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MADISON, Ala. (WHNT) — A North Alabama pawn shop owner is seeing an increase in the number of people coming into the store to sell their goods.

“The price of fuel, and groceries, the cost of living has become a problem,” said Ryan Chaney, the owner of Chaney’s Gold & Silver.

Chaney said he’s seeing an increase in the number of people coming in looking to sell their metals for cash.

“There’s been a substantial uptick in business over the last year and a half,” he said. He said he’s also noticing a difference in the situations his customers are in.

“Prior to the pandemic and the economy, were more people who had just recently gone through a divorce or had a death in the family,” he said. “I’m seeing more people now who are doing it for more economic reasons.” He said inflation and stagnant salaries are contributing factors.

“I’ve had multiple customers that have come in, in the last few weeks talking about how they were very comfortable a few years ago, financially,” he said. “[they] aren’t making any more money now, but with the loss of purchasing power of money it’s created a situation where they’re making less, even though they are making the same amount.”

Chaney said people are bringing in more items with sentimental value, that they really don’t want to sell. Everything from watches, necklaces, and even family heirlooms.

“They are selling it almost as a last resort,” he said. “I’m increasingly seeing people come in with items they don’t want to sell. Grandmother’s wedding ring, not something that they wear necessarily, but something that they know does have monetary value, but also has a tremendous amount of sentimental value.”

He said they look at three factors when determining the value of a precious metal: “Purity, weight, and spot price.”

“We go through all three of those factors with every customer to try and help give them all the tools they need to make a good decision,” Chaney said.

“Our job is not to talk anyone into purchasing or selling anything, it’s to give them the information they need to make a good decision.”

Chaney said people may feel a shame or a stigma when it comes to selling at “cash for gold” type places, but he said they try and be as upfront with people as possible.