THREE RIVERS – Every industry has been impacted at some capacity during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
And for the only pawn shop in Live Oak County that is fueled by providing a service to the community, times like this is hard for everyone.
“When it first hit we were a lot like other businesses with firearms and had a bump in sales,” Manager Esther Browell said. “It has been business as usual, but for some people it’s not good. Unfortunately now we are seeing the downside where people are laid off and work a job where they can’t work from home and have reduced hours. People are bringing in more things to pawn right now.”
Esther has been the manager since May 2017, but has been at the pawn shop since day one when it opened in July 2015.
“The day we opened the owner and manager at the time were doing renovations while the store was opened,” Esther laughed. “It was a work in progress as they wanted to open the doors as soon as possible.”
Despite many people experiencing difficult times, the pawn shop hasn’t changed its hours for its customers.
“That’s what we are here for,” Esther said. “We have the same hours and haven’t changed what we provide with items. That little burst of income because an unexpected bill popped up helps a lot for people. It is sad that people are being forced to pawn things they haven’t had to do before. I see the community needs this store. If they need something to loan for anything I want to be there to help. We want to take the best possible care of the customers the best way we can.”
When COVID first hit back in March, the Tradin’ Post wasn’t deemed an essential business.
“At first we were told we weren’t an essential business and we fought it,” Esther said. “The county agreed and we’ve been open every since. Our air conditioner broke for two weeks a while back and we remained open for the public.”
The store hasn’t had issues with any of the social distancing orders for its customers shopping inside.
“For us it hasn’t been an issue limiting people because we rarely see huge groups come in, unlike restaurants,” Esther said. “Sometimes we have three to four people come inside and they do their own thing with social distancing. We are aware of the guidelines, but it hasn’t been an issue.”
The shop minds its traffic with counter top surfaces being cleaned.
“We make sure the cases are cleaned more often than we have before,” Esther said. “That’s what people touch the most, but everything has been good.”
Chris Filoteo is the editor at The Progress and can be reached at 830-254-8088, or at karnes@mySouTex.com.