DENVER, May 31 (UPI) -- Online pawnbrokers in Colorado say they're trying to revamp the sordid image associated pawn shops and market their merchandise to wealthier customers.
"When people think of the pawnshops historically, they don't necessarily think of $100,000 pieces of jewelry," said George Souri, chief executive officer of UltraPawn. "But wealthy people, like everybody else, like a good deal."
Experts say people selling or pawning their items online are different than those selling to stores, The Denver Post reported.
"For the average person who wants a pawn loan, it's easier, quicker and simpler to go to their local shop," said Tim Lanham, a pawn-industry expert in Fort Collins. "[For] someone who wants discretion and a larger loan, perhaps $5,000 or more, an online pawn has some desirability."
"Ours is a different customer base entirely," said Todd Hills, CEO and founder of PawnGo in Centennial, which launched in 2009, becoming the first online pawnshop. "They are people used to being online, who bank, shop and live online. For them, it's a comfortable user experience."
There is still a question of regulation surrounding online pawn shops, The Denver Post said. In Colorado, most municipalities require fingerprints for each transaction to help police in tracking stolen items.
"That was the difficult challenge of the model, the trust. How do I trust that I'm not sending my valuable item into an Internet black hole?" Hill said.
Centennial passed the nation's first Internet-based pawnshop ordinance that mandates virtual pawnbrokers require digital signatures and electronic-identification verification for all pawns.
"Ultimately, it's the customer who has to decide the reputability of the business, whether online is as trustworthy as the store down the street or the next town over," Lanham said.