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Federal workers turn to pawn shops for cash during government shutdown

This week, about 800,000 federal employees will miss out on their second paycheck. Many are forced to look at options that may help keep the lights on and food on the table.

HOUSTON — Tuesday will officially mark one month since the start of the partial government shutdown.

This week, about 800,000 federal employees will miss out on their second paycheck. Many are forced to look at options that may help keep the lights on and food on the table.

Jack Wright, owner of Wright Pawn and Jewelry, said his shop can give people money instantly.

“They walk out of here with cash,” Wright said.

For more than 25 years, Wright has been buying and selling a wide range of items at his family-owned pawn shop.

As the government shutdown approaches one month, he expects more people to turn to his business for help.

“The pain is just starting, I believe because people just missed their first paycheck,” he said.

Wright has already seen federal workers come in looking for financial relief.

“We had a customer of ours that was TSA. She couldn’t pay. She needed some more money. Her landlord wouldn’t allow her to wait so we loaned her some more money. We put her loans on hold," Wright said.

He says pawn shops like his offer short-term loans for people who need fast money.

"We want people to be able to borrow money, be able to pay us back and be able to use the money for what they need,” Wright said.

He encourages those affected by the shutdown to stop by to see how they can help.

“We may give them a special rate,” he said. “Maybe half-rate, something like that, for this period of time.”

Wright admits government workers run the risk of not being able to pay back the loan.

Interest rates can vary by shop and there are fees that can add up. According to the National Pawnbrokers Association, about 15 percent of pawn loans are never repaid.

“There’s in an event that you don’t come back, pay for your loan, nobody turns you into the credit bureau. Nobody says you’re a bad person. You just lose. You do lose your merchandise,” Wright said.

However, he hopes it never gets to that point for the thousands of people who don’t know when they’ll get their next check.