]: “It’s a Chanel day bag – a timeless classic. If you had 50 in the shop, you’d sell all 50,” says Nathan Finch, managing director of Pickwick pawnbrokers.
We are in the strongroom of his shop in north London, where he is showing off some of the hundreds of bags that customers pledge each year, in return for borrowing money.
Once it was mostly watches, gold or jewellery that people took to pawnbrokers. Now, designer handbags are the big growth area.
They are increasingly high in value – often worth thousands of pounds each, they are easily portable, and there is a seemingly limitless supply.
“For some women, it’s a bit of an addiction. They get their fix from buying a bag. But like most cravings, it comes again,” says Mr Finch.
“One customer brought 18 bags into our Dartford store.”
With celebrity endorsements from the likes of Cara Delevingne and Kim Kardashian, bags offer plenty of glamour.
But on a more practical level, you can use them to borrow cold, hard cash.
Yet some of those who pledge their bags are already extremely well off.
Debbie Wynter, who runs the pawnbrokers Suttons and Robertsons in central London, calls them “the ladies who lunch”.
“One customer wanted to raise a loan so they could go on holiday on a private jet, in style,” she says.
They may live in flashy houses in South Kensington, but sometimes they don’t have access to ready cash.
However, often they are ordinary working women.
Borrowing from myself
Kim Baker, an office administrator from Kent, has three or four designer bags, which she regularly pawns at her local shop.
Her favourites are a Mulberry Bayswater, a Louis Vuitton Postman, and a Chanel clutch bag.
“I flip between the Mulberry and the Louis Vuitton because I don’t like to part with the Chanel.
They probably go in every couple of months, but they’re never in there for long.”
On occasion, she’s been tempted to pledge one bag so that she can afford to buy a different one.
“Yes, I would pawn one to buy another one. It’ll just come home until I put it in again.”
She typically borrows a couple of hundred pounds at a time, to pay for holidays or school uniforms. And she prefers to take a loan from a pawnbroker rather than a payday lender or friends.
“Because it’s my item, it feels like I am borrowing from myself, if that makes sense.”
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