As Adi Kayed worked in his electronics, jewelry and gold and silver shop last week, he noted the coronavirus pandemic has caused sales to increase in one particular area of his inventory.
That area is electronics — TVs and other similar products — as people have been cooped up indoors due to the current stay-at-home order.
“It’s been a little hectic,” said Kayed, co-owner of Jewelry and Electronics Exchange in Frederick and Gold and Silver Exchange in Hagerstown. “All the things that have been needed to keeping people inside, have been flying off the shelves.”
Peter McDonald, owner of Frederick Jewelry and Loan, also said electronics sales are up, especially versus jewelry and other items in his shop.
McDonald, whose business also operates as a pawn shop, said the spring and summer months are typically slower for pawning items, as people typically retrieve their items. Federal stimulus checks due to the coronavirus have also lowered that type of activity, he added, except for people using the money to retrieve their pawned items.
“Actual pawning has been non-existent,” McDonald said.
Cole’s Pawnbrokers Outlet, a longtime pawn shop in downtown Frederick, temporarily closed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
An answering machine at that business states that Cole’s is closed until further notice and a forgiveness policy is in effect for items pawned before the store closed. Notices on the store’s windows read the store closed as of March 23.
“Items that are overdue have not been put up for sale ... hopefully, we’ll get through this together,” part of the recorded message states.
Although McDonald and Kayed have stayed open, they said they’re both taking precautions due to the pandemic: sanitizing high-traffic areas, limiting the number of people in their shops and encouraging social distancing.
Kayed said he’s not buying as many items as he used to: if the item looks dirty or there’s a remote chance it could have the virus, he’s holding off. And McDonald said a traditional activity at pawn shops has been discouraged.
“People need to be safe, so we don’t encourage people to come in and just browse,” McDonald said.
Although pawning or selling items hasn’t been active at some area shops, another economic activity has seen some increased activity: selling gold, silver and other precious metals.
Robbie Smith, retail manager of Frederick Coin Exchange, said the coin store is physically closed but they have seen an increase in people selling metals to the store through the mail.
Worldwide, financial markets have collapsed, leading to an increase of value for them, Smith said. There hasn’t been “purchasing over the counter” transactions, but the store will buy gold, silver or other precious metals that people have.
“With us being a larger business, we’re able to fortunately be open for selling,” Smith said.
The activity of selling items — helping people obtain money quickly — is one purpose of pawn shops and other similar businesses, McDonald said.
“We’re here to help people with money, and help people to get their stuff back right now,” he said.