When most people’s thoughts turn toward a vacation holiday they think of resorts on sandy breaches, a Route 66 road trip, or perhaps Disneyland. But there are people that march to the tune of a different drummer, to borrow a though from 19th century philosopher Henry David Thoreau. They prefer to avoid the crush of crowds, and instead plan a different sort of holiday. And what could be more different than a vacation planned around visits to pawn shops?
Yes, you heard me right. Pawnshops are not just places where you can sell or buy used items. They are also treasure troves of history, culture and fascinating stories. In fact, some pawnshops are so interesting that they have become tourist attractions in their own right. Here are some of the world’s most fascinating pawnshops that you should visit if you ever get the chance.
1. Gold & Silver Pawn Shop, Las Vegas, Nevada
You might recognize this pawnshop from the popular TV show Pawn Stars. The owners and staff deal with all kinds of rare and valuable items, from ancient coins to celebrity memorabilia. It is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and has become a destination for thousands of visitors every year. You never know what you might find here, or who you might meet. Maybe you’ll even get to see one of the stars of the show in action.
2. Monte de Piedad, Madrid, Spain
This pawnshop is not only the oldest in Spain. It is also the largest in Europe. It was founded in 1702 by a priest who wanted to help the poor and prevent them from falling into the hands of loan sharks. Today, it is still a charitable institution that offers low-interest loans to people in need. But is also a museum that displays some of the most precious and interesting items that have been pawned over the centuries. As an example, recent displays included paintings by Goya and Velázquez, jewels from the Spanish royal family, and even a well worn guitar that belonged to Paco de Lucía.
3. Happy Hockers, Sydney, Australia
This pawnshop is famous for its quirky and eclectic collection of items, ranging from musical instruments to sports memorabilia to vintage toys. The owners are brothers who have a passion for collecting and trading unusual things. They also have a reality TV show called Pawn Stars Australia, where they showcase some of their most amazing deals and encounters with customers. If you’re looking for something fun and different to do in Sydney, this pawnshop is definitely worth a visit.
4. Mutsuura Hikawa Shrine Pawnshop Market, Yokohama, Japan
This pawnshop market is held every month at the Mutsuura Hikawa Shrine, which is dedicated to the god of commerce and wealth. Hundreds of vendors set up stalls around the shrine grounds. They sell all kinds of second-hand goods, from antiques to electronics and clothing. You can find some great bargains here, as well as some rare and unique items. It’s also a great place to experience the local culture and the atmosphere of Yokohama.
5. Dorotheum, Vienna, Austria
This pawnshop is actually an auction house that dates back to 1707. It is one of the oldest and largest auction houses in the world. Inventory often includes fine art, antiques, rare jewelry and even automobiles. You can browse through the catalogues online or visit the showroom in person to see some of the items on display. You can also bid online or in person during the auctions. Whether you’re looking for something specific or just curious about what’s on offer, this pawnshop is a must-see for anyone who loves art and history.
The Pawn World store in Kingman, Arizona may not be a vacation destination, yet. But we have the largest selection of new and used guns for sale iin northwestern Arizona. And we are also a coin shop, and electronics store, and a tool shop. What are you looking for?
Written by Jim Hinckley of Jim Hinckley’s America.