RIPLEY - New York Yankee great Yogi Berra was once quoted by the New York Times as saying, “When you come to a fork in the road....take it.”
For one local couple, this rings true and the decision to be proactive when the opportunity presented itself is paying off for Jeff and Bobbie Steele.
Court Street Pawn opened their doors on November 30 2012 and the owners remember the whirlwind 30 days prior to that moment.
“It was a family effort, for sure,” says Jeff.
Jeff and Bobbie were both employed as corporal correctional officers at South Central Regional Jail, prior to their venture.
They decided to chase their dream and open a family business.
“We rented the space, got all of our licenses and overhauled the interior in 30 days. We worked each day until we couldn’t go anymore, then went home and slept for a few hours and came back for another day.”
“Everyone wanted to know what was behind the black plastic that we had in the windows,” added Bobbie.
“We tried to keep it a secret as long as we could.”
The couple traveled to Tennessee to purchase their initial stock in the form of 18 skids full of tools, electronics and household wares.
“I am glad to say that we only have four items left from those 18 skids of merchandise.”
The items were returned items from department stores that often were perfectly functional.
Repairman Jerry Carr assisted with making sure each item sold was in working order. The items were heavily discounted and flew off the shelves.
“The most popular items we sold were the name brand blue ray players for thirty dollars. They went fast,” said Bobbie.
Over the last 12 months, the store has filled up with items that have been pawned and lost or purchased for resale by Court Street Pawn. The shop has taken in an impressive 1000 pawns in its first year of business.
“We really try to work with folks. I know how tight money is for people and I know that sometimes pawning something that you don’t want to get rid of is a last option,” said Jeff.
In the pawn business, many people will pawn an item for a low amount and pay the monthly interest charge as a way of storing guns, bows lawn equipment and more. Court Street Pawn has no limit on how long you can leave the item, as long as you make your interest payments.
“Pawn shops have a reputation as a place for shady dealings but most of your small town shops are family owned and run businesses that contribute to the community. That is our goal, we do our best to give back,” said Jeff.
Page 2 of 2 - Jeff believes that the success of the reality show “Pawn Stars” has contributed to the sway in public perceptions about the business in general.
The couple is proud of the fact that they have only taken in one stolen item (unknowingly of course) over the last year. They have made a concerted effort to work with local law enforcement when they are called upon.
“That is why we don’t take cell phones or car stereos,” added Jeff. “They are too easily stolen and not worth the risk to us.”
Earlier this month an opportunity arose to purchase the antique shop beside of their pawn-shop.
Reta Groves decided to sell Reta’s Antiques and she gave the couple the first shot at it.
“We worked it all out in one day and purchased the shop,” said Bobbie.
Bobbie, who is no stranger to the pawn business, saw the potential in the business as her Mother owns R&S Pawn in Clendenin, and has done well in the venture.
“Taking on the antique shop is quite an undertaking for us with the pawn shop just a year old, but we will make it work.”
The couple has received support from their children. Bobbie’s son Matt, 20 and Jessie, 18 contribute to the shops as does Jeff’s daughter Laura, 17.
“We have really been thankful for their help,” said Bobbie.
Both shops observe the same schedule of Monday through Friday 9-6 and Saturdays 9-4.
The shops will observe “Small Business Saturday” on November 30 and will give away a gun to celebrate their one-year anniversary.
For the pawnshop, one store item will be selected and printed on a piece of paper and sealed in an envelope at the beginning of the day. If you purchase that (unmarked) item, you will win a gun courtesy of Court Street Pawn. You must clear the background check to claim your gun as restrictions may apply.
For the antique shop, the same scenario applies but instead of a gun, you will win the cash value of the selected (unmarked) item. You must be present at 7:30 p.m. when the seals of the envelopes are broken to claim your prize.
NOTE: Jeff and Bobbie will also celebrate their third wedding anniversary in December. You can reach Court Street Pawn at 304-514-2600, the antique shop at 304-532-2957 or email firstname.lastname@example.org