A pawn shop will either buy an item or loan you money, using your item as collateral. If you go the loan route, the pawn shop gives you a limited amount of time, usually 30 days, to buy your item back at a higher price. If you pawn -- get a loan on -- an item, you will get less money than if you sell it outright. Big ticket items are the best-selling inventory at pawn shops.

Merchandise

Pawn shops only buy merchandise that sells. They are not going to buy or loan you money on your grandmother's tea set or your vintage porcelain doll collection if people are not buying tea sets or porcelain dolls. Your best bet is to visit several pawn shops and take mental note of the types of items they are selling the most of. For future reference, write down the names of the pawn shops you visit.

Hot Sellers

The best-selling items are tools, jewelry, weapons, electronics, bicycles and musical instruments. If you're trying to hawk the Crown Jewels of Kansas, you're selling in the wrong venue. Pawn shops don't keep large amounts of cash in their safes. Bear in mind that a pawn shop is not going to give you the full value of your merchandise, even if it is brand new. This is because they have to turn a profit. This applies to the amount they loan you or the amount they give you to purchase merchandise outright.

Condition of Merchandise

If you take a washed and polished bicycle, with its tires filled to the correct pressure and scratches touched up with matching paint, the pawn dealer will give you more for it. Likewise, if you bring in the same bicycle that has not been cleaned and fixed up, you will get far less for it. This same principle applies to musical instruments, tools, electronics and everything else. Make sure that you have the power cords for any electronics you bring to the pawn shop. You will automatically fetch more money if you include all the accessories.

Bargain Power

If you have brought in some merchandise to pawn and it is in top-notch condition, you can bargain on what the pawn dealer wants to give you for it. Be polite, and stick to your guns. Still, you probably won't get as much as you ask. So aim high. You can always settle on a price that is lower than your offering price but still higher than what the pawn dealer initially offered to pay. As a last line of defense, tell the pawn dealer that you are planning to go to their competitor, "so and so," because they will give you a fair price for your item.