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With high inflation, consumers in Northeast Indiana turn to pawn shops for help

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WFFT) -- It’s getting harder to make end’s meet in Northeast Indiana, and a lot of folks are turning to pawn shops for help.

The summer rush hit B&B Loan Company a little earlier this year.

“Everything is up because of gas prices, food prices,” Vice President Desmond Gulley said. 

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data puts the Midwest’s inflation rate at 8.8 percent, slightly higher than the national average. 

Numbers are up across industries, most notably gas, groceries and household energy. 

“We don’t have people coming in our store borrowing money to buy some new TV or new game system. They’re here borrowing money to put gas in the car to get to work," Gulley said. 

It’s affecting customers of all ages.

“It’s varied. From young people to older people. With inflation the way it is and every where’s going up, and people need a little extra cash in their pocket," he said. “We’ve noticed the loan values are going up, this year especially. It was nothing for us to make a $20, $30 loan to somebody. Now people are coming in needing $100, $200 or sometimes more than that.” 

Across town at Lev’s Pawn Shop, Victor Amato says ever since the federal COVID-19 relief money dried up, the influx of customers has felt like an avalanche.

“No warning. Everything hits all at once," Amato said. “People don’t have the time or ability to go to a bank, to have extended payments, to pay exorbitant fees at check cashing places, so they come to us."

On a slow day, a hundred people will walk through his door.

When it’s busy, Amato says he'll see a hundred people come through the door in about an hour or two.

If you are strapped for cash and have valuables laying around your house that you’re not using, he says he'll be happy to do what he can for you. 

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