A pawn shop, that's one of the things I love in Hot Springs. I know it sounds weird, usually I write about history and love and artsy stuff...but let me make a case of Pak Plaza Pawn Shop.
First, pawn shops in general are an unbelievably cool place to find unique, weird and brilliant treasures. Sure, Pak Plaza has mountains of ammunition, thousands of knives and guns, new and used, ARs to little pink and purple "ladies pistols", tools and georgous vintage jewelry. Looking for a cello, sure, there's one over in the corner, a collection of hand carved walking sticks with swords inside, of course, Klipsch speakers the size of the kitchen table, you bet, maybe you just really have to have a full size stuffed peacock, head to the pawn shop.
But it's the family at Pak Plaza that makes it so different. Olympia Pakis, daughter of the owner Steve, is a tiny and extraordinary young lady who runs a pawn shop like a boss, She runs that store like a 280 pound 55 year old man named Harvey, because she was born the to pawn business.
One of the first things Olympia ever said to me was, "We understand that when people are
coming into a pawn shop they probably aren't having a very good day. So, we really try to be nice and take care of people."
And I know this to be an absolute fact. When my husband, Alex and I first got together almost 30 years ago we were so poor and in love. When our two oldest kids, Mary and Jack, came home from school and the electricity had been turned off, the same thing always happened. I told them to get a snack then go sit on the trampoline and do their home work. Then I'd call Alex who would leave work, come home, get his 9mm pistol, go to Pak Plaza and pawn it for 80 or 90 dollars, enough to get the power turned back on. This happened five or six times in our first five years together. And we always got his gun back. In fact we still have that 9mm.
At that time we were the working poor. We didn't have anything in savings and no bank would loan us money, but Pak Plaza did. And things haven't changed there. Olympia showed me their back storage room which is twice the size of the store. It's crammed with everything from a coat of armor to scuba tanks, more guns, antique silver and some things that appear to have zero value. But Olympia explained old people who don't have enough money to make it to the end of the month, maybe they need their medication, will pawn the same things every month just to get by. When they get their disability or Social Security they come pick up their stuff. Some have been doing this every month....for years.
Pak Plaza Pawn is their safety net.
Olympia's grandfather, Jack Pakis, who she calls Paupou (they are Greek- Americans), started running a pawn shop in
the 700 block of Central back in the 1940's. The Pakis family has been a part of the Hot Springs fabric for a long time. Just another reason to love the Spa City.
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