Pawning Possessions for the Pump

May 2, 2006 – Posted at 4:39 p.m. CDT

JONESBORO, AR -- The ripple effect of high gas prices has most folks clutching their wallets, but for some retailers business is actually better.

Pawn shops are seeing more and more trade with people in need of money for gas, in fact a national report indicates a 30% increase in pawnshop buys and pawns because of the spike in gas prices.

"I think it sucks!" said Lake City driver Bob Harmon as he pumped gas into his truck, "We can't afford that, look at that price up there."

"Man, it's really high and I have to work extra hours just to afford the gas in my truck," said Jonesboro driver Daniel Myers.

"You have to budget, you have to budget," said ASU Student Ashley Ellis, "Because you want to be able to afford the gas, first of all and have money for that. But I've had to cut back on some other things….maybe stay at home and eat in. No fast food!"

With fuel prices hovering close to $3.00 a gallon, every drop counts. Even the drive to make money is costly.

"Business has increased here lately. We've had more people coming in due to they are just needing extra money just for gas," said Joanna Clines, owner of Totem Pole Pawn Shop.

There's a selection of jewelry, guns and tools at the Totem Pole Pawn Shop in Jonesboro. All things desperate drivers are willing to part with.

Clines says a lot of her customers work for minimum wage and often they will come in and pawn tools they are not using for a particular job. Once the job is finished, they'll come back in and redeem those tools, only to trade others in for more gas money.

"People can't afford the gas to get back and forth to work, because a lot of them only make minimum wage and when you have kids, you can't afford it," said Clines.

And with no relief for gas prices on the horizon, places that pawn maybe one of the few cashing in.

Fuel prices have gotten so bad that one school in Tennessee cancelled classes in order to save on transportation spending. Nearly 4,000 students got Friday and Monday off at Rhea County Schools in Chattanooga .