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A local business is celebrating 40 years of service.
Local Loan and Pawn Shop â€” home of the "upside-down" sign â€” opened its doors to the community on May 15, 1972. The founder, Bill Haley, began his pawn shop experience several years earlier in 1954 through 1955.
By the time Haley opened Local Loan, he was the only pawn shop available in Sweetwater, setting up shop at 211 Lamar. In all, the building was entirely 600 feet.
In March 1974, Haley moved into a new location which was built next door to their current location. Two years later, the company expanded their space in order to continually meet customers' needs.
Today, the business stands at 605 Lamar and has been there since 1991. With over 40,000 square feet, the shop is full of items like tools, videos, music and jewelry, among others.
Haley notes that both of his children were raised in the pawn shop business, as his daughter and son would come from school to help clean up the shop. Both of his kids have operated pawn shops and today his son Mike is running the local store.
He says that the business is nothing new, as pawning has been going on since the Old Testament times from the Bible. He also pointed out that the economy is heavily related; a weak economy will bring people in to sell items, while a strong economy allows customers to make purchases from the store.
"It's an interesting business," said the elder Haley.
Haley recollected that in his first location, though small, he always wondered what to do with the entire space. Now the concern is the opposite, Haley says, as the shop is not only well-stocked in the front but the back is filled with items ready to be sold â€” proof that the local business will be around for many years to come.