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Today's word on journalism

Monday, April 24, 2006

Dueling masters on words:

"He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary."

--William Faulkner, writer (1897-1962), on Ernest Hemingway, writer (1899-1961)

"Poor Faulkner. Does he really think big emotions come from big words?"

--Ernest Hemingway, writer (1899-1961), on William Faulkner, writer (1897-1962)

Trash and treasures: Pawnshop sees the strange and the stranger

By Jen Pulham

MARCH 1, 2006 | In a store in downtown Logan one young man sits playing ACDC's Thunderstruck on a guitar that is not his and another man sits behind a counter full of jewelry, observing his only customer.

Norr Hendricks, 64, of Smithfield, has owned the Fast Cache Pawnshop on Main Street for 11 years. He's seen his share of strange times, strange customers and strange items. Originally a grocer, Hendricks and his son Rand eventually decided to lease their grocery store, Valley Discount, which is now El Ranchero, and buy the pawn shop.

"We were in the grocery business for a long time but we thought the pawn store would be a little better money, so we bought it," he said.

The pawnshop houses a wide variety of, well, stuff, from stacks of videos to shelves of stereo equipment to a long row of guitars. "You see a lot of shit," Hendricks said. His favorite "shit" is his guns, which also happen to be his biggest seller.

The pawnshop is designed to give people loans for collateral.

"We hold [collateral] for 30 days then they either pick it up or renew their loan." If the customer doesn't return, the collateral belongs to Hendricks. It is then moved from the basement storage to the selling floor to perhaps be placed by the wetsuit, or next to the metal detector, or under the shelf of whiskey bottles.

Clay Anderson, 19, lives 32 miles away in Malad, Idaho, but works in Logan. His paycheck doesn't come through until 1 p.m. Wednesdays. This Wednesday he fills his time at the pawnshop playing anything from Black Sabbath to ACDC on one of Hendricks' acoustic guitars, a guitar that Anderson says plays "pretty nice." Anderson is waiting for his money so he can buy stereo equipment. According to him, the prices aren't that bad.

Other customers trickle into the store, giving Hendricks enough to do for the moment. One customer barters with Hendricks over the price of a handheld scanner, another customer waits to ask him about guns, and more customers walk between the aisles of saddles, sewing machines, and snowboards. "Customers will come in spurts," he said. "And then you'll have an hour where you have no one."

But the pawnshop does have its regulars. "We'll see the same people over and over," Hendricks said. His busiest times are at the beginning of the month, when people get paychecks and bills. The regulars will take out a loan, then buy their item back. Then they'll go two or three weeks before needing more money, so they return to the pawnshop.

His favorite item to sell is jewelry, which mostly attracts older people. His collection of jewelry includes diamonds rings, gold rings, pearl necklaces, and Native American turquoise jewelry pieces. A lot of his jewelry has come from people not being able to pay off their loans, entire sets of jewelry, in fact. The most expensive piece of jewelry is about $2000, although Hendricks admits that he sometimes barters.

The pawnshop building has already seen a few occupants, including an audio shop and a beauty shop. Now a pawnshop, the front strip of browning grass is decorated with two pieces of exercise equipment and an old stereo speaker. But this is nothing unusual for the shop selling swords, a Denver Broncos lamp, and Normal Rockwell art.

Hendricks couldn't identify his weirdest thing, but one bizarre thing in Hendricks' shop seems to stand out among the rest: an elephant footstool sitting in a corner. The small stool is covered by the skin of an actual elephant foot, and has apparently been there since he moved in. Although it's not for sale, he doesn't seem too attached to it.

Wendy Lemke, of Syracuse, Utah, has been working for Hendricks for 17 years, first at the grocery store and now at the pawnshop. She jokes that the weirdest thing in the shop is the customers, but later identifies the row of around 20 differently decorated whiskey bottles as the strangest.

Hendricks had never been in a pawnshop until he owned one, and now he spends time in one every day. "I'm just doing this to make a living," he said. But later he confessed that he does in fact enjoy his job.


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