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It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of “Pawn Stars” on the History Channel (or HISTORY, as they prefer to be called). It should surprise no regular visitor to this site, then, that I’ve been trying for many moons to get Rick Harrison, lead luminary in the “Pawn Stars” firmament and owner of Las Vegas’ Gold & Silver Pawn Shop (www.gspawn.com), to tell us about starting out in the pawn biz and what he himself collects.
Rick’s a real busy guy, especially now that the shop is expanding (I hear it’s a regular stop on the Sin City tourist itinerary now); nevertheless, he was gracious enough to reply to a few of our questions. Thanks, Rick!
AmeriCollector: How and when did you get the business started?
Rick Harrison: I’ve been working in the business for close to 30 years. But the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop was not exactly an overnight success. I sought out a pawn license for most of the 1980s, but there was a long-established ordinance that no pawn license would be issued in the city of Vegas until its population exceeded 250,000. The good ol’ boys, back in the ’50s, figured we’ve got our pawnshops, we don’t want any competition, so they passed a law saying that they would issue one more pawn license when there’s 250,000 people in Vegas. This was when there was only 20,000 people in Vegas and nobody ever thought it would get to 250,000. But lo and behold, in 1988, I was the first to get a license.
AC: You’ve said several times on “Pawn Stars” that you might keep for yourself something you bought on those episodes of the show. We know you are excited by unique historic items (like shipwreck salvage), rock and roll (especially The Who) and fast cars. What do you consider your serious collecting areas?
Rick: Rare/historic books, old cars, fine art, military items … really, anything unique and unusual intrigues me.
AC: How do you build your collection? (e.g., through auctions, by visiting shops/dealers – or strictly from people who come into your shop?
Rick: Customers coming into the shop to sell items … or pawn them.
AC: What do you look for when choosing a new addition to your collection?
Rick: Is it rare? Will it make me a profit when I sell it?
Image courtesy of History Channel Press.
See new episodes of “Pawn Stars” Mondays at 10 p.m. EST/9 p.m. CST on the History Channel.