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Seen At 11: Pawn Shops Could Be The Key To Quality Pieces At A Bargain

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork)-- Next time you're out shopping and looking for a bargain, you may want to check out your local pawn shop.

As CBS2's Jessica Moore reported, what was once thought of as bleak has turned to bling with great finds and great deals.

"I guess a nice girl like me is just trying to help her dad out in the pawn business," EZ Pawn Corp President Lauren Kaminsky said.

But it's more than that for Kaminsky.  She wants to overhaul the rundown image of the pawn business, starting with a neighborhood shop in Queens. Her goal is to turn them into enticing retail destinations.

"If you're at the jewelry counter you should feel like you're at the jewelry store. You're still spending money to buy something that's valuable," she said.

Kaminsky is working to create a new shopping experience to draw customers who not only need a loan, but are looking for that special something at a very special price.

One customer spent about $200 on a gold ring-- negotiated down almost 40 percent on an already discounted price.

"The display is meant to be playful and like a treasure hunt," Kaminsky explained.

EZ Pawn also has an outpost selling vintage jewelry and more at the trendy Beauty & Essex restaurant on the Lower East Side.

"We wanted to preserve a little bit about that Lower East Side cool and I think a pawn shop is the perfect balance," Jared Boles, managing partner at Beauty & Essex, said.

"Lauren brought a whole new vibe into the business. It really has increased the ability to send word out there about what we do," EZ Pawn CEO David Kaminsky said.

Modell pawnbrokers have been in business since 1893.

"This is our pawn shop. We have multiple places for customers to transact business," Eric Modell, president of Collateral Loan Brokers Association of New York, said.

They also have a showroom that offers only high-end jewelry for sale. Modell agrees the pawn business is ready for an upgrade.

"People are considering it a traditional retail outlet and I think that pawn shops are trying to keep that momentum going," he said.

Expect pawn shop items to be sold at a significant discount than what you'd find at traditional retailers. Some are pieces never picked up from the original loan and others have been brought in from estate sales and flea markets.

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