By Jessica Borders
Times West Virginian
At West Side Trading Post, owner Josh Price is doing what he loves and what he calls his “dream job.”
About a year ago, he opened his pawn shop in downtown Fairmont at 311 Cleveland Ave., on the street level of the six-story building across from Huntington Bank.
West Side Trading Post buys, sells and trades a variety of merchandise. The store has a selection of over a thousand movies, which Price said are “the cheapest DVDs in town,” and features a lot of gold and silver jewelry. Customers can also find tools, weedeaters, fishing equipment, antiques, guitars and other instruments, and more.
“I take anything that has some kind of value to it, and I think I can get rid of,” he said.
Price said West Side Trading Post is constantly getting new items, and he is continually surprised by the unique objects people bring into the shop.
“Just when something strange comes in or something exciting ... then the next day it seems like there’s something crazier,” he said. “I really see all walks of life here. It’s an experience that I don’t think you could get at any other job.”
When customers visit the store with an item and ask Price how much money he will pay or loan, they often next go to other places to find out their deals. But nine times out of 10, they come back to West Side Trading Post, Price said.
“We just treat people fairly,” he said.
The store currently averages about 50 to 70 customers a day, including a lot of regulars who like to visit different pawn shops on a weekly basis to see what’s new. With its comfortable atmosphere, West Side Trading Post is also a place where people come to drink coffee and chat.
“I just really enjoy this business,” Price said. “It’s very rewarding because you help people out a lot.”
He said that according to Guinness World Records, he is supposedly the youngest licensed pawnbroker in the world. Price, who is now 22 years old, obtained his license and opened his store when he was 21. He explained that this record isn’t among the ones that Guinness publishes, but he believes the designation has actually brought in a lot of customers.
Price, a lifelong Marion County resident, is originally from Rachel and now lives in Katy. In 2005, he started an eBay business out of his basement, but he later ran out of room for all the items he was selling.
One day, he noticed a “For Rent” sign at the storefront on Cleveland Avenue. Price saw that the venue had a lot of show room space that he could utilize and decided to open a pawn shop there.
He spent about six months obtaining the proper licenses and getting the space ready to go. He does woodworking and made all the countertops, display cases and cabinets himself.
West Side Trading Post’s first day of business went so well that Price thought it must have been a fluke, and he expected everything to go downhill from there. But, to his surprise, business has continued to climb since then and is getting bigger and bigger.
He is very thankful for this success, and for the support his friends and family have provided along the way.
“Every single member of my family was helpful at some point, in some way,” Price said. “I couldn’t have done it without them.
He is also a steelworker at Swanson Plating in Morgantown, where he has been employed for three years. His dad, Todd Price, who has worked at Swanson for about 25 years, is a great mechanic and can fix about anything. Josh said he owes a lot to his father.
“Anytime I’m making a big decision, I’ve always asked my dad,” he said.
Price said the trading business is in his blood. His grandpa, Junior Byard, and his late step-grandpa, Leanol Root, were both in the horse and cattle trading business. He remembers accompanying them on a lot of horse and cattle deals when he was a kid, and he learned a great deal in the process.
His other grandpa, the late John Price, was an excellent carpenter and taught Josh everything he knows about cabinetry and carpentry.
Right now, the showroom is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and West Side Trading Post can be reached by phone 24 hours a day, seven days a week for appointments or more information. Customers can call the business at 304-677-8960.
Email Jessica Borders at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter @JBordersTWV.