There’s exactly one place in Morgantown where you can buy an electric guitar autographed by John Mayer, a .357 revolver, and a vintage Gianni Versace trench coat all at once.

Cashland Pawn opened more than 20 years ago, but it was in 2004 that current manager Rob Summers started helping his father-in-law out with the business. “I just needed some part-time work, but I’ve been here ever since,” Summers says.

Long before Morgantown existed, pawn brokers were associated with the pious followers of religious orders. In 5th century China, they were owned and operated by Buddhist monasteries. In the 12th century, Franciscan friars ran similar shops. Saint Nicholas—aka Santa Claus—is, to this day, the patron saint of pawnbrokers. But Summers acknowledges that in America, ideas about pawnbroking eventually changed for the worse.

“Pawn shops have a stigma to them, like we’re back here hiding behind a newspaper, smoking, crabby with everyone.” He laughs. “We always try to do things a little different.”

The stereotype of the shady, grumpy pawnbroker has been undergoing a renovation in some corners of pop culture, Summers says. He credits television shows like Hardcore Pawn and Pawn Stars, which chronicle the business lives of well-established brokers in Detroit and Las Vegas.

The store operates as most pawn shops do: Clients take items in as collateral for loans. They can either purchase the items back within 30 days or keep the loans and leave the items to be sold in the shop.

What makes Cashland Pawn stand out, according to Summers, is the way clients are treated. “It’s in having an understanding for people. Having an understanding for their situation and where they’re at, treating them like human beings. Our clients are the best. This place pretty much runs on our regulars.”

Regular buyers at Cashland Pawn know to shop seasonally. As winter first approached, people started bringing in tools that they wouldn’t be using in the cold weather. Now, as deer hunting season ends, the guns are showing up.

The shop’s recent move from Beechurst to Brockway Avenue—between Chestnut Brew Works and Beertopia—has so far worked well for frequent clients. Others are only gradually discovering the more tucked-away location. Summers smiles. “We’reSouth Park’s best-kept secret.”

Not anymore. — KP

530 Brockway Avenue, 304.296.3970, @cashlandpawn on Facebook


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