BEST PAWNSHOP (1999)
One doesn't usually think of pawnshops as clean, well-lighted places, but at Pawn America, they are. The locally based chain is working not just to succeed in business, but to remake the pawnshop as a secondhand superstore where you can buy goods almost-as-good-as-new for a fraction of the retail cost. Inside you'll find stacks of VCRs, TVs, CD and tape players, portable boomboxes, power tools, chain saws, cellular phones, bicycles, archer's bows, guitars, keyboards, amplifiers, jewelry, baseball cars, golf clubs, DVD players, video cameras, and maybe a sax or two. They've got plenty of CDs and videos priced to move, too, and the selection might surprise you: Yeah, there are more copies of Hootie & the Blowfish's first album than you'll ever need, but dig a little and you could find some decent alternative rock for just a coupla bucks. On a recent visit to the Bloomington location we noted some real finds: a jet-black Elvis Presley Epiphone acoustic guitar, complete with the King's beloved "TCB" logo, for $149.95; single-disc CD players as low as $34.95; a complete home-theater setup for under $450, a Macintosh SE computer for less than $100, and a dart board for the rec room for, yes, less than ten bucks! Before you head to the congested malls to reinvest in the American economy, it's worth a stop at Pawn America. And get this, collectors: pawned Beanie Babies, competitively priced.