The Pawn Industry
The pawn industry is an old industry with a history of more than a thousand years. Today, there are still about 180 pawnshops in Hong Kong, although the operating mode has not changed much, the market environment and operations details have changed a lot.
TSUI Chun-pong is a teacher who studied history, and he is very interested in pawn culture. In order to collect information, not only has he visited all the pawnshops in Hong Kong, but he also pawned things at all of them, so that he could talk with the pawners and learn more about the things in the pawn industry.
Alvin and James are two post-90s pawnshop keepers. Like other current pawnshops, after they took over, many electronic technologies were introduced to assist in the operation. For instance, they use computers to record all the transactions, and the calligraphy of “pawn shop characters” on pawn tickets are replaced by the clear characters printed by printers. Although those are “new style” pawn shops, some old designs, such as the concealing board and the six-foot-high solid wood counter are still used today for practical purposes.
“Pawn fans in winter, pawn blankets in summer”, in the past, pawnshops would accept many different kinds of items, so a lot of room had to be reserved for storage, and certain amount of manpower was required to operate the business. Most modern pawnshops, however, only accept gold accessories, diamonds and expensive watches, such that two or three safes are enough to store all the pawned items, and the manpower required can also be greatly reduced. Barry is Ray’s mentor, and they are the pawners of another pawn shop. As they are both in charge of the pawnshop, Barry is trying his best to pass on his knowledge to meet the actual operational needs. This is completely different from the master-student relationship in the past, reflecting that there are more opportunities for promotion in the industry than before, and promotion is also faster.
During the past century, the pawn industry has been changing silently, adapting to the challenges brought about by changes in the social environment.