At one time, pawn shops across the country looked up the value of guns, guitars, gold and everything in between in thick indexes published right here in Durango.
Now, values are determined in seconds with an internet search. The next wave of technological innovation won’t be coming at Colorado Trading Co., one of Durango’s three pawn shops. Owner Cole Hyson plans to complete his last sales Monday and close the store for good Wednesday.
The technology needed to run a pawn shop might have changed since 1991, when Hyson opened the shop with his parents, but the purpose they serve has remained constant – helping out folks whom banks won’t touch with small, quick loans until their next paychecks.
“Some of my customers I know so well that if they needed a loan on a painted rock, I’d give them a loan on a painted rock. Because I knew they were coming back to get it, right. So it really didn’t matter what the item was. I had that type of relationship with a lot of my customers,” Hyson said. “Some of my customers are really bummed I’m going out of business.”
Running the pawn shop came as Plan B for Hyson, who had aspirations of pitching in the major leagues before he blew out his arm in the minor leagues.
“I’ve even got a fake shoulder right now,” Hyson said. “I’ve just had it done two years ago, a polymer socket and stainless-steel ball joint,” he said.
Running pawn shops was a family specialty, and Hyson said working at a family shop was an ideal winter job for an aspiring ace pitcher.
“When I came home in the offseason, it was hard to find a job. Everybody knew I was gonna be leaving for spring training. So, I ended up having an idea. My mom’s family in Kansas had just opened their second pawn shop. And I went out and spent some time with them for five days and tried to figure something out, and I came back and opened up.”
Hyson played college baseball with the University of Arkansas and eventually was drafted in the ninth round by the Houston Astros. He played in the minor league organizations of the Astros and the San Diego Padres before his arm gave out.
Growing up in Yuma, Arizona, and watching spring training led Hyson to his first love, baseball, and the family specialization running pawn shops came as a natural choice after his arm nixed his major league dreams.
The family vibe at Colorado Trading was a constant in its more than 28 years of operation.
“My dad loved to come in, and he worked a little bit. But he’d love to come in and just visit with people. He’d sit here, and then people would come visit him. All of a sudden, I’ve got a crew. And every day, I’d have four or five,” he said.
Hyson put in a table and the chat group became a shop staple.
“All the old Durango boys just come in. It was a place for them to catch up and BS and tell jokes,” he said.
Hyson’s father died in 2011, but the group of old Durango boys remained shop regulars.
“Everybody would show up and just sit because they knew somebody was going to be here they could visit with. Yeah, I’m gonna miss that,” he said.
Hyson is thankful the shop thrived in Durango for 29 years.
He and his wife, Jennifer, were able to raise their four sons – Laken, 28; Kayden, 26; Max, 20 and Fynn, 18 – backed by the strength of the pawn shop.
However, Hyson decided to sell the shop to Travis Kirkpatrick, owner of KP Pawn & Sales and explore a new business venture.
Kirkpatrick plans to consolidate whatever stock hasn’t been sold by Monday at his shop located at 495 E. College Drive. Kirkpatrick also operates KP pawn shops in Ignacio and Cortez.
“I’ve met most his guys, and they’re really a nice group of guys and he’s doing it well and he’s energetic. They’ll do well,” Hyson said.
Hyson will be working with a lifelong friend in a new venture, called Builder’s Rental, that will specialize in renting heavy equipment for construction in the Bayfield Industrial Park.
“I told everybody: ‘I’m not moving to the Bahamas or something. I’m still gonna be around. Right? I’ll still see everyone. I’ll still be around.”