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The pawnshop industry is growing. In 2007, there were approximately 6,400 pawn shops nation-wide. Now there are over 10,000. The expansion in pawnshops is fed, in part, by the increased number of Americans with tarnished credit which often bars them from the mainstream financial system. This article explains some of the niche services now offered by pawn shops.

1. Why can’t pawnshops officially be banks? Are there any differences between the operations of banks and the chain, Pawn America?
2. Why have pawnshops evolved into “the poor man’s bank,” as the article termed it?
3. What are the costs and benefits of financial transactions through a pawn shop?

Clifford, S. and J. Silver-Greenberg. (2013) Platinum Card and Text Alert, via Pawnshop. The New York Times, August 24 (Retrievable online at