BANGKOK, Thailand—Luxury items such as Hermes, Gucci and Louis Vuitton handbags and Blythe dolls have been sold at pawnshops nationwide as parents struggle to find money for their children’s tuition fees and related expenses for the new school year this month.
The influx of luxury items has prompted many pawnshops to beef up security measures to prevent thefts.
Sitthiwich Tangthanakiat, an executive of Tangthanasin Co, which runs 30 Easy Money pawnshop branches nationwide, said many parents pawned valuables such as gold ornaments, jewellery, wristwatches and information-technology gadgets to get cash for their kids’ education.
In the past few years people have also been pawning brand-name bags and Blythe dolls, he said, adding that the popular Blythe models fetched more money as they were easier to sell, while the not-so-popular dolls would get only a four-digit price.
Furby dolls were pawned for between 1,000 baht and 3,000 baht because they were not as popular any more, he said.
The company would buy brand-name bags at appropriate prices according to the brand and the condition and a bag could fetch a five-digit price, Sitthiwich said. He said the fim’s customers had increased by 30 per cent so far this month with sales of between 1.5 billion baht and 2 billion baht so far.
Sitthiwich said gold, diamonds and brand-name wristwatches were kept in rooms that could withstand heat from a fire for three hours and were equipped with infrared cameras and a closed-circuit TV system.
“The brand-name bags, Blythe dolls or IT gadgets such as mobile phones, notebooks and tablets are kept in a different room on another floor,” he said, adding that security guards were stationed in the front of each branch.
He said customers who pawned valuables either were in financial trouble or wanted money for an investment and would often buy an item back after making a profit.
There was also an emerging trend of people leaving valuables such as diamonds or gold at pawnshops for safekeeping while they were away during festivals, and the company welcomed that business, he added.
Wiwat Kaenchan, the manager of the Prachanubal Pawnshop in Bangkok’s Udomsuk area, said almost 100 per cent of items pawned so far this month were gold and jewellery.
The shop would not buy items that were more difficult to sell, he added.
A customer at a Bang Na pawnshop, Wassana Moohuana, said she resorted to using pawnshops because her household expenses were high.
“I mostly pawn gold necklaces because I have many family members to take care of and the economy these days isn’t very good,” she said, adding that she would redeem items once she had money. TVJ