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Pawn Shop - Monday MorningPawn Shops

Every district had its own pawn shop before the days of the DHSS and family allowance. Wages were low, while for those out of work there was a means test to pass before the inspectors allowed any dole. Anything they thought were luxuries would have to be sold or pawned.

There was always that gap between weekend and payday which had to be filled with food for the family, or sometimes just beer for dad, Then suits, Bowler hats, dresses, umbrellas, shoes, wedding rings and so on would go in on the Monday to be redeemed on the Friday at ½d interest in the shilling.

Some people went in the front door, while others used the back for fear of the stigma. Its strange how there was any stigma attached to something so common, but people would sneak down the back street with their brown paper parcel and 'pop-in' the back door and haggle over the price.

Different 'pop shops' paid different prices. Many were owned by spinsters who were generally reckoned to be tight and earned the name 'Skinny Nancy. Others like Joe Howard on Derby Street were reckoned to be good making them popular with the customers. He had a sign outside saying "If it favours gold, wheel it in". Dekeynes was another famous one opposite Pikes Lane School.

Inside would be a counter with a grill over it. The pawn broker would look at the goods and offer a price, Say 2/-. The customer would say 2/6 and they would settle on a split at 2/3. Interest was never haggled over. If the goods weren't redeemed after a month, the interest went up ½d after six months you lost it.

Many a row was caused by clothes being pawned without the owners prior consent, Husbands, sons and daughters would come home thinking of a night on the 'razzle', look for their suit, Bowler or shoes and there they'd be GONE. Women had to feed their kids somehow and they'd probably already pawned everything else they could. In summer it was the kids shoes that went first, most of them went barefoot in the summer. It always fell on the mother to go to the 'Pops'.

Still if you didn't have much money pawn shops were a source of cheap clothes. People did buy the stuff that wasn't redeemed. They could also buy from many second hand shops around. Like the one next door to the Oddfellows Arms on St Helens Road that sold clothing from the well-to-do. They had hats with ostrich feathers in the window, giving the kids something to stare at on the way to school.

Another source of clothing was the door-to-door salesmen, people would pay weekly "on the knock" for the clothes he would carry around in his suitcase.

Failing all this there was the rag-and-bone man. Sometimes clothes could be bought from him in exchange for something else. Either way, if the clothes were decent enough for best, they'd be decent enough to pawn, so that's where they'd be on Monday morning in mothers brown paper parcel, 'Popped in through the back door. Whole generations lived from hand to mouth like this. In today's 'entrepreneurial' terms 'pop shops' could be said to have "provided a much needed service".