Construction begins on one A-OK Center, second one to follow with more after that

WICHITA — Construction started this week at Bruce Harris’ new A-OK Center at New Leaf Plaza at 21st and Amidon, but that’s hardly the only new thing the pawn shop owner has going on.

“Wichita’s economy is starting to come back,” he says. “This shopping center in the middle of town is going to come alive again.”

The former Marina Lakes is now home to a Walmart Neighborhood Market that Harris says is contributing to those “sparks of life coming along.”

Harris also is about to begin building a new center at 410 N. West St.

It’ll be about 19,000 square feet, and the center at New Leaf will be 25,000 square feet.

“It’s going to be a huge place,” Harris says.

His centers at Harry and Oliver and Harry and Broadway are 18,000 square feet each.

The New Leaf center will be the “same thing on steroids.”

“What we’re doing is changing the way people shop,” Harris says. “We have new, used and lease to own.”

Both new centers and his store at Harry and Oliver will have a Better Living shop, which is Harris’ new lease-to-own concept.

New Leaf and West Street also each will have an A-OK Pawn Shop, One Day Jewelry and Repair, Cricket and A-OK Financial Services, which offers check cashing, payday loans, title loans and tax services.

Harris says the New Leaf center will be the most elaborate.

“I’m going to try to make it a lot of fun,” he says. “It’ll be kind of like Cabela’s.”

What he means is he plans a lot of displays and unusual touches that will “make it a really neat retail atmosphere that you’ve never seen in the pawn industry.”

There will be a dramatic 30-foot ceiling at the entrance of the center where Harris hopes to have something fun, such as a small plane or part of a helicopter hanging.

“We’re going to try to work with the Wichita motif.”

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A-OK Pawn Shop owner Bruce Harris to develop new center on West Street

WICHITA — A-OK Pawn Shop owner Bruce Harris bought and recently tore down a couple of houses near his store at 410 N. West St. with new plans for development there.

“I’m putting in a new shopping center there,” Harris says.

He’s moving his One Day Jewelry & Repair, Cricket store and a financial-services store from Maple and West to the pawn shop’s address. He’ll have additional space to do leases as well.

“I’m just now getting started on it, so I’m not sure what I’m going to do,” Harris says.

He says he knows what the result will be, though.

“We’re beautifying … Wichita, and we’ll have a nice new center to go with the new street.”

Look for more information on Harris’ plans there in the coming weeks.

He’s also still working on centers at Harry and Broadway and at New Leaf Plaza, which was formerly Marina Lakes, at 21st and Amidon.

Harris says financing three new centers at the same time is a challenge.

“I’m trying to work out how to get that done.”

Cherry Creek will be home to a new Cricket store

WICHITA — There’s a new Cricket store going in the Cherry Creek shopping center at Harry and Rock.

Ikoma George, whose company name is Unlimited Wireless, is a Cricket dealer who will sell cell phones and accessories.

He plans to open in 1,400 square feet around April 1.

Lewis Kelley of Landmark Commercial Real Estate represented George. Landmark’s Don Piros represented Cherry Creek.

George says he would like to open more Cricket stores after this.

“I hope so,” he says. “It depends on how this goes.”

A-OK Pawn Shop owner Bruce Harris plans major expansions and new stores

WICHITA — A down economy means business is up for A-OK Enterprises, and owner Bruce Harris has big expansion plans.

“The economy has been very poor, and because of that, people are changing the way they’re shopping, and they’re buying a lot of stuff from me,” he says of his four A-OK Pawn Shops.

All of his businesses — the pawn shops, 12 check-cashing sites, two jewelry stores and two cell phone stores — are doing well.

“In the past year, we’ve doubled our business in the collateral loan business,” Harris says.

As banks turn away business, Harris says people needing money turn to his pawn shops.

Also, gold is at an all-time high of $1,400 an ounce.

“That’s unheard of,” Harris says.

He says $400 an ounce was the average price for the last 20 years.

“It’s helping the consumers.”

Two years ago, Harris had 70 employees throughout his businesses. Now he has 107, and he expects to have more than 200 within a year.

He plans to expand in several ways.

Harris in the process of doubling the size of two Cricket stores he owns.

He’s also looking to open two new pawn shops in Wichita.

“What I have, it just works.”

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