Saugerties pawnshop meets growing demand

Photo by Will Dendis

Before the economy went south, and reality television shows became all the thing, pawn shops were looked upon as not such savory places, where crooks would go to fence stolen goods, and lower socio-economic individuals would go to “hock a watch” for money.

Pawnshops were also, for the most part, located in “seedy neighborhoods.” Not anymore.

Pawnshops have become a part of life where folks from all across the economic strata go to part with unwanted jewelry, or borrow money against family heirlooms in order to meet bills or pay the mortgage.

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In Saugerties, the local pawnshop is located in the From Europe to You antique shop at 2910 Route 9W. It’s that cool-looking store with the giant statues standing outside.

“People are starting to find us,” said Chris Forcelli, manager of the Saugerties Hudson Valley Pawnbrokers’ shop.

Hudson Valley Pawnbrokers also has locations in New Windsor, and Middletown.

Forcelli’s uncle Joseph Bailey is friends with the owners of Hudson Valley Pawnbrokers. He joined with them to open the pawnshop in a portion of his antique store.

Pawnbrokers still operate as they have for hundreds of years: someone brings in a prized possession and uses it as collateral to borrow money. The pawnbroker will lend the individual money on the spot, no waiting for approval like when borrowing money from a bank, Bailey said. The amount loaned will depend on the value of the item being used for collateral, he added.

Interest rates on the loan are on a sliding scale, but for the most part are 4 percent. Forcelli said the individual has four months to reclaim their collateral and pay back the loan and interest.

If the individual does not come back for the item, it becomes the property of the pawnbroker, who then offers it for sale in the pawnshop.

Pawnbrokers will also straight-out purchase items from folks looking to sell their prized possession for money, especially jewelry.

“We’ll pay you more money for your gold jewelry then any jewelry store in town will,” said Bailey.

And for anyone looking to buy jewelry, from diamond engagement rings, to wedding rings, and watches, the pawnshop will sell it for far less than traditional jewelry stores. “They mark up their jewelry by 200 to 400 percent,” Forcelli said.

“You buy it here, and you’ll save more than 100 percent,” Bailey added.

But buying items and loaning money aren’t the only things the pawnbrokers do. In the case of the Saugerties Hudson Valley Pawnbrokers, they also clean out churches that are closing.

If you’re in the market for a baptismal font, or some gilded candleholders, a lectern, or other items from a recently cleaned out church in Pennsylvania that was closing – then the 9W location has what you’re looking for.

In addition to the church items, there are also guitars, tools, and furniture.

And while legitimate pawnbrokers won’t do business with thieves, it doesn’t stop the ne’er do wells from trying.

Bailey and Forcelli said when they first opened in January, “a bunch of kids came in trying to sell tools they had stolen.”

“We don’t do business that way,” Bailey said.

When someone wants to sell an item or borrow money using an item as collateral, the shop owners make a printed copy of their photo ID, and a photocopy of the item. Every now and then the local police will come in and look through the book to see if they can spot any items that may have been recently stolen.

“We work closely with the police,” Bailey said.

So if you are looking to spend an hour looking at some pretty cool stuff that people have “hocked” or want to buy something at a price far below retail, or are in need of some extra cash and want to borrow money, stop by the Hudson Valley Pawnbrokers. It’s an educational experience.

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