Fans go crazy for pawn

A run­down LA shop has be­come a ma­jor tourist des­ti­na­tion, writes

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - TELEVISION -

ADRAB-look­ing pawn­shop in the heart of Las Ve­gas is now a white-hot tourist des­ti­na­tion be­cause of the re­al­ity TV se­ries Pawn Stars.

Each day, fans flock to the world fa­mous Gold & Sil­ver Pawn Shop to catch the colour­ful characters be­hind the fam­ily-run busi­ness.

Call­ing the shots are co-own­ers Rick Har­ri­son and his pes­simistic fa­ther, Richard ‘‘Old Man’’ Har­ri­son.

Rick’s tow­er­ing son, Corey, aka Big Hoss, and Corey’s goof­ball mate from high school and cult hero em­ployee Austin Rus­sell, bet­ter known as Chum­lee, are the stars.

Pawn Stars, now in its sev­enth sea­son, de­tails the shop’s pur­chases, mainly col­lecta­bles and an­tiques, from random cus­tomers and the his­tory be­hind each item.

It also cap­tures the ca­ma­raderie and fiery clashes when deals go bad, be­tween the main characters.

The se­ries is one of the most pop­u­lar re­al­ity shows on US sub­scrip­tion tele­vi­sion and it airs in Aus­tralia on pay and free TV.

Pawn Stars’ success has stunned Rick, who said his ini­tial aim was to get a se­ries up and run­ning for a cou­ple of sea­sons to pro­mote the store lo­cally.

‘‘We were hop­ing for a sea­son or two to help out busi­ness a lit­tle,’’ Rick says. ‘‘We never thought it would come to this.’’

The Har­risons and Rus­sell are now tele­vi­sion celebri­ties in the US.

While it’s pri­mar­ily a pawn shop they run, the se­ries and store is more col­lectable and mem­o­ra­bilia-based. Rick doesn’t worry peo­ple in the store are there to stalk the show’s stars.

‘‘We’ve gone from ba­si­cally 100 a peo­ple a day to 5000 a day, so we are try­ing to re­flect what best serves our cus­tomer base now,’’ Rick says.

‘‘We still do pawn and buy and sell stuff, we do a lot of T-shirts. ‘‘We’re here al­most all of the time.’’ With cam­eras flash­ing on a con­stant ba­sis in the store, it’s forced changes in the way they now deal with cus­tomers, says Corey.

‘‘We have to run the store from the back now. If I’m here try­ing to sell some­one a watch, it’s hard with 25 peo­ple snap­ping pho­tos of me while I do it.

Ve­gas be­ing Ve­gas, Corey is con­stantly of­fered fake Rolex watches to buy and usu­ally the per­son sell­ing it has just bought it for a bargain. ‘‘We see at least one fake Rolex a day and that’s the sad thing, peo­ple are buy­ing this stuff as­sum­ing that it’s real,’’ Corey says.

‘‘They’ve got taken by some­one then try and come and take me with it.’’

Chas­tised by his fa­ther for be­ing grossly over­weight and of­fered fit­ness ses­sions, Corey has now man­aged to slim him­self down.

He has shed more than 60kg fol­low­ing lap band (gas­tric band­ing) surgery in 2010 and he ex­plained why his weight fluc­tu­ates so of­ten on the se­ries which first aired in 2009.

‘‘We don’t get to pick what is coming into the shop and one day I might have three gui­tars coming in,’’ Corey says.

‘‘You don’t want to do an en­tire episode on three gui­tars so you try and mix and match the scenes in each episode.

‘‘That’s why some episodes I weigh 400 pounds (181kg) and in oth­ers I look 250 pounds (113kg).’’

7pm, A&E


Brothers Corey and Rick with dad Richard Har­ri­son at their Las Ve­gas shop.

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