The recession in Italy has been good for business for pawn brokers and gold buyers. “Compro Oro,” or “I Buy Gold” businesses are on the rise. Oro Change opened its first branch five years ago, and now has seven outlets in Rome. Employee Alexia Messi says, “Business is very good, you can really feel the crisis.” Messi goes on to say “People are never happy to sell, but now they come in with anything – gold, silver, old stuff, new stuff. I would say we have twice as many customers a day as we did a year ago.” The proliferation of pawn shops is a sure sign that life for many Italians has changed for the worse, despite former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s denial that Italy is in a recession. There are currently an estimated 28,000 “cash for gold” stores in Italy. Italy’s retail stores and boutiques have been hit hard, but pawn shops are booming. In fact, the melted gold being sent abroad from pawnbrokers is becoming one of Italy’s fastest growing exports.