iCare Community Magazine
1st Choice Jewelry & Pawn - an exclusive interview with Pam and James Christmas
Hi James, please tell us about yourself and your mother Pam, and your family:
I grew up in the woods of Lehigh Acres, Florida, where I graduated from Lehigh Senior High School and worked in the electrical trade.
My family moved to Okeechobee in 2000, where we worked as electricians for the Dept. Of Corrections. Due to the slow economy I was laid off, and I was able to do handyman work for people I knew in Okeechobee, which enabled me and my Mom to open a small booth at the flea market where we sold used items. It was here where I met the owners of Williams Pawn & Gun, they offered my Mom and me a job and the rest are history!
Tell us about the beginnings of your experience with the pawn shop business:
Working at the pawn shop was right up my alley, I knew about the tools and guns and my Mom knew about the jewelry and we both enjoyed selling. Working with Brian Williams helped me to learn about jewelry and running a pawn business. In 2013 the Williams family wanted to free up their time and offered to sell the business to us and the other employee, Joy. We three agreed to buy it, and enjoyed every second of being the new owners. In 2018 Joy retired, we decided to retire the business name with her, and opened as 1st Choice Jewelry & Pawn, and we hired my nephew to keep it in the family.
What would you say is your favorite part about owning a pawn shop?
My favorite part is all about the people we meet, from all kinds of walks of life, including the things they bring to our store. As soon as you think you’ve seen it all, someone brings in something new to see. All the different items that come through our doors have some kind of story with them.
What is your philosophy on business and life?
Being here for our town when people need us is the best feeling. Knowing we are here to help. Helping them find just the right items for themselves and for their families, gifts for friends and relatives, both new and used. We base our business on honesty and friendly help to our community, our store is our pride and joy. Recently we added all new cabinets and counters to create a different new look to the store, making it a more enjoyable shopping experience. We pride ourselves on great deals and negotiable prices.
What are some of your happiest moments?
We love to see our customer’s faces when their items come in or they find that special something on the shelf. We can order most anything, and we are happy to search and find it. Our jewelry selection is amazing, always puts a smile on a face. We offer repairs with our Master Jeweler.
How do you like to give back to our community?
We are proud to support our local church foundations, the FFA kids, all first responders, and any law enforcement activities in our community.
Stop by, take a quick look at our remodeled store. Make us your first choice, I promise you’ll be very glad you did!