The gorillas aren’t going anywhere: New pawn shop owner to keep quirky Mississippi landmarks

Published 5:14 pm Friday, May 3, 2024

The three gorillas that started as an advertising gimmick and turned a pawnshop into a well-known Mississippi landmark are going nowhere.

Love them or hate them, one thing is true: with their neon colors and oversized presence, the gorillas at Top Dollar Pawn have become a Vicksburg treasure. They have long been the subject of many debates, both for and against the conspicuous creatures.

New owner Wesley Nichols is taking over from long-time proprietor Joan Tremaine and has no plans to change the gorillas. Nichols said placing large animal figures in front of pawn shops is an ancient tradition.

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“The idea is that the animals protect the pawn (shop),” Nichols said.

Although the store may have a new owner, Nichols said he wants to keep the atmosphere that has made the shop a Vicksburg go-to for locals.

“I still want it to have the ‘mom and pop’ feel,” he said.

Nichols also emphasized that it is important to him to maintain the down-to-earth, friendly atmosphere the store has long prided itself on. As a pawn shop owner, he said it is essential that customers understand the pawning process and feel valued.

Nichols said he has fond memories of visiting a particular pawn shop as a child, and being impressed by the gun choices. His goal is to eventually have the largest used gun selection in Vicksburg. He has an experienced background in gun sales and is licensed by the state to sell guns.

While customer service won’t change, Nichols does plan to make a few alterations. He has brightened the lighting system inside the store and plans to paint and reorganize the inventory.

One major change will involve updating technology at the shop, beginning with an overhaul of the computer system. A bar coding system will be implemented, as well as an increase in sales exposure via internet platforms.

On Saturday, the store will have a sale with everything marked 50% off except guns, archery and ammunition. A large inventory of televisions, tools and other miscellaneous items will be discounted. Although the sale will be Saturday only, Nichols encourages people to stop by and see the inventory and says “I’ll always work a bargain out.”

Joan and Phil Tremaine opened the shop 40 years ago and Nichols said he is excited to continue the tradition of great customer service and a unique welcome – via the gorillas – the couple began .