Americans Pawning Items to Buy Gas, Survive Inflation: Pawn Shop Owners

With gas prices continuing to put a strain on consumers nationwide, many Americans are turning to pawn shops for help.

Speaking with local news station Fox 34 News, Eilsel Garcia, owner of Pawn Texas in Lubbock, claimed that locals have increasingly turned to pawning off their personal possessions in order to afford gas. This has involved items like firearms, tools, computers, phones, video game consoles, and even items with sentimental value, like jewelry and inherited heirlooms.

"They're coming in and they're pawning their personal items to help them out and we're here to help them out," Garcia explained. "People have to go to work sometimes and this morning I had a customer come in and they were on 'E' and they pawned some personal items to help them out. So, they're really struggling. Sometimes it's an inheritance from their grandma or their mom or even a wedding ring."

Texas GOP Senator Ted Cruz commented on the Fox 34 report on Saturday and took a jab at President Joe Biden's economic policies, tweeting: "Americans are pawning personal items to pay for gas. Is this what Biden meant when he said, 'We're changing people's lives?'"

gas prices pawn shops
With gas prices continuing to put a strain on consumers nationwide, some are reportedly turning to pawn shops for help. Above, a representational shot of pawn shop signs. Oli Scarff/Getty Images

According to Gas Buddy, gas prices in Lubbock are currently hovering around $4.50 a gallon on average. In Texas overall, the average price is currently $4.66, according to the American Automobile Association (AAA), which is on the lower end of prices nationwide. The nationwide average is currently around $4.98 a gallon.

While many of these customers note their need to pay for gas because of their commutes to work, one customer spoke to Fox 34 about her need to pawn a pair of earbuds in order to travel for a family emergency.

"It's kind of dark, I gotta get home to see my grandma, she's probably not gonna make it," Caitlyn Patterson explained. "She's been in the hospital for a few days."

Reports have also emerged from the Dallas-Fort Worth area about increases in pawn shop business. Patrick Wade, owner of P&J Pawn in Dallas, spoke with NBC-DFW about the reasons why customers are selling their items.

"Gas and groceries are a daily occurrence," Wade explained. "I've got to feed my family. I can't get to work."

Wade and the operators of Pawn Texas said that while the number of customers has been skyrocketing in the face of inflation, sales are down, which is leaving an excess of unsold merchandise on their shelves.

"It is very unprecedented," Wade added. "We have more stuff coming in every day than we've ever seen. What we call pulls, that's when someone doesn't pay, that's increasing, which is reducing the cost of merchandise."

While prices remain high, consumers can expect a small relief soon, with gas prices set to take their first weekly dip since April. This, according to CBS News, comes as a result of falling fuel costs, and a drop in consumer demand with Memorial Day weekend now passed.