Tornado damages spur Tallahassee Gun & Pawn to close after 40 years

After four decades of business, a Tallahassee pawn shop owner has made the decision to close permanently after last month’s tornadoes left his business with a dislodged roof and damages that were far beyond immediate repair.

Owner Bobby Carrouth had every intention to open Tallahassee Gun & Pawn for business as usual on May 10, after three tornadoes struck the capital city, causing costly destruction for local business owners.

When Carrouth was alerted for the first time at 7 a.m. about the South Monroe Street store’s security alarm being set off, he assumed it was triggered by the storm, and told authorities not to assess the property.

After the second alert, Carrouth headed to the storefront to see for himself the damages he initially underestimated, including unrecoverable merchandise.

“I’ve been here in Tallahassee all my life,” Carrouth said Thursday while observing his devastated storefront through the restaurant window at Dog et Al across the street. “I’m 70 years old now, so I’m moving into retirement after the destruction of the store.”

The pawnbroker industry is one that has existed for thousands of years and can be traced back to ancient China, serving as the world’s oldest financial institution, according to the National Pawnbroker Association. This Tallahassee-based shop was no exception to the necessity of a practice that has helped local residents with short-term loan agreements for, at least, the last 40 years. 

It’s hard to not notice the brightly-colored, yellow building that housed Carrouth’s pawn shop for years. He says that business hasn’t missed a beat since opening so long ago, and closing had not been on his mind.

But quickly, it became a harsh reality.

On Tuesday, May 28, Carrouth made it official with a post on Tallahassee Gun & Pawn’s Facebook page announcing the closure:

“After 40 years, Tallahassee Gun & Pawn has closed its doors, due to the destruction of recent tornados. I appreciate your business and the friendships I’ve made through the years. Please share this message so it reaches the community.”

By Thursday afternoon, he had gotten more than 100 responses.

“Sad to hear about your damage from the storm. But I’m happy to hear that you’re moving to the next chapter!” one person wrote.

“Special place with many memories … but can’t wait to see what God has in store for you next! Sending love,” wrote another.

“Thanks for the 40 years of services to our community,” read yet another.

Now, 40 year legacy comes to an end

The Tallahassee native lived in the capital for 30 years before deciding it was time to open a pawn business of his own, following in the footsteps of a few of his high school friends who had taken the same path.

Carrouth and his dad, Jack Carrouth, drove together to the property at 1435 S. South Monroe St. to purchase the vacant building from his uncle, Jep Dove.

Carrouth believes his business has continued to thrive because of the positive interactions he’s had with clients: “That’s one thing I’ve always told people, my employees and all, that if you’re nice to people they’ll come back.”

“Oh, we go there all the time,” said Alain Rodgers, owner of neighboring Euphoria Tattoos. “It’s your typical pawn shop filled with things people are trying to get rid of or have to make rash choices to pawn their stuff to help pay bills. But it was a nice little pawn shop.”

Throughout Carrouth’s time as a pawnbroker, he’s seen quite a few interesting items come in and go out of the store. He recalls one man who would come in and pawn his prosthetic foot every so often. 

Each time, the man would come back to repurchase the foot, until one day he purchased a new one and never returned. For the last 25 years, the size 11 prosthetic right foot has remained on the shelves waiting for its next owner.

More: ‘WAR ZONE’: Tallahassee battered by possible tornado; one dead amid widespread damage

Also: West Tennessee St. business prepares its final goodbye after 48 years of operating

Bittersweet feelings consume Carrouth, who mentioned he is helping his employees secure other jobs, but he is looking forward to more time to golf and fish and to continue working in the prison ministry through his church, St. Peters Anglican Cathedral.

“I’m ready to let it go and move on,” Carrouth said.

To redeem loans, make payments on merchandise or inquire about purchasing the property, contact Carrouth at 850-508-7296. Democrat writer Mycah Brown can be reached at [email protected].

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After four decades of business, a Tallahassee pawn shop owner has made the decision to close permane…