You would think Brian Lurie, the owner of Yuppie Pawn, would have an easy time making money right now. The jobless rate lingers above 5...

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You would think Brian Lurie, the owner of Yuppie Pawn, would have an easy time making money right now. The jobless rate lingers above 5 percent. Salaries remain low. Employers are not adding many jobs.

But the Kirkland pawnbroker has been struggling to sell what used to be his staples: tools and electronics. Big discount stores — such as Costco, Home Depot and Fry’s Electronics — have cut into his profits and made it next to impossible for him to compete against their low prices. When Lurie has to price his goods for less, he earns a smaller return on his loans.

“I always thought pawnshops were safe from the economy,” Lurie said. “But now we’re even having problems.”

Lurie is turning away computers, microwaves and stereos unless they are high-end models, to focus on rarer, big-ticket items such as motorcycles, Jet Skis, snowmobiles, boats and cars.

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Earlier this month, he doubled his space and added nearly 50 more parking spaces at his new shop in Kirkland. He now has 30 motorcycles in his 7,000-square-foot showroom at 12031 N.E. Totem Lake Way and plans to add more.

“If I had my way, we’d be a motorcycle shop,” said Lurie, who runs the store with his sister and former wife. “But the girls want me to keep selling jewelry.”

He’d be smart to keep the diamond rings, gold necklaces and earrings. Jewelry and tools remain the most popular items people want to pawn, and Rolex watches are some of the easiest and fastest things to sell.

Lurie tries to keep an open mind about things people want to pawn. He buys artwork, although it takes a long time to sell, and golf clubs, even though he’s a terrible golfer and his Rottweiler, Rosa, dislikes them.

“You can pawn almost anything you like,” he said. “We’ve even taken a dog before.”

Lurie bought the puppy from a young man who had pawned his laptop and didn’t have room for the dog in his new home.

Final piece

Wasatch Development Associates, which plans to build a $1 billion project on a 10-acre block in downtown Bellevue, bought the final parcel of the block for $10.2 million last week.

The Utah developer plans to start building as many as six towers, 1,000 condominiums, and office and retail space in June.

The block, once owned by late Bellevue developer Eugene Horbach, is bounded by Northeast Eighth Street, 108th Avenue Northeast, Northeast 10th Street, and 106th Avenue Northeast.

Wasatch and Horbach were set to develop the block together until Horbach died last year.

Eastside Business Notes appears every Wednesday in the Eastside edition of

The Seattle Times.

Kristina Shevory: 206-464-2039 or