On August 13, 2014, after months of meetings and hard work, USA Pawn held a grand opening in their new 27,000 square-foot store in Jackson, MS.
The road to the new store opening was not a direct one. A previously-planned expansion in another city was denied after a year-long process. However, introductions to some key state officials made during the process aided in getting the new store opened in Jackson.
Although USA Pawn has been in business since 1991 and already had six stores, a major expansion like the one they planned was intimidating, according to Nick Fulton, managing partner. They visited other large pawn store operations, including National Jewelry & Pawn in North Carolina, American Jewelry and Loan in Michigan, and Pawn America in Minnesota.
A New Look
Nick and his team wanted to create a new retail look with a “wow” effect. They purchased mint-condition fixtures and shelving from a recently-closed store, designed counter tops with stainless steel, encased signs in Plexiglas™, and equipped jewelry and wall cases with LED lighting.
Utilizing new surveillance technology, they designed a room with four stations behind bullet-resistant glass where loan payments and jewelry loans are processed. Four 55” LED monitors were installed overhead displaying company photos, store specials, and basic pawn information.
A silver wood and metal slat wall was installed in the musical section. In the center of the guitar wall, an autographed BB King Lucille guitar, one of six, is displayed in a case. Several framed autographed jerseys from some of Mississippi’s great sports figures, including one signed by Walter Payton, hang on a wall.
A security guard greets all customers at the door directing them to their destination. Once the loan is written on the floor, customers are sent to the bank-teller-style windows to collect their ticket and cash.
A dedicated counter has been set up for customers to collect their item once it has been paid out. With the new layout, warehouse staff can pick up the pawn merchandise, allowing the counter help to keep the customer lines moving.
A dedicated sales staff roams the floor to help customers. “A person in line will wait a lot longer to receive money, but someone with cash in hand can grow impatient,” Nick said.
Family, friends, and local dignitaries came to the grand opening, which was dedicated to Ron Smith, the founder of USA Pawn. Attending the event were Jackson’s newly-elected mayor, Tony Yarber; Hinds County Sheriff, Tyrone Lewis; local councilman, Tyrone Hendrix; Mississippi State Agriculture Commissioner, Cindy Hyde-Smith; and Mississippi State Treasurer, Lynn Fitch.
Nick’s recommendations for anyone planning to expand their store operation, “Budget for more than just the building, plan on multiple meetings, have dedicated team members, and do it right the first time.”