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'Spawn and Pawn' opens at busy north side intersectionTell North Platte what you think
Photo by Joe Chitwood
Photo by Joe Chitwood
Paul Fitzpatrick, at left, and Jason Erickson
Photo by Joe Chitwood
Customers look over pawned items with LaVon Fitzpatrick

North Platte’s “old town” became home to a new store, “Flatrock Spawn and Pawn” on Tuesday when owners Jason Erickson and Paul Fitzpatrick opened the doors of their shop.

The shop sells fishing and hunting equipment, live bait and also offers pawnbroker services.

The shop is at 102 Rodeo Road, on the southwest corner of the intersection of Jeffers St., in the building that formerly housed Smoker's Outlet.

The shop sells live bait -- minnows and nightcrawlers, with leeches to be available soon.

“The live bait was kind of my wife’s idea,” Erickson said, “but we all agreed on it.”

Erickson said pawn shops give people a chance to pick up extra money by putting personal property up as security for a loan and have a chance to buy it back.

“Already we’re getting all kinds of stuff,” Erickson said.

Their main business is the pawn shop, but the fishing and hunting aspect “was right up Erickson’s alley,” Fitzpatrick said.

 Erickson said the outdoor sports are all he knows.

“But we both kind of decided on the pawn shop,” he said. “It is something that supports us year around, even when hunting or fishing season is down.”

The walls are adorned with mounted trophy fish that Erickson caught. He is an avid fisherman and has won many fishing tournaments. “I have been all over the country walleye fishing,” he said.

Prior to this, Erickson spent most of his life in the floor covering business, a job that put a lot of stress on his body.

“He was starting to get disabled and doctors told him if he didn’t quit, in another 10 years he would not be able to do anything,” Fitzpatrick said.

Erickson is happy with his new career.

“No more having to get down on my hands and knees working on upholstery or floor tiles,” he said. “This is way easier work than that was — I can guarantee you that.”

When Erickson decided to change occupations, Fitzpatrick, a retired railroader, offered his help.

“I told him I would help him out if I could,” he said. “This is my first business venture of any kind. We came up with this idea and looked around town for property, but found that most was way beyond what we could afford.”

They found something affordable when Smoker Friendly moved out and the building went up for sale. Remodeling began in January. It took awhile.

“We had to take out some partial walls,” Fitzpatrick said. “This was built in the 50s. I was a kid growing up here, and this was one of those (many) gas stations.  This place was put together like a jigsaw puzzle and most of it made out of war surplus steel. It is strong; I don’t think this thing could ever blow over.”

They used barn wood on interior walls, as well as some corrugated steel from an old barn roof, Fitzpatrick said.

“I have been here about 24 hours a day for the last 4-5 months,” Erickson said. “We tore out a lot of walls. We even found some old pallets and tore them apart to make cabinets.”

The north side offers lower rents and purchasing prices for startup businesses. Erickson is not concerned about being located in “old town” because it’s not hard to get there.

“North Platte is not Omaha, you don’t have to drive 45 minutes to get somewhere,” he said.

Fitzpatrick believes they have a great chance for success.

“We get lots of people coming in from all over town and people that live on the north side have been very supportive since we have been open, and even before that. People come and spend their money here.”

Erickson is pleased with the traffic at the store. “We get a lot of people who walk in and think they are not in the right place because it is kind of fancy for a pawn shop.”

“We will compete,” Erickson said. “We’ll keep our price right with or a little lower than everyone’s.”

Erickson says he will still make time to fish, “as soon as I get all this stuff straightened out. We plan to keep getting new products in and keeping up with supplying what everybody wants.”

The hours are 7 a.m.-6 p.m. Tue-Sat and noon-6 p.m. Sunday. The store is closed on Mondays.

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The North Platte Bulletin - Published 6/29/2017
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