Friday, September 3, 2010

Cautionary Tale: Collector Don’t Take Your Barbie to a Pawn Shop

I never considered myself a pawn shop type. What convinced me? Years watching crime drama on television. Where did criminals hang out? Pawn shops. What did pawn shops stock? Jewelry, small electronics, musical instruments. And guns. None of which interested me. However, hearing that a car dealership – similar in status to pawn shops I thought - acknowledged that dolls had value, I decided that maybe today’s pawn shops would consider a cash for Barbie exchange. Worth a try, hey?

So I placed some calls. Most of the shops told me that no, they did NOT pawn Barbies. One woman sounded as outraged as if I had asked her to accept used crotchless undies. Sheesh, are Barbies that offensive to the non-collecting world? Another person might accept them – he’d have to see them first – but only for a loan from $3 to $15 dollars. Each doll. That one, I had to see. I mean, really! Did he think I was a school kid or a junkie? Rhetorical question, that. Then I seemed to luck out. Yes, it seems that at least ONE pawn shop buys new-in-box Barbies!

Remember I wrote, “seems.” Excited by this news – I tried to find out what kind of Barbie they would buy. I spoke to two men at different times. Neither would state a time or other criteria. Both men told me that they would have to see the doll to make sure the doll’s box was never opened. Well, I understood that, but what kind of dolls interested them? What did they want? They would check the dolls’ prices on eBay. Sigh. Tiresome stance, but okay, they did not want to commit over the telephone.

So, I take the AKA Centennial Barbie and a few other dolls to that Barbie-buying pawn shop. Jingle, jingle go the bells over the doorway. I notice the ceiling to floor plastic barrier that narrows the already long room. Gulp. Oh my. Well, I live in Big City Philadelphia; the clear wall is for protection and so that patrons can see the merchandise. I wonder if the barrier is bulletproof. I shake off a Dorothy-not-in-Kansas sensation and attempt to smile at the approaching man who looked as if he could be comfortable with a gun. Medium height, thin, scruffy and sour mien. The pawn shop guy squares up on the other side of the plastic wall. His eyes seem to narrow. Could he help?

“Hi!” I said, “I’d called about the Barbies.”

He tells me to show him the dolls. I unload them all. He reaches out and checks the boxes. Well, these dolls are too recent. Butterfly Art Barbie and Teresa. Two of the High School Musical dolls, the first Gabriella on a Barbie-sized body and Graduation Ryan in a kilt. Some Kellys from 2004. They want dolls new-in-box from the 1970s. Shrug. Okay, I won’t lose sleep over not selling those dolls here. And I would not whine that had I been told the now-defined-period over the telephone, neither of us would have been inconvenienced. What about my one BIG one? What about the AKA Centennial Barbie? Her price ranges from $200-400 on eBay.

(Note: AKA Centennial Barbie had recently sold for $200+ and $400+ per eBay’s completed listings at that time. So I had high hopes. Soundtrack played: Money, money, money, monnnn-eeey. Money.)

The pawn shop guy saunters down to his computer, taps a few keys, and after a few minutes, returns to the window where I stand. Yes, there is an AKA Barbie online for the eBay price I mentioned. BUT it is not the same label. My eyes widen and I cock my head. Outrage chases away a phantom gun threat. WHAT?! The $400+ priced AKA Centennial Barbie online was the platinum label while mine was the pink label. So quoth the pawn shop guy.

I want to scream that there is NO such thing as a “platinum” label AKA Centennial doll – only the pink label. Then I remind myself that screaming leaves a sore throat and how unpleasant screaming is on a hot day. Then I remember: I am in a pawn shop. Did I want physical pain added to my disappointment? Did I really forget that that guy just might have a gun? No. I brought Barbies to a pawn shop: what did I expect? Someone versed in current Barbie minutia?

So, I thank the now bored pawn shop guy for his time and gather my unwanted dolls. Sigh. Pawn shop guy score 1. My score, O.

Guess who uploaded a photo of AKA Barbie on eBay later? But that is another sad story.