Pawn Stars: Taking a Stroll Though History
ModernMom.com (full page article here) has a great write up from a couple of parents and their children that took a tour of the pawn shop recently.
The World Famous Gold & SIlver Pawn Shop
Visiting the Pawn Stars in Las Vegas, Nevada is a real treat. Besides the obvious cool factor of visiting the set of a working television show, you get chance to take a stroll through history. It’s almost like shopping in a museum, every little bit of history that you see is yours to take home… for the right price.
In 2011, we were first introduced to the Pawn Stars show by Andy’s parents. They raved about the show and how interesting it was. Our first reaction was, why would anyone want to watch a show about a pawn shop?
We reluctantly watched an episode, hoping it wouldn’t be too painful. How wrong we were! It was the episode where someone asked about the infamous, “Death Clock.” Rick Harrison came on the screen and explained that so much mercury was used in the making of the clock that the person making it would have died, but not before going mad from the lethal exposure. We were hooked, but then sad that the 30-minute show was over. The History Channel had apparently anticipated our disappointment and aired another episode immediately after. History usually plays 4 to 8 episodes per week (check your local listings for time/date) so your DVR will never be wanting for something to record.
Besides the history lesson, you also learn about what it takes to run a business. As Rick, Mr. H (The Old Man), Cory (Big Hoss) and Chumlee negotiate sellers down from their lofty prices, they frequently remind us they can’t pay retail because they have rent, payroll, electricity and all the other bills it takes to keep their business running.
If you’ve watched the show at all you know that Rick and his father Richard Sr. started the shop in 1981 as a Gold and Silver Store and in 1988 it changed to the Gold and Silver Pawn Shop. It’s called the Gold and Silver Pawn Shop because the Mr. H loves, well, gold and silver. Cory has been hanging around the shop since he was a kid and eventually went to work there full time in 2003. Chumlee, Cory’s best friend since grade school, soon followed in 2004. But it wasn’t until Rick decided to take the shop on the aire that things really took off. Today they employ 49 people and do more business than all the other Las Vegas pawn shops combined.
Naturally, we were excited when we got our invitation to have a VIP tour of the store and a chance to meet the cast. Our trip started Sunday as we pulled out of our home in Toluca Lake, CA. Kennedy had decided to chronicle the entire trip in her notebook. She also took notes during the tour and asked her best reporter questions to our tour guide. On Monday morning, we were met up with Pawn Stars publicist, Laura Herlavich, who introduced us to our tour guide Andy Spyer. Andy also serves as their chief of security, but he takes time off his busy schedule to escort the special guests around the shop and probably to make sure we stay out of the restricted areas.
As we stepped into the back area we ran immediately into Chumlee and Mr. Harrison Sr. After a quick photo op, Andy took us around the shop showing us some if the more interesting items. We saw a medal from the Civil War, swords, antique guns, canned water from the Cold War and a Navy issue copper dive knife. Kennedy chimed in with exactly the question you’re thinking about. Why would the Navy make a dive knife out of copper? Answer, copper isn’t magnetic and it comes in handy if you need to pull a magnetic mine off the hull of your ship. Of course, why didn’t we think of that? It makes perfect sense. There were also a few more… “modern” items for sale too. Alex made sure he got a gold plated NASCAR model – just because it’s a racecar and cool, not because he really knows who the driver is! What’s not to love?
Andy Spyer explains the history of some items in the shop
“Just my size,” says Bella as she tries on the most expensive item in the shop.
Alex with one of the less historical items in the shop
Continuing on, we were amazed how item after item came with it’s own little history lesson.
Rick Harrison, the shop’s co-owner, insists that it’s not enough to know what something is: you have to know the who, where, when, why and how in order to understand it’s value.
Some items were obvious, like the diamond encrusted Patriots Super Bowl ring (currently the most expensive item in the shop valued at over $100,000 dollars), while others required more understanding. Regardless of what it was, Andy was able to tell us everything you’d want to know.
After we finished looking around the shop we headed to the best part of the tour, the warehouse.
Walking through the warehouse at The Pawn Stars
Like the Louvre, the real show is in the back – because what’s on the shelves is only a fraction of what they have that’s for sale right now. What lay in the back is the result of the shop’s combined 1,000 sales and pawns each and every week.
We saw uniforms from every conflict since the Civil War, a personal hovercraft, (yes, the one we all watched Chumlee play with on the show), beautiful watches, an ornate dowry chest from India and one heck of beautiful vintage 1916 Buick. Sorry folks, this one belongs to the Old Man. Some of it you can read about on their website at http://www.gspawn.com.
When we were done, it was back the front and time to say thank you and goodbye. The kids autographed a copy of our book and presented it to Andy, which he really appreciated. Andy had been a special education teacher back east for years before returning to security work.
Each of the kids signed a copy of our book for our tour guide Andy
As we left, the shop we noticed just how long the line had gotten. Yes, there is a line – at a pawn shop – to even get in the door. Don’t let it turn you off, it moves very quickly, and it’s not like an amusement park where you get to the front and the ride breaks down. We guarantee that everyone you speak to will be ready to tell you all about any little trinket you pick up. Now, we are hooked on the show – and honestly, so are most of our co-workers in the entertainment industry. Go on any film set and we are talking about what happened on the show last week.
We’ll leave you with a story of the final episode we watched with Andy’s parents that first day. A woman came in to the shop to sell her father’s WWII bomber jacket. The lady explained that she had no kids and no one to pass it down to so she wanted someone to be able to buy it and appreciate it. This pawn shop was something special. It was a place we can pass along our treasures to someone who will appreciate them, we know they appreciate them because they are willing to spend their hard earned money on them. To us that’s a better prospect than winding up in a landfill. This was a fantastic experience for our kids – usually autism kind of prevents them from focusing too long on over-stimulating things. Not here! They absolutely loved history they could see and touch – and let’s be honest – so were we. Although on the minus side, it does get rather expensive by the time the kids are finished. No, Bella didn’t get her one hundred thousand dollar ring, Kennedy didn’t get the samurai sword and Alex did not get a classic Buick. Me first.But it sure was nice to have a look around.
Melissa and Andrew Areffi, authors of the new book “Navigating Autism: The Essential How-To By Parents For Parents”, have been married 16 years and have three children. The Los Angeles-based Areffis are both professionals in the entertainment industry: Melissa as a location manager/scout; and Andrew in project development. Together, they’re a feature-film writing team. They wrote “Navigating Autism” because they could not find a book to guide them when daughter Kennedy (10) was diagnosed with autism in 2005. They were still struggling to get assistance when Alex (9) was diagnosed on the spectrum in 2006 and Bella (7) in 2008. The Areffis decided to write their own “how-to” book to make it easier and quicker for other parents to find their way through the medical and educational systems.