Karen Hellier is a freelance writer and eBay entrepreneur. She lives happily in the mountains of North Georgia with her husband and her dog.
'Pawn Stars': How It Compares in Reality
I have long enjoyed the show Pawn Stars on the History Channel. If you are unfamiliar with it, the show has been on since 2009 and stars Rick Harrison, his father (a.k.a. "The Old Man)," Rick's son Corey, and Corey's friend (who is nicknamed "Chumlee").
The show is filmed in the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop, which is in downtown Las Vegas. Rick Harrison's father opened the shop and Rick joined him, followed many years later by Rick's son Corey. Corey brought along his friend Chumlee, and together they comprise the basis of the show. If you aren't familiar with the Pawn Stars show, you can watch three of the four main stars in the video below.
I recently went to the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop and wanted to share the experience with you so that you get an idea how visiting the shop compares to what you see on the History Channel TV show.
If you are fortunate, when you arrive at the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop there won't be a line outside the door. If there is a line, you will have to wait in line until some of the people inside the store come out. There is a man at the door that is in charge of counting the number of people that are coming out of the store, and he allows the same number of people to go in from the line. Why is he doing this you may be asking? The store is fairly small and narrow, so it doesn't hold a lot of people at the same time without creating a fire hazard.
Layout of the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop
Once inside the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop, you will probably be surprised at how narrow it is. The store is long and narrow, and filled with all kinds of items on both sides. Just like in the television show, you will see glass cases to peruse, and lots more items on the shop walls.
I wandered around and was asked a few times if I needed any help, or had any questions. After the third time, I was asked if I had any questions, I decided to ask a few. I learned that the original Gold & Silver Pawn Shop has been expanded three different times after the shop went on TV. The staff person I spoke with even showed me on the ceiling where each part had been expanded.
The first expansion was so that a gift shop could be added to the shop. The gift shop features magnets, key chains, coffee mugs, t-shirts with the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop insignia on it. The gift shop also features Rick Harrison's book, License to Pawn: Deals, Steals, and My Life at the Gold & Silver. I have read this book and found it an interesting perspective on Rick Harrison's life and what led him to join with his father in the pawn business. I recommend it to anyone interested in finding out more about Rick, the shop, and the show.
Next was an area that could hold more items, mostly in glass cases, and art on the wall. But this part also has a photo machine which allows you to take a picture of yourself, framed by Rick Harrison, The Old Man, Corey and Chumlee around the bottom, and the store behind you. Once you take your photo here, you can share it with your friends through email, or on social media through Facebook and Twitter. It's a lot of fun and free to do so it's hard to resist!
The last section of the shop holds mostly art on the walls, but there is an area in that last expansion with cardboard cutouts of Rick Harrison and his father, The Old Man that visitors can stand next to and have someone take their photo. On the wall behind the cutouts is a television set that features Rick Harrison talking about different items in the shop.
Items Available for Purchase at the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop
Visitors are free to mill around and look at all of the items for sale in the shop. One of my favorite things to do when I was there was to see the items that were featured on the television show and to try to remember if I saw them when they were featured. If they were on the show, they were marked with a special tag.
I was amazed at the prices of some of the items in the shop. The most expensive things I saw were the artwork, and some of the jewelry, such as some of the Superbowl rings. Although it is fun to visit the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop because you are really entering the set of a television show, which just happens to also be a business, the visit is very educational. I am pretty sure most people will never be able to see an authentic Superbowl ring in person unless they visit the shop.
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The walkways inside the store are roped so that as you walk in. you follow the shelving and glass cases on your right, and there are poles with ropes on your left. So you are guided by the ropes to walk past the gift shop area, straight to the back of the store on your right, then loop around, going past the gift shop, and to the back where the interactive camera is, and the cutouts of Rick Harrison and the Old man, then you continue around and head back to the front of the store, this time looking at cases on your right, being guided by ropes on your left.
At the front of the store and to your right is the office area where Rick Harrison and the other stars of the show hang out in Pawn Stars. But this area is blocked to the public so you can't go over there unless you have brought something to pawn and actually want to do business with the shop.
Once you have completed the loop of the shop, and just before you head out the front door, on the right-hand side you will come to the gun case. There are a lot of those guns that were featured on the television show so if you are interested in antique guns, you won't want to miss that area.
My Two Visits to the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop
I have actually visited the Gold & Silver and Shop twice. The first time was a few years ago. I stopped by shortly after they had finished filming a show, and I was fortunate enough to have been there when they made an announcement over a loudspeaker that Chumlee was in the store and had agreed to meet and greet people over at one side of the store. He signed autographs and posed for photos with people. It was quite exciting and I bought a postcard for him to sign.
During my second visit, I was not able to meet any of the stars of the show, but I was impressed that now they have staff walking around the store and willing to answer any questions that visitors may have.
I learned a lot by talking with one of the staff members, including the three additions that have been done to the store, and he also informed me that the main members of the show are not at the store very much unless they are filming for the show. One of the major reasons for this s that three of the four stars of the show are involved in other businesses now. He told me that across the parking lot of the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop, Rick Harrison has opened a BBQ restaurant and a bar called Rick's Rollin Smoke Barbeque & Tavern. And some nights during the week, he even bartends and people can go there, order a drink, and met him in person. Underneath this restaurant/bar is a candy store, Chumlee's Candy, owned by Chumlee and his brother Sage.
Not far from the Gold and Silver Pawn Shop, in downtown Las Vegas, is a bar called The Beauty Bar, and Rick Harrison's son Corey co-owns that.
So the guys are very busy and have other staff members manning the Gold and Silver Pan Shop most of the time.
Since I was already so close to Rick Harrison's and Chumlee's new ventures, I just had to walk across the parking lot and see them. I am not a big BBQ fan, and it was too early for a drink, so I just peeked in at Rick's restaurant.
But I couldn't resist going into Chumlee's Candy store. Outside the candy store is a cardboard cutout of Chumlee, so I had a passerby take a photo of me and Chumlee just to prove I had been there. The sign outside encourages people to post their photo on Twitter or Instagram, and so of course, I did!
Chumlee's Candy is the smallest store I have ever been in in my life. But really, how big does a candy store need to be? The walls were lined with different types of candy and I ended up talking to the young man behind the counter who is actually Chumlee's brother Sage.
He told me that on certain days of the week, Chumlee is in the store working the cash register. I asked how large the store is and he said it's approximately 200 square feet, which as you might be able to imagine, is not very big.
I decided to purchase something just to support Chumlee and have it as a souvenir. I love chocolate so I bought a candy bar that was actually signed by Chumlee. Chumlee's candy is the perfect place for visitor's to Las Vegas to go and purchase souvenir candy to bring home to friends and family. And for the price conscious consumer, the price of a Chumlee signed candy bar is much less expensive than buying a t-shirt.
If you are heading to Las Vegas and will be in the downtown Las Vegas area, I highly recommend a visit to the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop. It is free to visit and is educational not only from the standpoint of seeing where a television show is filmed, but also from the standpoint of being able to see antique items, art by legendary artists, and items that once belonged to top athletes and movie stars.
The Old Man
I wrote this article just prior to when Rick Harrison's father, aka 'The Old Man" died so when you take this poll, you can still vote for him as someone you would have most have liked to meet, but that's no longer possible.
He will be missed by many, me included.
© 2018 Karen Hellier