gun and coin section of the locally owned Bargain Pawn, at 1901 Las Vegas Blvd. North, for the past 4 1/2 years and in the pawn business for 28 years. It’s his second career, he says, his first being aerospace research, where he worked on the MX missile and the space shuttle. Parshall left the industry, he says, because he couldn’t stand living in California, surrounded by Californians.
Why are there so few locally owned pawnshops left?
You can’t just come into Clark County and open a new pawnshop. You have to buy a preexisting license and they have gotten really expensive as a consequence. Big, out-of-state chains have the money to buy the licenses and they buy in bulk.
How’s business in the recession?
Parts of it are up and parts of it are down. Right now people are offering lots of tools, but we don’t really take them because, unlike a couple of years ago, no one’s building and no one’s buying tools. Gold is the constant in the business and it’s up. Diamonds are down. Guns are way up. People tend to buy more guns in a downturn because they’re worried about crime. You combine that with the foolishness that got elected last November and it’s a perfect storm for gun sales.
Have the customers changed?
We’re seeing a whole lot less people who are going out to gamble. Now we’re seeing people just trying to pay their mortgages and their power bills.
What were the gamblers like?
There was one gal who was in and out of the shop nine times in one day. It was her day off and she was playing the slots. She’d win and she’d come in and get it back, then she’d lose and bring it back.
What’s the nicest thing you’ve ever handled?
One of John Wayne’s pistols from “The Shootist.” Inanimate objects shouldn’t have life but that one had a definite aura.
What’s the strangest thing anyone’s ever brought in to pawn?
I had one customer who kept getting loans off a set of false teeth. Now, they were antique false teeth, so there was some value there. I had one guy ask if we took objects of value and I said we did and he produced a bag of white powder. He couldn’t understand why we wouldn’t make a loan on his cocaine. We get all kinds. People bring in birds or snakes. A lot of time, people will try dropping off their kids or wives, but we don’t take anything that eats or excretes. People will offer prosthetic limbs, things that have no value to anyone but themselves. One time a co-worker took a set of used sheets. I don’t know why. I think we gave them to Goodwill.