At Pawn Shops, The Cash-Strapped Trade In Memories

UNDATED (AP) -- Amid the economic downturn, there's one resource that more and more people are turning to: pawnshops.

That's where cash-strapped Americans are going to trade their mementoes for cash.

In recent weeks, jewelry buyers and gold brokers across the nation have seen a sharp increase in customers -- of all economic backgrounds -- pawning their possessions for money.

Cash for Gold USA, an Internet site that offers customers a chance to mail in pieces of gold, says it's business had quadrupled in recent months thanks to high gold prices. Business spiked even more with the financial meltdown.

Often, the pawned goods come with a story. One woman in Portland, Oregon, pawned three rings, including her wedding ring. Sheli Johnson said the cash would help make ends meet until her husband's next paycheck. She hopes to get the rings back someday.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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