Bangkok pawn shops: alive and well
published : 30 Apr 2012 at 10:37
writer: Terry Fredrickson
The neighbourhood pawnshop, where residents can get loans in exchange for valuables, is still doing a very good business in Bangkok.
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Customers wait their turn at a pawn shop in the Klong Toey area. Many pawn shops have reported an increase in customers as living costs increase. PAWAT LAOPAISARNTAKSIN
For many, pawn pays the bills
Rising costs are forcing some to trade in their valuables
The rapid rise in credit card use, hire-purchase and personal loans has played a key role in the growth of consumerism across the country.
But some eschew the modern siren call of "buy now, pay later" in favour of an older source of credit – their neighbourhood pawn shop.
For nearly three decades, pawn shops operated by the city have served residents seeking emergency funds or a convenient place to shed their old goods.
Pawn shop operators say business has jumped in recent weeks, reflecting the rise in living expenses and parents raising funds to cover expenses for the new school term.
Boonsong Fugthim, manager of a pawn shop in Klong Toey, says gold is the most common asset brought in.
Business over the past week has risen by about 10% from normal, he said, with two to three baht-weight in gold ornaments pledged each day.
"Many customers walk in and complain that food and everything else is more expensive. But what can you do about it?" Mr Boonsong asked.
One 23-year-old student from Si Sa Ket was waiting patiently at the counter to reclaim a gold necklace she pawned in February to help cover tuition expenses for her undergraduate course.
Another customer, Tik, who works as an administration official at a private school, said: "Since the beginning of the year, I really feel that everything is more expensive.
"Before, 200 or 300 baht might have been enough for food to last me the entire week. Now, I might spend that much in just one or two days.
"My apartment recently raised rent to 5,300 baht per month from 4,900 baht, and electricity prices are rising as well.
"When I asked the landlord why he was raising rent, he only said that everything is more expensive now."
Tik said her employer has already promised to raise her salary to 12,000 baht per month from 8,800 baht in the near future.
"But I don't think it will help cover the increases in living expenses. I really feel that the economy was better before."
Nearby, Sujitra, a 51-year-old housewife, nodded her head in agreement, and expressed sorrow about how life has changed from the past.
"Every three days I have to spend 500 baht for milk for my one-year-old nephew," she said. "Nappies cost more still."
Mrs Sujitra said costs upcountry have risen as well. "Food is very expensive," she said.
"Nowadays you need money for everything, not like in the past when you could grow fruits and vegetables for free."
It seems nearly everyone has a complaint about food prices.
"Last year, you could buy cooking oil for 29 baht per bottle. Now it's 50 baht – and that's only if you can actually find any for sale," 71-year-old Suwanee Klongpopsuk said.
A pawn shop regular, she visited the Klong Toey store to reclaim three baht-weight of gold that she pledged two years ago, which she plans to sell elsewhere to help finance her grandchildren's university studies.
"I like pawn shops. The interest rates are low and the payment terms are quite flexible," Mrs Suwanee said.
Like everyone else in the store, she said prices have jumped in recent months, particularly for food.
"I'd like to tell the government that letting prices to rise so fast isn't good."
turn – the time when somebody in a group of people should or is allowed to do something à¹à¸à¸à¸²à¸ª
pawn shop – a business that lends money in exchange for items left with them. If the money is not paid back by a particular time, the pawnbroker can sell the item à¹à¸£à¸à¸£à¸±à¸à¸à¸³à¸à¸³
trade – to exchange something that you have for something else à¹à¸¥à¸à¹à¸à¸¥à¸µà¹à¸¢à¸
valuables – small possessions that are worth a lot of money, for example jewellery à¸à¸à¸à¸¥à¹à¸³à¸à¹à¸²
credit – an arrangement that you make, with a shop/store for example, to pay later for something you buy à¸à¸²à¸£à¸à¸·à¹à¸à¹à¸à¸·à¹à¸
hire-purchase – a method of buying expensive goods in which you pay small regular amounts of money until you have paid the whole amount. The American word is installment plan à¸à¸²à¸£à¹à¸à¹à¸²à¸à¸·à¹à¸
loan – an amount of money that a person, business, or country borrows, especially from a bank à¹à¸à¸´à¸à¸à¸¹à¹
key – very important à¸à¸µà¹à¸ªà¸³à¸à¸±à¸
role – the purpose or influence of someone or something in a particular situation à¸à¸à¸à¸²à¸
consumer – someone who buys and uses goods and services à¸à¸¹à¹à¸à¸£à¸´à¹à¸ à¸
consumerism – the practice buying things, especially more and more of them
eschew – to deliberately avoid or keep away from something à¸«à¸¥à¸à¹à¸¥à¸µà¹à¸¢à¸
siren call – the temptation/desire to do something that seems very attractive but that may have bad results
in favour of – preferring to choose someone or something that you believe is better
source – the place/person/organisation from which you get something à¹à¸«à¸¥à¹à¸
neighbourhood – a particular area of a city or town à¸¥à¸°à¹à¸§à¸, à¸¢à¹à¸²à¸
decade – a period of ten years à¸à¸¨à¸§à¸£à¸£à¸©
operate – to carry out an activity like running a business à¸à¸³à¹à¸à¸´à¸à¸à¸²à¸£
residents – people who live in a particular area à¸à¸£à¸°à¸à¸²à¸à¸à¸à¸µà¹à¸à¸²à¸¨à¸±à¸¢à¹à¸à¸à¹à¸à¸à¸à¸µà¹
emergency – an unexpected situation in which immediate action is necessary à¹à¸«à¸à¸¸à¸à¸¸à¸à¹à¸à¸´à¸
funds – money needed or available to spend on something à¹à¸à¸´à¸à¸à¸¸à¸
convenient – easy to do, or not causing problems or difficulties à¸ªà¸°à¸à¸§à¸
shed – to get rid of something that is no longer wanted à¸à¸´à¹à¸
goods – things that are produced to be sold; possessions that can be moved à¸ªà¸´à¸à¸à¹à¸², à¸ªà¸´à¹à¸à¸à¸à¸
reflect – to show à¸ªà¸°à¸à¹à¸à¸ à¹à¸ªà¸à¸à¸à¸¶à¸
school term – one of the periods of time into which the year is divided for students à¸ à¸²à¸à¹à¸£à¸µà¸¢à¸
asset – a thing of value à¸ªà¸´à¹à¸à¸à¸µà¹à¸¡à¸µà¸à¸¸à¸à¸à¹à¸²
normal – typical, usual or ordinary; what you would expect à¸ à¸²à¸§à¸°à¸à¸à¸à¸´
ornament – a small attractive object used for decoration à¹à¸à¸£à¸·à¹à¸à¸à¸à¸£à¸°à¸à¸±à¸à¸à¸£à¸°à¸à¸²
pledge – to leave a sum of money or something valuable with somebody to prove that you will do something or pay back money that you owe à¸§à¸²à¸à¸¡à¸±à¸à¸à¸³
patient – able to wait for a long time without becoming angry or upset à¸à¸à¸à¸
reclaim – to take back something that was yours à¹à¸£à¸µà¸¢à¸à¸à¸¥à¸±à¸à¸à¸·à¸, à¹à¸à¸²à¸à¸¥à¸±à¸
necklace – a piece of jewellery consisting of a chain, string of beads, etc. worn around the neck à¸ªà¸£à¹à¸à¸¢à¸à¸
tuition expenses (fees) – money paid to attend classes à¸à¹à¸²à¹à¸¥à¹à¸²à¹à¸£à¸µà¸¢à¸
undergraduate – of a student who is studying for a first degree at a college or university à¹à¸à¸µà¹à¸¢à¸§à¸à¸±à¸à¸à¸±à¸à¸¨à¸¶à¸à¸©à¸²à¸à¸£à¸´à¸à¸à¸²à¸à¸£à¸µ
entire – including everything, everyone or every part à¸à¸±à¹à¸à¸«à¸¡à¸
rent – paying money for the use of something for a period of time à¸à¹à¸²à¹à¸à¹à¸²
landlord – a person or organisation that owns a building or an area of land and is paid by other people for the use of it à¹à¸à¹à¸²à¸à¸à¸à¸à¸µà¹à¸à¸´à¸
employer – a person, company, or organisation that pays someone to work for them as a member of their staff à¸à¸²à¸¢à¸à¹à¸²à¸
salary – a fixed amount of money that you earn each month or year from your job à¹à¸à¸´à¸à¹à¸à¸·à¸à¸
nod – to move the head down and up to show agreement, approval or greeting à¸à¸à¸à¸¨à¸£à¸µà¸©à¸°à¸£à¸±à¸, à¹à¸ªà¸à¸à¸à¸²à¸à¸²à¸£à¸£à¸±à¸à¸£à¸¹à¹
sorrow – great sadness à¸à¸§à¸²à¸¡à¹à¸¨à¸à¸ªà¸¥à¸ à¸à¸§à¸²à¸¡à¹à¸¨à¸£à¹à¸²à¹à¸¨à¸
nephew – a son of your brother or sister, or a son of your husband’s or wife’s brother or sister à¸«à¸¥à¸²à¸à¸à¸²à¸¢
nappies – a piece of soft cloth or other thick material that is folded around a baby's bottom and between its legs to absorb and hold its body waste
upcountry – areas outside of the Bangkok area; connected with an area of a country that is not near large towns à¸à¹à¸²à¸à¸à¸±à¸à¸«à¸§à¸±à¸, à¸à¸µà¹à¸à¸¢à¸¹à¹à¹à¸à¸à¸à¸à¸, à¸à¸µà¹à¸à¸¢à¸¹à¹à¸«à¹à¸²à¸à¹à¸à¸¥à¸à¸²à¸à¹à¸¡à¸·à¸à¸
complaint – when someone says that something is wrong or not satisfactory à¸à¸²à¸£à¸à¹à¸, à¸à¹à¸à¸à¸µà¹à¹à¸¡à¹à¸à¸à¹à¸
regular – normal; following a pattern, especially with the same time and space in between each thing and the next à¸à¸à¸à¸´
finance – to provide money for something à¸à¸±à¸à¸«à¸²à¹à¸à¸´à¸à¸à¸¸à¸à¹à¸«à¹
interest rate – the percentage that a bank or other financial company charges you when you borrow money, or the percentage it pays you when you keep money in an account à¸à¸±à¸à¸£à¸²à¸à¸à¸à¹à¸à¸µà¹à¸¢
terms – conditions; requirements à¸à¹à¸à¸à¸³à¸«à¸à¸
flexible – able to change to suit new conditions or situations à¹à¸à¸¥à¸µà¹à¸¢à¸à¹à¸à¸¥à¸à¹à¸à¹,à¹à¸à¹à¹à¸à¹
particularly – especially, or more than usual à¹à¸à¸¢à¹à¸à¸à¸²à¸°
- Thai pawn shops