Estate Jewelry and Loan will soon open on Reid Avenue but Port St. Joe city commissioner’s reaction to the word “loan” raised questions regarding Nicholas DiLallo’s business.
Due to an ordinance set in 1969 requiring pawn licenses to be issued only with approval by city commissioners. DiLallo went before the group last month and made his request but the request was tabled.
Commissioner Rex Buzzett and Mayor Mel Magidson, Jr. were apprehensive about the pawn aspect of the business and wanted to discuss the addition with other business owners in the area.
The commissioners scheduled a hearing for Tuesday where a final decision will be reached.
“My concern was that it appeared we may be approving something so rapidly that other businesses may not find out what he’s doing,” said Buzzett. “We wanted to make sure it was compatible with what Reid Avenue has done over the past few years with the façade program.”
According to DiLallo, his business will be focused on jewelry and hard-to-find collectibles that include sports memorabilia, bronzes and paintings.
With the permission of commissioners he plans to offer discreet loan services for those in need.
“There aren’t going to be neon lights everywhere. It’s not going to be lawnmowers and junk,” said DiLallo, who moved to the area last month from Miami. “I believe in my heart that Port St. Joe could use a jewelry store.
“I collect older things that people look for. I go to watch shows all over the country. I can get things that people are going to want, and if they’re looking for something in particular, I want to be their local guy.”
DiLallo said that there hadn’t been a stable jewelry store in town since 1970 and aimed to remedy that.
Since DiLallo purchased the building on Reid Avenue that he will share with Joseph’s Cottage, there has been an air of mystery around the shop.
The windows have been covered with brown paper and very few people have been inside.
DiLallo said that he’s not hiding anything, but rather is proud of the renovations he completed on the storefront and wanted to build anticipation for the grand opening.
“If locals want to buy a nice piece of jewelry or watch for a birthday present or anniversary gift, I can do that for them,” he said. “Right now, if they need to buy a watch battery, they have to go all the way to Panama City.”
Patrick Jones of Talcor Commercial Real Estate sold DiLallo the building in January and praised the owner for the upgrades he made to the space.
“It will blend in with everything else we have on Reid and tourists will see its value and quality,” said Jones. “(DiLallo) has invested money into the community and that’s a positive aspect.”
The business owner and his wife, Theresa, vacationed to Gulf County three times a year for the last eight years. Like many of those who visit the area, they fell in love with the beaches, weather and community that was smaller and tightly knit.
“It’s where we want to retire,” said DiLallo. “People here go to church on Sunday. Not everyone’s rushing around like in Miami.”
Since 1992 DiLallo has worked in the Miami pawn business. Over the years he has accumulated rare jewelry of all types, interesting collectibles and antiques. He said that he enjoyed making the deal and having fun in the process.
“It’s my thing,” said DiLallo. “People will be able to get second-hand goods at a great deal.”
After saving for 25 years, DiLallo sold his Miami store last month and bought a home in Mexico Beach.
He plans for Estate Jewelry and Loan to be open by the end of October in time for the annual Ghosts on the Coast event.
“I want to serve the locals and the tourists,” said DiLallo. “I want people to see that we’re there, and a part of it.”
Despite the initial tabling of the application for a pawn license, Buzzett seemed supportive of DiLallo’s endeavor.
“It’s a quality-looking place and I think it’ll be fine, but we have to be careful about what we allow,” said the commissioner. “The next guy may not have the quality vision that Nicholas does. We don’t want to open a can of worms.”