Carrie Rengers

A-OK center at New Leaf Plaza finally ready to open

Bruce Harris is opening his newest A-OK center at New Leaf Plaza. It’s going to be like a department store in which shoppers can move among his five retail outlets indoors without having to go back outside.
Bruce Harris is opening his newest A-OK center at New Leaf Plaza. It’s going to be like a department store in which shoppers can move among his five retail outlets indoors without having to go back outside. The Wichita Eagle

Bruce Harris’ new A-OK center at New Leaf Plaza finally is ready to open.

“This damn project’s been two years in the making,” he says.

That’s about a year and a half longer than he planned.

“I’ve been through hell.”

Harris says there have been changes in permitting at the center, which is at the southwest corner of 21st and Amidon, along with other issues. Though he says he’s quick to blame contractors, Harris says the main problem has been him.

“Most of it is me changing my mind,” he says. “I keep finding ways to make it better, so I have to keep changing what I started.”

Originally, Harris planned a 24,000-square-foot center within the 120,000-square-foot development.

Instead, he built 34,000 square feet between Wal-Mart and Planet Fitness.

“This whole concept I’m doing over here is (a) brand new thing, and I’m inventing it as I go,” Harris says. “Slowly but surely I’ve gotten through it, and I’m ending up with one very, very amazing, beautiful store.”

Like his five other pawn centers, there will be the main A-OK Pawn Shop, an A-OK Cash Center, a One Day Jewelry & Repair and a Cricket Wireless. There also will be a Better Living lease-to-own furniture store, which Harris calls his “first one out of the box.” There will be an outdoor living center at the store, too, and Harris says he plans to eventually put a Better Living store at all his centers.

The main difference at New Leaf, though, is that each store is going to be connected.

“When you go inside it’s like a mall,” Harris says. “Once you’re in there, you can venture through to the other areas. Each department you go into, it’s like you’re in a whole new store.”

He says the result “is better than most department stores around town.”

Harris says the concept is new in the pawn business.

“I’m going to revolutionize the industry,” he says.

“It’s all the different things a consumer needs,” Harris says. “It is the epitome of being diversified.”

He says everything in the pawn shop will be lease-to-own in addition to being available for immediate sale.

The center’s grand opening is Nov. 8, but each of the stores is having a soft opening before then.

“Everything’s happening all at once as quick as I can put (it) together,” Harris says.

Seth Gold of “Hardcore Pawn” will be at the grand opening.

With the opening, New Leaf will be 70 percent full. S&G Associates, which does TSA pre checks, recently expanded there, and Harris says he’ll have some more announcements within a week.

Next, Harris says he wants to remodel his other centers to be like the one at New Leaf. He also wants to add 11,000 square feet to his 4,000-square-foot center at 410 N. West St.

“It is huge,” he says.

Harris says that project has been behind as well. Though he keeps refining his concept, Harris says the end product after the evolution will be worth it.

He says the National Pawnbroker magazine is doing a cover story on him and his concept.

Though he says he’s actually always wanted to be on the cover of Rolling Stone, this will work.

“Instead I’m going to be on the cover of the National Pawn magazine holding a Rolling Stone magazine. I’ll get my way one way or the other.”

Reach Carrie Rengers at 316-268-6340 or crengers@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @CarrieRengers.

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