The owners of The Clock Shop will open what they call a natural progression for their business - a pawn shop - on Monday around the corner on Seventh Street.

But Chris Johnson is quick to explain this is not your typical pawn shop. "Museum-grade," he calls it.

"Seventh Street used to be the central area for pawn shops in Rapid City," Johnson said. "They got cleaned out of there. This is going to be the return of pawn downtown, but we're kind of slicing it a different way."

Presidential Pawn is at 610 Seventh St. in the space formerly home to the Windsor Block Grocery and prior to that the Body Builder Christian Bookstore.

The space has dark, plush carpeting and warm lighting from home-style fixtures, casting a glow on items like a 1940 Harley-Davidson, a set of Revolutionary War-era portraits and framed, signed letters from Elvis Presley to a woman in Pierre.

If the shop is starting to sound familiar, maybe you've been watching TV.

"People for a long time now have been saying to us, when are you going to get your own History Channel show?" said Johnson, referring to the popular Pawn Stars reality show about a three-generation family-owned pawn shop in Las Vegas that specializes in unique and historical items.

"People say to me and my son, we seem a lot like Rick and Big Hoss," from the History Channel show, Chris Johnson said. "Every family has its share of butting the heads. We don't make any cover up on that."

But the family, including Chris Johnson; his wife, Kris; and son, Trevor, enjoys being in business together, and they have been successful after 10 years of owning the Clock Shop.

"Bottom line is, we just want to have fun," Johnson said.

The pawn shop idea, he said, was "Trevor's brainchild," one that came during the recent recession.

"We found pretty quickly that we were going to have to diversify,"

To that end, they began buying gold about two years ago, now sometimes spending a quarter-million dollars on gold in a week. Most famously, they bought the "icebox nugget," the biggest uncontested gold nugget found in the Black Hills in over a century. It contains nearly four ounces of gold.

While they have long been buying and selling antiques at The Clock Shop, Johnson said, "I didn't want to turn The Clock Shop into a pawn shop because The Clock Shop has always been The Clock Shop, and it's where people come to get their $2 watch batteries."

He hopes the new store will become a destination for tourists and locals who will want to come to see what's new.

Johnson said the shop will have an extensive jewelry selection, especially rings, but other than that it won't compete much with other pawn shops. The merchandise comes mostly from area residents looking to sell a special item or clean out an attic.

"People have gone to their friends and relatives and said, ‘The Clock Shop is buying these things,' " Johnson said. "It comes in the door."

Johnson said he understands that in a sense, his business is able to expand because of a slowdown in the economy - people are looking to sell and pawn their possessions to raise cash.

"Certainly we're taking advantage of some of those things, but at the same token we're adding jobs and we're helping the local economy," he said. In the past two years he has increased his staff from seven to 13.

"We're responding to what the market is wanting from us."

The shop will be open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. on Sundays. Call 342-7296 for more information.

Contact Barbara Soderlin at 394-8417 or barbara.soderlin@rapidcityjournal.com.