Denver's Best Bargains

How to ditch your cable bill, buy name-brand clothes on the cheap, snag low-cost tickets for a game—and 83 other tips on living well for less.

February 2010

No One's Pawn

You might think pawnshops are all about gold chains and shady transactions. Get over yourself. I did, but then I discovered the merits of pawn shopping. Despite their image as seedy fronts for nefarious mischief, many pawnshops are as legitimate as any other retail operation. One in particular, Fast Cash Pawn & Jewelry, an 11-store chain with outlets from Lakewood to Thornton, offers friendly service and a variety of merchandise, such as TVs and stereos, gaming consoles, DVDs, musical instruments, jewelry—even power tools.

Last summer I needed an air conditioner and talked myself into trying a portable swamp cooler I'd found at Fast Cash for about $100. I wasn't wild about how it worked, and because I'd purchased the store's six-month service plan for $10, I was able to swap it for an air conditioner. Then, when the summer ended and I moved to a new place where I no longer needed AC, I traded it again for a like-new Blu-ray player from one of the other stores (after a helpful phone call from the manager of the first store to the manager of the second). There always are risks, of course, to buying used items as they are, but it's no different than buying from a garage sale or Craigslist. Except that, if your pawnshop item doesn't work, you can actually return it. —Luc Hatlestad