ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Signs of an economic turnaround are showing up at some Georgia pawn shops.
They're often a good indicator of economic prosperity because many people use them like banks for loans or cash advances.
For the last year, pawn shop owners say most of their customers have been pawning items to get quick cash. There's still a lot of that happening, but store owners say they're starting to more shoppers looking for bargains on items many would consider luxuries.
A big crowd of customers were doing business at Albany's Dawson Road Jewelry and Pawn.
"We have seen an increase in the amount of traffic coming through," Owner Jason Sheffield said.
A large number of customers spending money has been rare during the recession. Most of their customers have been pawning their items to get by.
"Needing money to get through the week, to make it to next week's paycheck. Then you got some people who might run across hard times in their business," Sheffield said.
But in recent weeks Sheffield is seeing more people like Nick Coalson shopping, looking for a bargain in a hunting rifle.
"Better deal than retail. Lot better deal. A lot of times a pawn shop you can get stuff 50 percent less than retail. Try to save a little bit of money," Coalson said.
Sheffield says lots more people have been in his store buying jewelry, guns, and electronics, what he considers luxury items, but people are still looking for a good deal.
"More people are coming in looking for a better way to spend their money. And maybe trying to find a way for their dollar to stretch a little more," Sheffield said.
Many people are still pawning items. Some shops have become more selective, taking only the newest and best name brand items. But store owners say the increase of customers spending money is the first positive economic sign they have seen in months.
Sheffield told us his store's redemption rate has been close to 70% recently, meaning most people are able to pay back their loans and recover their pawned items.