PJ Nichols, owner of Northwest Pawn Shop, poses in his store with an impression of the store’s future new branding – Northwest Outfitters.
Cuyler Meade / Craig Press

Northwest Pawn has long been no more than just a pawnshop.

Now, as more retail offerings overtake the traditional out-facing store business model, owner PJ Nichols and his team are finally changing. Northwest Pawn will soon become Northwest Outfitters.

“We had a hard time with the word ‘pawn’,” Nichols said. “There are people who don’t want to come in because it’s associated with a dirty and filthy pawnshop, which we are not. We’re going to do the loan, but we’re going to do a “DBA” (Doing Business As) Northwest Outfitters, just something to help attract people. “

Nichols said business has taken a turn for the worse in recent years as the COVID-19 pandemic and its associated closures and openings have created an unusual market. Most of the store, however, remained open during the various phases, and the switch to outdoor activities was a temporary boon.

“It has been volatile for the past two years,” he said. “We were allowed to stay open during COVID, so we had a pretty good increase in sales. Administration changes (nationwide) also caused panic buying, and now that everything has calmed down we’re a bit slow. I think this (name change) will help kick things off.

Nichols said summer is generally slower for the business.

“Everyone is enjoying all the things they bought,” he said.

But the fall hunting season tends to bring a substantial increase in income, as much of Craig does.

“We hang in there,” he said. “Perhaps we will find a new niche that will allow us to go beyond. We hit new goals that we never hit, and then hit new lows that we never hit. As long as that balances out, we’ll be here for a while.

In recent years, the store has added features like an archery range, tumbling center and more as it looks to branch out and find new markets to fill.

“The city has grown, different people are moving there,” Nichols said. “We imported a lot of products. We now have the stone store, archery tracks, jewelry, southwest blankets. We’ve kind of taken over the guitar part, and we’re really a lot bigger in archery than before. Craig’s demands have changed, including with the COVID changes, and (the rebranding) is probably something I should have done earlier. But it seems the time has come.

The store logo will largely remain the same, although the words will change, and a new line of hats, shirts, hoodies and more will be produced.

“We get it all locally,” Nichols said, noting that Chaos Ink was helping with the rebranding. “It’s just a push for everyone to transition and survive.”

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