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SWFL pawnshops say they’re essential during coronavirus pandemic

Pawnshop owners in Lee County are working to stay open during the coronavirus pandemic. One owner we spoke to explains how pawnshops serve as essential businesses during this health crisis.

Pawnshop owners say they are an avenue for others during desperate times.

“We’re always here to help everybody,” said Eric Solomon, the owner of First Pawn Jewelry & Loan.

Solomon explained the increase he had at his business not too long ago.

“About three weeks ago, firearms sales really started to click on,” Solomon said.

And Robert Suci, the owner of Midtown Pawn & Jewelry, said he say customers increasingly come into his shop for game consoles.

“A lot of PlayStations and Xbox because people have nothing to do,” Suci said.

So some Southwest Florida pawn shops are staying busy during the coronavirus pandemic.

As part of the USA PATRIOT Act of 2001, the Treasury Department defines pawnbrokers as a ‘financial institution’, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security considers financial institutions an ‘essential service’.

“We all know quite a few people work literally to pick up their paycheck, and they need that next paycheck,” Solomon said. “And, when it’s not there, there are little to no resources available.”

Solomon says people are already coming into his shop for some quick cash.

“They look for some sort of, ‘OK, where is my next step going to come from?” Solomon said. “‘How can I cover the food bill, the light bill, the mortgage, the car payment?’”

Suci says his business hasn’t had that influx yet but believes it’s coming.

“I think a lot of people with the timing of the tax returns, getting them in March and the talk of the stimulus checks and that help, people are probably holding off as a last resort before they come in,” Suci said.

Suci at Midtown Pawn & Jewelry says he’s locking his doors and only letting one customer in at a time. Solomon at First Pawn Jewelry & Loan is installing plastic dividers at his counters.

Reporter:Taylor Petras
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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