AK Pawn has ribbon  cutting for new location

Morristown Area Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon cutting at AK Pawn Thursday afternoon. Pictured from left: Kimberly Reese, Delores Cole, Brenda Eagle, Donna Jo Kaupp, Debbie Harrell, Kelly Williamson, Andrew Smith, Autumn Smith, Eden Freeman (holding scissors), Billie Gulino, Chad Gulino, Jim Price, Mary Kathryn Coffman, Back row: Kristina Kurtz, Victor Gulino, Larry Long and Mark Ramsey.

Autumn Smith is an expert purchaser of vintage antique and estate jewelry, buying much of her jewelry through pawn shops.

Thanks to her jewelry hobby, Smith purchased the former West End Pawn shop on West Main Street and has opened AK Pawn at 1335 West Andrew Johnson Highway in the former Atmos Energy building.

Thursday, the Morristown Area Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon cutting for the business.

When speaking about AK Pawn, co-owner Kelly Williamson said that Autumn is the “brains” behind this operation.

“She and her husband Andy and daughter Eden are the brains,” Williamson said. “The pawn shop is something that Autumn has always wanted. She’s been in the jewelry business forever. The only reason I got involved is we’ve been friends awhile. Since I have friends like Mark Ramsey and Digger from the ‘Moonshiners’ show on the Discovery Channel, it has caused us to have the ability to do a lot of stuff and a lot of people will let us do stuff that we couldn’t before. We’re just proud to be here.”

Although Williamson and Smith bought West End Pawn from Victor and Billie Gulino, both Gulinos and Chad Gulino are essential parts of the new business.

“We’re going to take anything in basically on pawn, from heavy equipment, commercial stuff right on down to your tools,” Williamson said. “Victor and Billie have been running a successful business for years. We’re just trying to work with them and learn, I guess. Larry Long is the No. 1 jeweler in East Tennessee. We want to support our businesses here.”

Williamson said that AK Pawn wants to be part of the community.

“We want to be part of the community, be accepted, hopefully run a successful business and make things work here,” Williamson said.

Autumn Smith said that AK Pawn is more different than most pawn shops.

“One thing I want to stress is that I’m sure many of you have never been in a pawn store. It’s very important that people know that we’re trying to fight the stigma of pawn shops. They’ve gotten a bad rap in the past”

Another step in fighting the stigma of the pawn shops of the past is that all items to be pawned are subject to a check by area law enforcement agencies.

“We want to make sure everyone understands that anyone who comes in here to sell us anything or pawn anything, everything that comes through those doors goes through local law enforcement. All of that stuff is reported,” she said. “We try to keep things very positive. We want to help people who might not be able to get to a bank to get a loan, who might be having financial troubles.”

Autumn Smith looks at AK Pawn as providing a service to the community.

“It’s really a way to help the community that the people don’t see or know about. We also have a lot of business owners who come here because sometimes payroll gets missed. Bad things happen. This is a really good way to get a short term loan that they can pay off quickly,” she said.

“We want people to come in and embrace us, think of us as a place to buy something, such as jewelry or a gift you don’t want to spend a fortune on,” she said. “We have some great stuff here. We really help the community. I think it will be great for the community. It all goes back to Victor and Billie.

West End Pawn was started by Victor and Billie in 1998.

“If you’ve ever been there, the one thing I loved about that store is when I walked in and when I was getting ready to leave, they would always tell you that they love you. That’s why they’ve been successful. People come in here and say hi. That’s because of those people. We’re very fortunate and very blessed to have them,” Autumn added.

AK Pawn is open from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. Call 423-616-0715.