Some furloughed government workers are left with nowhere to turn since they haven’t seen a paycheck. One place they’re heading is to pawn shops.
Business at Buster’s Pawn Shop has nearly doubled as the partial government shutdown drags through its fourth week.
“People come in and they’ve never been in a pawn shop,” said Owner Mark Vess. “They just don’t have anywhere else to turn. So stuff that’s been handed down, their heirlooms, and stuff they have of value, they’re coming in, they’re asking ‘how much I can get for this?'”
For some, that question is about meaningful items they probably never thought they’d have to part with.
“We began to explain how a pawn worked and everything and she took off her own wedding band to pawn it because the light bill has been the thing right now,” said Manager Angela Huffman. “You know, ‘my lights are gonna be turned off and I don’t have a paycheck.'”
That woman’s family came in later and got the ring back.
“It was kind of shocking to me just because of the emotions behind it because she really was hesitant about doing it but she really had no choice,” said Huffman.
Buster’s Pawn is offering 30 days without interest for furloughed workers. It’s one of many businesses in town giving discounts as employees struggle.
“He put a bunch of lawn equipment on layaway because he didn’t know if this was gonna last or not and he may have to go start his lawn care business back up,” Vess said about another customer.
The pawn shop has been around for 35 years and now Vess and Huffman want to help the community that’s kept the business alive.
“Letting the arsenal know that y’all are the heart of Huntsville and we’re here to support you in any way we can,” Huffman said.
People at First Baptist Church gave away the money they had for disaster relief. They gave more than $16 thousand dollars in grocery store vouchers to furloughed workers.