November 14, 2018
Photo by KAREN HAYNES
Guitars line the walls in Main Street Pawnbrokers in Cambridge on Sept. 26.

A drum set, old DVDs, guitars and jewelry fill the shelves in Main Street Pawnbrokers.

The pawn shop, at 130 Main St. in Cambridge, has been family owned and operated for 13 years. Maurice (Moe) Belanger, originally from Montreal, runs the Cambridge store.

The pawn shop’s shelves are predominantly stocked with electronic items, such as flat screen TVs, blue-ray DVD players and cameras, while a variety of guitars line the walls. According to Belanger, the strangest item in the store is a rare six- and 12-stringed electric bass guitar.

“It’s precise and well made,” Belanger said. The guitar’s price tag is $495.

While traffic in and out of the pawn shop varies between 20 and 60 people per day, the number of items sold to and from the shop is similarly broad, according to Belanger. Also, alternative methods of buying and selling items available to the general public, such as Kijiji, has not had a significant impact on Main Street Pawnbrokers, he said.

According to Belanger, guests who are buying from or selling to Main Street Pawnbrokers are not usually concerned with Kijiji as an optional site where they can complete their transaction.

Having only limited experience with Kijiji, Marc Pothier, a second-year RPN student at Conestoga College, said he’s never been inside a pawn shop. Yet, he believes any stigma surrounding these shops has been largely dispelled.

“They’re regulated,” said Pothier. This makes it difficult for people to steal things and then sell them, he said.

Each municipality has its own bylaw surrounding pawn stores, Belanger said. “Cambridge, Kitchener and Waterloo have the same bylaw.”

Individuals pawning an item must comply with three rules. First, each individual must be 18 years old. Second, each individual must provide two valid pieces of photo identification. Thirdly, all items must be held for 15 days from its purchase date for “police purposes,” he said.

Holding all items for 15 days allows police the opportunity to identify a match between newly pawned items and recently stolen goods, Belanger said.

It takes time to develop a strong intuition when recognizing someone who has brought a stolen item into the shop, he said. “After 13 years, you can tell. If you ask the right questions and they give you the wrong answers, you know what to do.”

When it’s obvious an item has been stolen, we simply don’t buy it, Belanger said. “We discreetly say no thank you.”

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