Best Of 2006

Best Pawn Shop: AJ & R Pawn Shop

AJ & R Pawn Shop has been loaning cash on valuables on South Grand since 1974, says manager Ray Weber. He adds that the business has changed as well. "With the electronics, they've cheapened up tremendously. We used to see guys coming back from Vietnam bring in big stereo systems, but now mostly we see inexpensive shelf units. Twenty-seven-inch TVs used to fetch $400 but today go for $175. It's a throwaway culture now." What's best about AJ&R is that it specializes in musical instruments. "We've seen them all," says Weber, "from tubas to bagpipes, oboes, bassoons, saxophones, trumpets, even a flugelhorn." And then there's the other side of the equation: Next time you're sitting at home balancing your sorry-ass checkbook, take a look around at all the money you've got just sitting there. You've got an iPod now; what do you need with a CD player? Those golf clubs? With your messed-up back, you may as well toss them. And the bagpipes? Admit it, that was just a passing fancy.

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