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People Really Do Buy Things at Beauty & Essex's Nightclub Pawn Shop

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Anna Fischer, 6/9/11

For the past seven months, Lower East Side club/restaurant Beauty & Essex has been operating behind a fully functioning pawn shop on Essex Street. The shop started out as a decor element—a way to keep the massive, crystal-bedecked restaurant from looking completely out of place on the block. But the owners wound up hiring the people behind New York chain EZ Pawn Corp to run it, and now, over half a year later, it's operating like a genuine, honest-to-goodness place of business.

Initially, the shop was stocked by the restaurant owners, who drew from their personal obsessions: One brought in guitars, while another hunted down all the boxing memorabilia. They found the jewelry at estate sales and sourced random treasures—a Star Trek Barbie, a Biggie Smalls doll, a pair of gold Loubs—from vintage stores.

The pawn shop is the restaurant's only entrance, which means some 600 to 800 people walk through it every night. Since it's also the restaurant's only exit, many of those people walk back out again when they're drunk. Despite those favorable stats, business isn't raging, but it's a lot steadier than anyone expected. The shop has sold seven of the guitars hanging on the back wall, which go for $295 to $1395.

Few nightclub customers show up planning to pawn their belongings, of course, but Lauren Kaminsky of EZ Pawn Corp reports that she's gotten some inquiries. "Most people try to sell items rather than pawn. It seems many people are unclear on the difference," she writes. Because it's a real pawn shop, bargaining is welcome. Lauren says people are always trying to buy display items along with jewelry. They'll ask if they can buy the Yankees necklace off a Joe Torre bobblehead and get the toy for free. Sadly, that's not an option: Like Biggie and Star Trek Barbie, Joe Torre is not for sale.
· Beauty & Essex, the LES' new Club/Restaurant/Pawn Shop [Eater NY]
· Beauty & Essex [Official Site]

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