Rod Lyver has made perhaps the biggest trade-off in his entire life.
The Corner Brook native’s business, Rod’s New to You, had been a mainstay of downtown Corner Brook for nearly two dozen years.
Its run actually lasted for 23 years, 10 months and six days, according to Lyver’s own calculation.
Lyver recently sold all of the inventory in his pawn shop on Herald Avenue and is moving to Paradise, where he hopes to open a similar business in the next month or two.
A lot of people from all over Newfoundland and Labrador strolled through his store to check out the second-hand wares he had for sale. He’s going to miss those folks, but he has had enough of travelling back and forth the island these last three and a half years to visit his new partner in life.
“I never left there because the business wasn’t good or the people weren’t good,” he said in a phone interview from Paradise Saturday. “There were a lot of good people who came through that door over the years. But, I met somebody and have a relationship with someone. I’m in Corner Brook and they are in Paradise. It was time to move on.”
The pawn shop business was something Lyver had been interested in since he was a 13-year-old kid who would get a few hours of work at a furniture store on Broadway every Saturday. When he was 17, he got a job at The Trading Post, a newly opened pawn shop on Broadway.
He got his own start after striking a deal with the manager of the former Corner Brook Co-op to purchase a surplus of that department store’s dry goods for $350. Lyver set up at a flea market and made enough money off those goods to start up Rod’s New to You on April 22, 1990.
“I had $32 in my pocket and my father’s truck,” he said of the humble start. “Dad put a tank of gas in the truck for me and I was off.”
He still remembers his first sale: a floor model television to a woman who lived on Petley Street.
The first outlet was on Curling Street, but Lyver outgrew the location in six months. In the fall of 1990, he moved the business to its Herald Avenue location.
Lyver never looked back after that. He takes great pride that he never had any run-ins with the law, a risk any pawn shop dealer has to always be wary of.
“In the used business, the only thing you have is your integrity,” said Lyver. “You make a deal and try to make everybody happy. There’s no shame. I always said, if I wouldn’t take it home, I wouldn’t take it to my store.”
New to You Pawn
There will still be a pawn shop at the same location. Lyver, who has maintained the Rod’s New to You brand, sold all of his stock to Kerry Park, who has opened the store under the name New to You Pawn.
Lyver is glad Park will also be supporting some of the many charities Lyver himself was involved with, particularly the SPCA. He said Park has already donated some of the inventory he doesn’t want to the NL West SPCA.
Besides being a businessman, Lyver was known for his community involvement in Corner Brook. In addition to the SPCA, he was a driving force behind Pet Transfer, a service that has done nearly 2,500 transports of homeless pets to animal shelters and new homes.
“Pet Transfer will continue,” said Lyver. “I don’t need to be in Corner Brook to keep doing that.”
A member of the Masonic Lodge and the Salvation Army advisory committee, Lyver was also active with the Corner Brook Winter Carnival Committee in the past. He served one year as executive director of the now-defunct Corner Brook Economic Development Corporation and was also a member of the Corner Brook Downtown Business Association when that organization spearheaded its downtown beautification initiative.
Lyver also played integral roles in a couple of groups that helped people in need. He was a member of the former Progress Club which raised tens of thousands of dollars for the Humber Valley Association for Independent Living.
In honour of his infant daughter Doreen, who died in 1994 after being born less than two months earlier, Lyver has helped organize an annual wine-tasting dinner with all proceeds going to the neo-natal unit at Western Memorial Regional Hospital in Corner Brook. Those events will also continue, he said.
One thing Lyver has been particularly known for is talking and being active in politics. He is a member of the Liberal party, but admits he supported Fonse Faour, a New Democrat who represented western Newfoundland federally in the House of Commons in the late 1970s.
In university in the 1980s, he used to bang around with some people who went on to become provincially elected Tories, including Ed Byrne, Vaughn Granter and Tom Osborne.
Always having an opinion on municipal politics Lyver only ever took one crack at office himself. He unsuccessfully ran for Corner Brook city council in 2001.
He said the store he ran was always a great place to check the pulse of the community. He compared it to being a taxi driver, a job which he also did in Corner Brook before he opened the store.
“One thing I’ve learned is there’s a lot of good people in this town,” he said of Corner Brook. ”People want to help. They just need someone to say they need help.”