"I'm Rick Harrison, and this is my pawn shop. I work here with my old man, and my son, Big Hoss. Everything in here has a story and a price. One thing I've learned after 21 years—you never know what is gonna come through that door."
Pawn Stars is a reality show on The History Channel about a three generation pawn store called the "Gold & Silver Pawn Shop" operating in Las Vegas (713 Las Vegas Boulevard South, if you're ever in town). It features historical and rare objects being bought and sold by a family of characters.The owner of the shop is Rick Harrison, a shrewd businessman who often finds the most obscure and sometimes bizarre things being brought to his shop to be sold. As he has been in the business for a long time and has other hobbies of his own, Rick is generally knowledgeable in music and American History (especially firearms). Anything that is outside of his expertise and/or needs a more proper appraisal he calls upon an assortment of experts who are Proud to Be a Geek, who are usually the ones giving the history lecture.A big part of the show, and anyone familiar with basic business would know about, is that Rick is generally not willing to purchase an item unless he can get it for about 60% of its market value, and that's not considering any additional costs such as restoration or cataloging, because otherwise he won't make a profit for himself. And not all items are brought into the store itself, as they are often asked to look over exceptionally large items or collections.Also employed in the shop is Rick's father Richard, known as "The Old Man". His purpose is to reprimand workers for being lazy, be the butt of old jokes, and tell When I Was Your Age stories. Rick's son Corey, known as Big Hoss, also works at the store and is learning the business in order to someday inherit the store - which leads to some father/son conflict. The fourth main character is Austin "Chumlee" Russell, a long time friend of Corey and the shop Butt Monkey, who is hinted to be smarter than he looks.The series has proven so popular that it led to a spin-off series, Cajun Pawn Stars, which is basically Pawn StarsIN THE SOUTH! Rick and Co. are reportedly not pleased.Rick took so much old stuff to be restored to another guy named Rick, Rick Dale, who runs a Las Vegas antique restoration company, that another spin off, American Restoration was created, which shows them restoring old things like old toys, gas pumps, coke machines and other vending machines, and various other things.Yet another spin-off features the often-seen mechanic Danny "The Count" Koker as he and his team restores, customizes and sells cars. Counting Cars premiered on August 13th, 2012.
This series provides examples of:
Acquired Situational Narcissism: Whenever Chumlee gets to fire a gun at the shooting range, he quickly adapts to whatever character and/or situation was described to him pertaining to the gun. It's often hilarious.
Alleged Car: A lot of the cars that come through the shop are not in great condition. Sometimes they are very old cars, for which this kind of thing is expected, and they will send it to a car expert to be restored if they buy it. Others are the result of the owner's attempt to fix the car, in which case the guys will generally not even give an offer.
On a few occasions they been offered cars that were crap as soon as they got off the production line, such as a three wheeled taxi from the film Free Jack. It was designed as a movie prop, so it didn't go very fast, and the back seat was both extremely dangerous and extremely uncomfortable going over bumps.
All Animation Is Disney: A lady came in to sell a set of frosted glass Disney figurines. After remarking how much he loves Disney, Chumlee asked if she had any of Bugs Bunny.
All There in the Manual: A number of interviews Rick has given, both before and after the show began, give some insight into why the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop runs and functions the way it does. For example, the reason it has so many insanely antique and valuable items instead of just the usual collection of TVs and cameras and whatnot? Every other pawn shop in the area was bought by a single company that used a database for its offers... if something wasn't in the database, they referred the seller to a non-company pawn shop, and Rick's was the only one of those around.
Rick's autobiography License To Pawn: My Life At The Gold & Silver Pawn Shop contains a lot of interesting background information, too. The book contains stories of high rollers who come in to pawn their valuables for gambling money, the Obstructive Bureaucrats the Harrisons had to deal with in order to set up their shop, the problems all three Harrisons have had with the law, and some of Rick's favorite items in the shop.
The team has to spell out why exactly they make offers significantly lower than market price way too often.
There can be numerous additional costs to buying an item, including overhead, storage, restoration, authentication, cataloging, and so forth.
More importantly, they have to buy items to sell them for profit. In many cases, the market price is a best-case scenario that they likely will not be getting. In other cases, an item may be difficult to sell; until they find a buyer, that's money tied up into the item.
Rick sometimes deliberately invokes this trope with stuff he really wants to keep for himself, such as a stamp designed by Benjamin Franklin, a Super Bowl ring and a boxing championship belt. He's said he likes having them in his shop so much that the only way he'd part with them is for far beyond their appraised worth. But he's not being completely irrational here — he considers the customer interest they generate valuable in itself.
Sometimes, customers with very reasonable asking prices are accepted by the Harrisons without even needing to haggle. Corey immediately agreed to pay one woman the $350 she wanted for a collection of 19th century railway bonds, since he'd be able to sell them all for a $750 profit. One time, when Rick agreed with the first price the customer put out, Chumlee was confused, as the policy was usually "Never take the first offer."
Occasionally the guys appear to avert this trope when the seller offers a price much lower than the item is worth, and the shop offers a higher, fairer price. They're actually demonstrating a sound grasp of economics. Having a reputation for honesty and fair dealing is far more valuable in the long run than making a few extra bucks from a poorly-informed seller. That's true even when your business practices are not being shown worldwide to millions of people every week.
Some customers do the sensible thing and try to determine what their items might sell for. Many of them have done so by looking at what other people are trying to sell similar items for online. Unfortunately, the Harrisons have to point out what sellers want to get and what buyers are willing to pay are often two separate things.
One common user of this trope are customers trying to sell vehicles that they had poured money into customizing, with varying amounts of success. Often they will try to ask for the amount of money they dumped into the vehicle or more, despite the fact that even people who don't intend to resell the vehicle would balk at that price. Even worse, sometimes all that customization will actually decrease the value of the vehicle - See Doom It Yourself below.
When the Harrisons buy things that require money to function, sometimes they'll set them up in the shop to make some extra money off them before selling them:
When Corey bought a coin-operated crane game, he filled it with chocolate bars that customers could pay to grab. He also steals Chumlee's car keys and puts them in the machine to screw with him.
When Corey bought an Evel Knievel pinball game and would only be able to break even on it, Rick forced him to set it up so customers could play it. When they made $300 from people playing the game, Corey would be able to sell it to break even. See Cool and Unusual Punishment, below.
When Chumlee bought a coin-operated kiddie ride, he set it up outside the store so they could make some extra money from customers to ride it while waiting in line.
Some of the things customers try to sell, like art, can fetch high prices in shops that specialize in selling them. Unfortunately, since the Gold and Silver Pawn Shop buys and sells a wide variety of merchandise, it can't sell these things for prices as high as the specialty shops. Rick's had to tell more than one customer selling paintings or photographs that he doesn't get gallery prices for the art he sells, which is why he can't offer them as much money as a gallery would.
Sometimes the Harrisons would be happy to pay a customer's asking prices...if the collector's market in whatever they were selling hadn't gone soft.
In some cases, Rick can take something to an auction and try to sell it there. He usually doesn't like doing this, since the entry fees and the auctioneer's cut of the selling price will both eat into his profit margin, and auctions have a chance of not making money. Rick usually only does this for truly one-of-a-kind items like the gatling gun he was offered (when haggling with the seller, he mentioned he'd have to take it to auction) or as a last resort (when Corey bought an antique motorcycle with missing parts that would cost a fortune to restore, and would be very hard to sell).
A customer brings in over 3,300 ounces of silver in bars and coins, which he sells to Rick for a whopping $110,000. Two things are worth noting:
The Old Man loves precious metals, especially silver. He hoards them as a precaution against hyperinflation, since precious metals will always have some sort of value.
The customer bought his silver collection back in 2001, when the price of silver was rock bottom. Now that it's gone back up again, he wants to cash in on his investment.
Corey had to reprimand one customer for pointing a gun he was selling at him. Granted it was actually a lighter, but it was made to look so much like a real gun, his concern is justifiable (they were actually illegal in several states, including the seller's homestate, New York). And as Rick's original pilot indicates, there are numerous guns under the counters ready to be used on anyone trying to rob the place.
Played a little more straight with the customers. Whenever they are handed a gun, no matter how old, the Pawn Shop employees always check to see if it is loaded. Granted, the ones still loaded are often 150+ year old muskets which most likely WON'T shoot, but they don't take that chance.
As You Know: It's often quite obvious the customer either already knows the history of the item or isn't interested in it, and the history is only being given for the audience's benefit.
A-Team Firing: One episode, the guys have an argument on who was the best shot, so they decided to have a shooting contest. Rick used a lever action rifle and says they would only be firing five rounds, while everyone else brought a modern semiautomatic. The Old Man only brought eight rounds, but Chumlee had a thrity round magazine and Corey a fifty round magazine. When the shooting finished, Rick got all five on the target, the Old Man got all eight near the centre of the torso, Chumlee's target wasn't shown, and Corey only managed to hit his target eight times, but hit everyone else's target once.
You had fifty shots and only hit the target eight times!
Awesome, but Impractical: Many items that come through the door, either because they're inherently impractical (but possibly still valuable), or because they can't be sold for a profit in a downtown Las Vegas pawn shop:
One of the items the shop gets is a gun shaped like a key. It worked great as a key, but not so great as a gun.
As awesome as dueling pistols are, Rick notes that their value takes a big drop if they're alone, because they came in pairs and collectors that would be interested in buying them want both of them.
On other occasions, he passes because he doesn't think he can sell them at a profit (e.g., Doom It Yourself classic car restoration projects and pretty much anything else that will cost more to repair/restore than he can sell it for).
And then there are the items that, while they might be profitable, are simply more trouble than they're worth. Rick once declined a Baldwin piano because it would take up too much space for too long a time in his shop, while he told the guy offering him an automatic corn-shucking machine that if some kid got his hand caught in the thing, the resulting lawsuit would put him out of business. Or the titanium ignition keys of a Russian space rocket and many other things shown in the show, which are very awesome but are also very expensive and there are so few people collecting them that it would not be profitable.
Yet another snag comes up when Rick is offered a collection of some sort, whether it's of Western memorabilia, wine decanters or Transformers toys. While the combined value of everything in these collections might be really high, no one would want to buy the whole thing. That means Rick has to invest a considerable amount of employee time in cataloguing and pricing every single item in the collection. And then he has to sell each item individually, which means that at least some of his money is going to be tied up for a while until he finally unloads the last piece of it. It's not hard to see why he turned down the Transformers collection, and why he soon got buyer's remorse after he purchased the decanters.
And there are some ridiculously cool, one of a kind items that sometimes find their way to Rick's shop. However, the fact that they're one of a kind actually hurts the chances of Rick buying them, because he has no idea how to measure their worth and would rather pass than risk taking a huge loss.
There has been a handful of items shown that would be profitable, but not bought because they could be illegal. Any stolen items cannot be bought (such as a Russian officer hat the owner admitted he stole from a Russian car), since every item is checked by the police to make sure it wasn't stolen and the shop would lose any payment made on the item. Two items (a championship ring that the name had been partially wiped out and a spy camera that had its serial number scratched out) couldn't be bought because the law says they cannot buy any item with an identifying mark removed. Guns made after 1898 are also right out, since the shop doesn't have a federal firearm license.
And as of the latest season, add anything alcoholic to the list. Due to yet more new regulations, they can't buy wine or anything else alcoholic because they don't have a liquor license.
On a couple of occasions, other pawn shop owners have actually come into the store to sell Rick their merchandise. Rick explains that all the pawnbrokers in Las Vegas know each other, and they'll frequently resell some of their merchandise to each other if a particular pawnbroker's clientele is more likely to buy a particular item.
Robosaurus actually once was offered to the shop, ripping apart a car, breathing fire, and everyone agreed it was cool as hell. However, the asking price was a MILLION DOLLARS. Corey noted it could easily bankrupt their business, so had to decline.
There was one notable occasion where a lady tried to sell three books written and signed by President Truman. The signatures were verified and the books were appraised at $11,000 (the seller had originally asked $3,000). The seller proceeded to ask for $10,000, leaving room for a profit margin of less than 10%, where as the shop usually tries for 30-40% (Chum has been reprimanded for having an average profit margin of 18%). What makes it notable is that the woman in question was a retired economics teacher who fully understood that the shop had expenses and needed to make a profit, and left them with so little meat on the bone anyway. In the end, they couldn't make a deal.
Bad Ass In A Nice Suit: The Old Man frequently dresses like this, particularly in promos, and looks pretty good in them considering he's an elderly overweight guy.
This◊ promo pic. The Old Man is in a white suit because a black suit is his usual attire, Corey is in a disheveled tux, Chum's dressed like a U-Boat captain, and Rick's in a suit and tie (and looks like a complete futz in it).
Bad, Bad Playing: A customer brings in an accordion, and Rick tries playing it to see if it still works. The customer, the Old Man, and several of the shop staff are all seen cringing.
Bazaar of the Bizarre: While the fame of the show helps draw in interesting options, this was already in place before the show started. All of the other pawn shops in Las Vegas are owned by a single corporation which uses a pricing catalog. If it isn't in the catalog, the only choice people have to sell their goods is this pawn shop.
Being Good Sucks: They may be stingy sometimes, but they will not flat rip people off. If someone gets in with a valuable piece and asks for pennies, they will call in experts to find out how much it's worth. The problem then is that the owner gets carried away and will ask for the price the expert said, ignoring that said price is a best case scenario and Rick has to buy the item to make a profit. When a woman brought in a spider-shaped broach and asked for 2,000, Rick told her it was a Fabergé piece made with real diamonds, rubies, and set in onyx and platinum. Thus he offered her 15,000, and she promptly asked for 17. Rick stated in the segment "this is why I hate having a conscience".
At times, this comes off sounding like Insane Troll Logic, such as the time when Rick is on his way to Sturgis and stops in an antique shop. He spots a samurai helmet being sold on consignment for $300. Rick tells the shop owner the helmet's true value, then haggles with the owner over what he'll pay for it, settling on something like $1,200 more than the listed price. Part of the problem here is that since the helmet is being sold on consignment, Rick has no idea of knowing if the shop owner would share the good fortune with the owner of the helmet.
Berserk Button: Both Rick and the Old Man go off like a cannon when somebody (usually Corey or Chumlee) loses them money. They'll even do it to each other, such as when the Old Man gave Rick grief for losing money on the Austin Healey car (see Epic Fail, below) or when Rick chewed out the Old Man for buying those two Western-themed dummies.
You can tell any time Rick's has been hit. He apparently flushes easily because his entire head will turn red.
The Kount gets quite rightly pissed when anyone questions his knowledge of and passion for automobiles. It's more of a Tranquil Fury in his case, though.
Sellers bersek buttons range from being told their item is fake, to hearing the expert opinion that doesn't jive with their reason of thinking. A commercial bump actually asked the audience which of three reasons causes people to react negatively.
Sometimes, when Rick and a customer can't agree on a price, the customer will offer to settle the dispute by gambling with whatever it is they're trying to sell, with Rick paying the winner's price. Unfortunately, for all his skill as a pawnbroker, Rick has really shitty luck. Whether it's flipping a collectible coin, spinning an antique roulette wheel or playing a hand of blackjack on a gaming table, Rick always seems to lose. He even Lampshades this fact after he lost the blackjack game, although he immediately subverted it afterwards by pointing out that he was still going to win anyway when he sold the item and made a profit off it. He also explained after one such gamble that he only does this when he would have eventually come up to the customer's price anyway. The gambling just makes it seem fun and cuts time and stress off the haggling.
Rick and Corey have a habit of betting on Chumlee missing the target when they go to test out an antique firearm they had just purchased. This has come back to bite them more than once, as Chumlee's actually not a bad shot.
Corey's had a few of these games himself, and he tends to do a little better at them than Rick. One customer who was selling a machine that measured the strength of the user's punches managed challenged Corey to a contest to see which of them could punch harder, with Corey paying the winner's price. While that customer won, Corey did come out on top against a customer who was selling a collection of billiard balls. The customer offered to gamble with the little numbered tokens that pool players use to decide who shoots first, with Corey paying the winner's price. This time, however, Corey was lucky.
Big Fun: Corey, and Chumlee. Just imagine those two on a see-saw together.
Old man and Atwan are quite overweight. Rick's the smallest of the main cast, and he's still a very big man.
Boring, but Practical: During a clay pigeon shooting contest between the four of them, Corey and Chumlee bring awesome tactical shotguns instead of plain trap-shooting guns. They proceed to score only one hit each. Rick actually uses a trap-shooting gun and proceeds to destroy all his targets, and then several more just to show off.
Break Out Character: The Count didn't show up until Season 3. The guys had a few other car and bike guys before him, including Rick Dale. These days, he's the only one they'll call either to appraise cars and bikes or fix them up once they're bought, to the point where he has his own show.
Brick Joke: After arguing with Rick over the value of a trainer's Super Bowl ring (see Jerkass, below), a customer leaves in frustration. In the last scene of the episode, playing over the closing credits, the guy comes back in and agrees to sell the ring for the $9,000 Rick had offered him.
Another episode has an old man wanting to sell an old word processor unit. He eventually turns down the $20 Rick offers him. During the credits, that same old man comes back in, willing to take Rick up on his order. Rick is floored, and recalls that he did make that offer.
Brutal Honesty: Rick and the Old Man are almost unfailingly polite in their business dealings, but they're also very blunt and won't hesitate to tell customers when they don't want the items that are being offered, or when the items are worthless. Some people don't always appreciate this.
Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Sure he may be the Butt Monkey due to his low intelligence, but there are brief glimpses on the show where Chumlee is surprisingly knowledgeable about certain subjects (the current list seems to be video games, pinball machines, vintage basketball sneakers, boomboxes, and gold).
On the History official Youtube channel, he even does one of the How To segments regarding how to tell real gold jewelery from an imitation, so even if he is that goofy, he knows how to do his job.
In an episode, he brought a broken RC car to full functionality, including rewiring it.
Butt Monkey: Chumlee. In the words of Rick, "If someone says catastrophic malfunction, Chumlee's gonna be the guinea pig."
The Cameo: George Stephanopolous (Good Morning America, This Week with George Stephanopolous) bought a first-edition of For Whom The Bell Tolls for $675 (though when they shook, Rick slipped in that offer; the original offer was $625).
Casanova Wannabe: Rick and Chumlee visit a cute redheaded college student who wants to sell them her Baldwin piano. Rick decides against buying the piano because it'll take up too much space for too long a time in his shop, but the real entertainment is in watching Chumlee try (and fail) to ask the girl out.
He actually wasn't doing too bad, Rick just co-, er, reminded him he was on company time and interrupted his game.
Cassandra Truth: When customers are told that the items they're selling are fake or otherwise not worth anything, the typical reaction is Oh Crap, as noted below. Some customers, though, simply refuse to believe whatever Rick or the other guys tell them. See Jerkass, below.
"I don't care what you say!"
A customer comes in with a Bugs Bunny poster to sell. Chumlee says he doesn't really know much about Bugs, but that he was in Who Framed Roger Rabbit?. The customer snaps back "No, that was another rabbit", and Corey sighs and says "You never cease to amaze me, man" to emphasize him being an idiot (he's just identified Louis Armstrong as the first man on the moon). But as anyone who remembers the movie knows, Bugs is in fact in Who Framed Roger Rabbit.*
In Corey's defense, Bugs was only in the movie for a cameo, albeit a prominent one.
Rick unwittingly invoked this trope with a customer who brought in a bar of gold that his grandfather found in the Caribbean. Rick jokingly asked if the customer's grandfather had found it on a sunken ship...and when they got the gold appraised, they found that it was from a sunken ship because of the coral that had grown on it.
Rick's is, "I'd love to have this/This would look great in my shop, but only if I can get it at the right price." Might double as Captain Obvious. Cory's begun using this phrase too.
Old Man: "Damnit, Chumlee!" "Oh my God...." "Whatcha wanna do son, pawn it, sell it, donate it?" "Back in the day..." Rick's also begun using the pawn/sell/donate phrase as well (usually cutting himself off after "Do you want to pawn it, sell it, or...?").
Rick saying that the current buy "could be worth a lot of money." He's also taken to saying "Why can't I find sh*t like this?" whenever he sees something particularly rare that was found in someplace like a yard sale.
Everyone has their own particular version of saying it's time to go fill out the sale forms, and generally sticks to it. Rick prefers "Let's go do some paperwork", while Hoss uses some variation on "You wanna go write him up?/Let's go write this up." The Old Man either lets Rick or Hoss use their phrase or "Chumlee! Go write (this person) up!" since he doesn't know how to use the computer forms.
"I/We know/got a guy..."
"... he knows everything about _____."
"... lemme get him down here, we'll see if we can work something out."
"Where in the world did you get this???"
The crew will sometimes use the phrase "cash money" when customers are trying to decide whether or not to accept their offers.
The Old Man also has "That'd be top of the mark", when overseeing negotiations performed by Rick or Corey and they offer a number that he'd be unwilling to go over.
Character Development: Chumlee's become less of a liability over the show's run. We've seen him learning the difference between real and fake Rolex watches and artwork, and he's begun negotiating for several low-level items and doing a pretty good job of it.
Comically Missing the Point: Corey bought a hot air balloon without consulting Rick because he interpreted him saying "I want to expand the shop" as being "do things other than pawn/sell things." Rick very angrily explained that didn't mean "give people balloon rides." There might have been a possibility of reselling the balloon for a profit, but finding a buyer for something like that would be extremely difficult. And Rick pointed out that if he buys something that expensive, he has a buyer lined up BEFORE he buys the item so he doesn't risk his money being tied up for months.
The Conspiracy: When a guy brings in three letters signed by three different Kennedys, the expert determines the letters are examples of auto-pen signatures and not personally signed by the Kennedys themselves. Cue the guy going into full blownConspiracy Theory mode over how insulting elected officials are in doing this sort of method, and how if you can't trust what the elected officials are signing, what else could be going on?
Continuity Nod: Each episode is designed to be extremely self-contained (and thus, for example, regular viewers have heard the experts' identify themselves dozens of times), but there are a few:
As a general rule, we don't see what happens to an item after the guys buy it. However, sharp-eyed viewers may notice items from previous episodes on display, either in the background or in establishing shots when the show is coming out of a commercial break.
There have been several recurring customers:
Tony was the guy who sold Rick the trainer's Super Bowl ring as noted under Brick Joke, above. He later appeared in another episode trying to sell Rick and the Old Man a pair of antique firearms, and they ask him if he's been in here before. Tony appeared again in a third episode trying to sell Corey and the Old Man an antique explosive detonator. Once again, the Old Man acknowledges dealing with him before. In the fourth season, Tony has appeared yet again, trying to sell Rick a Super Bowl trophy. Once again, Chumlee notes that he's been in here several times already.
Another recurring customer is a old guy who attempts to sell several games and other old devices to the pawn shop. Big Hoss mentions on the second trip that while they couldn't agree to buy one items of this guys, they'd go and see what else he has to sell. He also appears in the spinoff American Restoration, getting work done on an X-Ray shoe fitting machine. In that show, Rick Dale mentions that the old guy is an antiques dealer.
Another man who sold his collection of signed Star Trek actions figures shows up in another episode selling a Klingon Batleth.
"Uncle Phil" appears in two episodes of Pawn Stars (selling his 30's Roadster for gold and a jukebox to make room for more stuff) and then crosses over to buy a sign from Rick Dale in American Restoration that was sold to Rick Dale by the guys from American Pickers during the trifecta "The Pick, The Pawn, the Polish" episodes.
When a similar and/or related item appears to one from an earlier episode (mostly items tied to famous people, they will note what happened to the other item, mostly to show why the Pawn Stars want the given item so much.
Cool and Unusual Punishment: Anything that makes the shop lose money is a serious offense. Rick and the Old Man often have creative ways to punish this:
When Peaches shows up late for work one too many times, Rick forces her to work the graveyard shift with Chumlee, who has a major unrequited crush on her. Hilarity Ensues.
When Corey bought a tattoo kit for $350 and then snuck out of work to go trade it for a tattoo, the Old Man blows his top. He takes $500 out of Corey's salary to pay for the tattoo kit and have the shop make a profit on it, and orders him to work three hours of overtime to make up for the time he missed getting the tattoo. The Old Man also forces Chumlee to go clean the bathrooms for lying to him about where Corey had gone.
When the crew finally sees the restored helicopter (see Epic Fail, below), Rick points out to the Old Man that it was going to work out after all. The Old Man shot back by pointing out that if it hadn't, he would have sold one of Rick's kidneys to make up the loss. Knowing the Old Man, he probably wasn't joking...
Chumlee takes a bath on what turns out to be a bogus Mandolin made by Gibson. He loses $1500 on it, and Rick tells him he's gonna get him that money back. He turns to busking just outside the shop:
Old Man: (tossing him some bills) You gotta make $1500, so you're gonna be out here for a while.
Even when the Old Man just angrily yells at someone, whether it's Rick for his occasional money-losing purchases or Corey for his occasional irresponsible actions, it's frankly a little scary.
This backfired spectacularly on the Old Man in one episode. After Corey bought the plastic head of a Stretch Serpent toy for $500, the Old Man popped a blood vessel and yelled at Corey for his apparently stupid purchase. They decided to settle the ensuing argument with a bet on whether or not Corey would be able to make a profit on the plastic head, with the loser cleaning all the display cases in the showroom. The toy expert they called in confirmed that the Stretch Serpent toy was so incredibly rare that one intact toy sold for a whopping $12,000 at an auction, and that the head alone was worth between $4,000-$5,000. The Old Man is completely stunned, and ends up eating crow when he loses the bet and had to clean the display cases.
Corey bought an Evel Knievel-themed pinball machine that they were either going to lose money on, or at best break even. Rick refuses to let Corey sell the machine, and makes him set it up for customers to play. He also orders Corey to collect the quarters from the machine at the end of every shift, and turn them over to Rick. Once the machine makes $300, then Corey can sell it to break even. Being the manager, Corey's pissed off at having to do grunt work:
Rick: Consider it a life lesson.
Corey: A life lesson in what?
Old Man: In not losing money!!!
Chumlee broke a 200-year-old vase while goofing off in the warehouse with a Bat'leth. Rick emailed the security video to every employee of the shop to embarrass him.
Cool Car: Old sports cars and antique cars can sell very well, but the team usually has trouble getting them at a good price since most aren't in optimum condition and require large investments to restore. Often this is because the owners ended up damaging the cars through their own incompetence-see Doom It Yourself, below.
Then there's some of the handful of cars the Old Man owns, including a restored 1966 Imperial Crown Convertible, which appears on the show's title sequence.
Both Rick and the Old Man sometimes admit that the other problem with buying a Cool Car isn't just the cost and risk... it's the temptation to keep it, as they both have fairly large collections already. Hoss suffers this same temptation towards motorcycles.
Cool Gun: Antique firearms are some of the hottest selling items, so naturally the team always jumps on the opportunity to get some. Emphasis on the "antique", though, since as Rick points out, he can only buy and sell guns created before 1898, since that cutoff is the legal determination between "antique collectible" and "weapon".
Cool Sword: The shop also has its share of weird and exotic swords.
Crack is Cheaper: invoked A very rare inversion in that we see things from the perspective of the people who sell the things buyers are so obsessed with. The Harrisons often buy items because they know that people who collect guns, historical documents, toys, or whatever else will often pay a lot of money for these things.
Creator Thumbprint: Rick is obviously in the pawn business to make money, but he also has a genuine passion for American history, culture and heritage, which he indulges with his work.
The July 2011 arc starts with Harrison calling the pickers to find a 1957 Chevy to restore and give to the Old Man on his birthday. The Pickers episode ends with the sale and goes right into the Restoration episode which deals with Rick Dale's effort to restore the car. He also buys an old neon sign from Mike and Frank and partially restores it. The Restoration episode, in turn, leads into the Pawn Stars episode where Dale and his team finish the project and Harrison gives it to the old man. The kicker: It's estimated that it would take 6 to 8 months to restore the car. Rick needed it in three.
A new one will be airing soon, and it's got an addon. It will feature the guys from the pawn shop, Rick Dale, Frank and Mike, and this time the Count is in on it, as they all head to Sturgis.
Even Chumlee gets his moments. When a man brings in an animatronic restaurant display installed on the back of a novelty firetruck, Rick doesn't make an offer because he doesn't think he'll be able to sell it. The display is so weird that it looks like something out of a Terry Gilliam film, and Chumlee quips that he could probably travel through time with it.
And then there was the time Chumlee and the Old Man were dealing with a woman who wanted to sell a collection of glass Disney figurines:
Chumlee: Too bad you don't have Scrooge McDuck. He reminds me of the Old Man. Old Man: Thank you, Chumlee. Now shut up.
Then there was the customer who brought in a collection of Atlanta sports championship rings. He admits that he's a fan of the Detroit Tigers and Lions, and Chumlee points out that he must be used to losing.
Some of the customers can cross into this territory, too. Take the man who was haggling with the Old Man over a book owned by Sir Isaac Newton:
Old Man: If I give you $7,000, I won't have any money for dinner. Customer: You give me $7,000, and I'll buy you dinner. Old Man:...Sounds like a plan.
Rick and Corey had Fat Back, one of the shop's mechanics, evaluate a car that they were considering buying. Fat Back takes the car for a test drive, and comes back to them with his verdict:
Fat Back: In my opinion, if you spend any kind of money this car, the Old Man is going to have all three of our butts in a sling.
Dirty Cop: When a customer brings in a 1930s-era Chicago police badge, Rick recounts how Al Capone had the entire Chicago police force on his payroll. You could be beaten up by the cops, and there wouldn't be anything you could do about it.
Dirty Old Man: Subtle, but some fans have noted that Old Man using the kid gloves when haggling with attractive women. The most egregious case has Old Man talking Rick into paying $20 for an antique printing press that had rusted into scrap metal because "It's cool." The customer in question had some very interesting haggling techniques.
Doom It Yourself: Several customers have ruined their items' value in one way or another:
Some of the classic cars and trucks Rick is offered have been worked on by their owners. A lot of the time, these owners had no idea what the hell they were doing and actually destroyed the potential value of the vehicle with shoddy workmanship and pointless modifications.
One guy in particular put an engine in his car that was way too big, replacing the original (and fairly desirable) SS 396 in the process. He took the air cleaner off because he couldn't close the hood with it on (made worse because they live in the desert) and had also replaced the original front end with a newer one. It was painful watching him drive it. He tried to show off the power of the engine by peeling out in the cul-de-sac they were in, and the camera cuts to Rick and the Old Man just standing there with looks of absolute horror on their faces. Rick mutters under his breath that this is not what you do to a car. It becomes even more funny/pathetic when, after Rick and the Old Man refuse to buy it, the owner tells the camera crew that they aren't true "car guys", who would buy the car and make a profit off it. What pushes this moron into true Small Name, Big Ego territory, though, were the shirt and baseball cap he was wearing proclaiming how classic cars were a part of American heritage.
What made it doubly tragic was that Rick and the Old Man REALLY wanted that car, as the Old Man had one when Rick was younger and Rick had fond childhood memories of that car before it wound up being sold; plus, the car is a valuable car. But then he opened up the hood...
One particularly sad and strange incident involved a VW Type 181 "Thing". Rick was enthused about the car because his first car had been a Thing. However, the car had custom blue and white paint, improved uphostery and fully carpeted floors, and Thing collectors usually want them stock.
Rick: It's going to cost me a lot of money to make it yellow and ugly again. Seller: (horrified) I'm not going to sell it to you if you're going to make it yellow and ugly again!
Ultimately, he doesn't.
One customer learned that polishing silver coins destroys their value (polishing wears them down, which essentially rubs out all the detail). He tried to pawn a clock that had six silver coins imbedded in it. Rick would have bought it for the coins until he saw they had been polished. He was willing to buy the clock for $125 just to get the coins out of it and melt them down for their silver value but the customer decided he'd rather keep the clock.
Several customers have come into the shop with knives and swords that had been unprofessionally sharpened, brushed with steel wool and/or coated with varnish, which amateurs don't realize greatly depreciates the value.
There's a reason rich people are usually the only ones who drink fine wine. It's because they can afford to build the wine cellars you need to store the wine properly and keep it from spoiling. One guy who came in trying to sell his decades-old bottle of wine ended up turning the contents into vinegar from the way he stored it in his cupboard.
The man in question improperly stored the bottle standing up. When the bottle was moved, you could see chunks floating in it. The man trying to sell the bottle insisted that it was still collectible because it was Dom Perignon and it had never been opened. He also made the often quoted mistake of claiming that he had seen similar bottles go for thousands of dollars. Rick was quick to point out that the ones that went for thousands of dollars were still capable of being consumed by humans. What this man had was a bottle of vinegar in an expensive bottle.
Another customer tried to sell his Porsche engine to Rick. Unfortunately, the Count pointed out that it had been left open, exposing it to the elements, which could've rendered the engine only valuable as scrap metal. And then the guy tries to challenge Count's expert opinion. See Jerkass, below.
One guy could have gotten over $1,000 for the paintings he brought into the shop. The catch was that he cut them out of their frames and then rolled them up before stuffing them into tubes. The paintings ended up being so tattered that he only gets about a hundred bucks for them from Corey, and it comes across like he's taking pity on the guy's stupidity more than anything else.
To be fair to the guy, he claimed he bought them in that condition, so it was more a case of ignorance than actual stupidity.
A customer who brought in an unopened box of pre-embargo Cuban cigars that he inherited from his father could have gotten a good price for them...if his father had actually stored them properly in a humidor, rather than just putting the box in a larger trunk. The Old Man didn't even need to open the box to know that the cigars would have dried out and crumbled by now.
One was one interesting case where a sale was doomed because the seller put too much effort into his customized trike. Rick and Corey were floored when they found out the seller poured $100,000 into the trike. They pointed out that with that sort of money, the seller could have just gone and bought a top of the line Maserati. What was even worse was that when Count inspected the trike, he appraised its worth at only $15,000. Rick and Corey theorized that the seller didn't do his homework when buying the parts and got badly fleeced.
They have repeatably stated to never, ever, take a wire brush to a gun, noting that it destroys the value. When a gun looks too good, and might have been cleaned, they often ask if they cleaned it. One time Rick did buy a gun, only to take it to one of his gun experts and find out it literally worth nothing, and the expert suggest Rick bury it for several months to get the patina back.
Downer Ending: Sometimes there are items that the crew would love to have, but the customer simply decides to keep the item. One notable example was a complete gaming kit used by a wandering Wild West gambler that was worth somewhere between $7,000-$10,000. The customer didn't accept Rick's initial $4,000 offer, and refused to change his mind even after Rick raised his offer to $6,000. The customer walked out of the store with the kit, and Rick was almost despairing when he talked to the camera crew about it afterward.
Things like this happen often enough that you begin to wonder if some people are simply using Rick's experts to get a free value appraisal for insurance purposes, rather than having to pay someone to do it.
Except that an on-air appraisal like this wouldn't be a basis for providing proof to an insurer of the value of an item. What's more likely is that any number of other reasons may make the person change his or her mind. Often, someone finds out that an item he/she thought was worth thousands turns out to be worth a few dollars, so the person takes it home again. Other times, the person finds out it's worth exactly as much as he thought it was worth, but decides not to sell it, possibly to take it home and try to sell it for retail value rather than what a pawn shop would give you.
Do You Want to Haggle?: Basically almost everything the store buys purchased on the basis of lots of haggling, in some cases when the seller or the store's buyer (usually Rick) sticking to a close price (sometimes a differernce of $50 or $100) the other party is shown agonizing whether to give in over the difference.
To be fair, that 50 or 100 bucks could wind up eating up the buffer costs for framing, overhead, and other such logistical costs that goes into a purchase.
Dueling Shows: TruTv's Hardcore Pawn, though it deals more with the drama of a pawnshop rather than the items. Ironically, both shows now air on History Television in Canada.
Dumb Blonde: Peaches is one of the few employees who gets some screen time besides Chumlee and the Harrisons. One episode centered around her constantly coming in late, with Rick and the Old Man giving her grief over it. This conversation sums it up well:
Rick: Why haven't I fired you yet?
Peaches:...Because I'm pretty?
Some sellers come off across this in several ways. Many times, the seller either ignores the expert opinion, claims they could've gotten more money if they sold it somewhere else but instead opted to sell it to the Pawn Stars first, or does an equally idiotic action.
One lady brings in what she thinks is a rare key date quarter she has kept for nearly 3 decades. The expert determines the coin is an altered counterfeit, and Rick tries to console her by saying she has a few bucks worth of silver in melt value. The woman muses that she'll just keep the coin and hopes it's worth $5 in the future, and in the parking lot, she grumbles over keeping a "worthless" coin for all that time. She ignores that fact that Rick has told her she still has some value to the coin (albeit minor, but still something more than a quarter she got it for) AND she won't be able to sell the coin cause it's a fake and it's only good to be melted down for its silver content.
A woman brings in a tricycle she claims was in her family for generations. Rick and the Old Man scrutinize the trike, and determine there are too many things wrong with the trike that make the two not comfortable purchasing it (one tip-off is the pedals don't move the big wheel in front; they spin quite freely and don't move the wheel). They think the trike is actually a decorators piece of recent vintage that somehow got stuck with the story it was some family heirloom passed down the generations. Cue standard jerkass post commentary by the woman who thinks Rick is an idiot and a jerk for not buying it despite the evidence presented to her.
Woman brings in two rare banknotes. She is confident that she'll get her asking price since she did all the research and got estimates beforehand. When Corey brings in the expert and he gives his opinion on value, it cuts to her dismissing the expert's opinion and offering her "expert" opinion on the matter.
When a woman brings in a cigar advertisement, she is adamant in getting $5,000 for it, stating that she did the research on the item. Corey's "lowball" offer and her jerkass attitude killed the negotiations, and one has to wonder if she did the research, why did she bring it to a pawn shop instead of seeking out a collector or other venue to net more money?
A guy brings in some Green Bay Packers memorabilia. He is unable to sell it to the shop and in the post commentary, he remarks that he could sell it for more money in Green Bay. Given he was trying to sell it to a Pawn Shop that needs to make a profit, one has to wonder why he didn't take the direct route to Green Bay first.
Woman brings in a "1652" Pine Tree Shilling from Massachusetts. The coin was graded with the notation that the coin is damaged. Rick explains to the woman that when a coin is determined to be damaged, it drops the price significantly. The woman doesn't accept Rick's offer, and while acknowledging Rick expertise, she considers the offer an insult.
Early Installment Weirdness: Go look up the video pitch Rick made and submitted to History as the original show idea. It shows all three of the family members smoking like chimneys, footage of the guns kept under the counters with Corey announcing "Try to rob my shop and I will shoot you", and tried to play up the drama of people flipping out and actually having to be thrown out of the shop. History clearly decided to do a bit of a Re Tool to make it a little more low-key and (slightly) more family-friendly. Oddly enough, this is the angle Hardcore Pawn would eventually take.
Another pitch focuses more on people affected by the economy who're coming in to pawn. This one lacks Chumlee, but features Rick's niece and a night shift pawnbroker named Charles Ingalls, who mans a drive-thru-style pawn window. Ingalls is later mentioned during the fifth season, when the decision is made to hire people for the night shift, and the pawn window is seen when Chumlee is training a new employee on the shift with him.
The early episodes of the show itself also count. The very first episode features a guy pawning his table saw for $4,000, and we actually see Rick's moving crew come out to the guy's house and load the saw onto the truck. Another episode featured a couple who actually wanted to buy something, namely the "death clock" that Rick's shown polishing in the opening credits and that he keeps in one of the main display cases behind the front counter. Another bizarre inversion featured a customer in the role of Mr. Exposition when he gave Rick the lowdown on some of the jewelry he was selling. Rick even Lampshades how unusual this is, since he's usually the one giving customers the background on a given item.
Not an early installment, but a 2003 episode of Insomniac with Dave Atell featured Rick and the Gold and Silver Pawn Shop before Pawn Stars aired in 2009.
Ron Dale shows up to sell a Coke machine in one episode...which is then taken back to Rick to be restored.
End of the World as We Know It: Once, two keys came in that the seller claimed was Russian nuclear launch keys, and had called them the keys to the end of the world. Subverted, they were the launch keys to space rockets. Still cool, not nearly as dangerous.
Epic Fail: Rarely, Rick and the others will lose money on a deal.
Rick bought a Austin Healey car for $5000. The car didn't start, and he figured it just needed a battery and/or a tune-up. It cost over $6000 to fix. Rick's expert said it would be worth about $8000 when fixed. To add insult to injury, Rick bought the car right after it broke down. The guy who sold it to him had actually used it to drive down to the pawn shop.
Chumlee once bought a fake Gibson mandolin for $1500 without getting it appraised first, and was told by an expert that it was worth no more than $100.
To say nothing about when Chumlee and Corey bought a $38,000 hot air balloon. You could almost see Rick's face red with rage throughout the rest of the episode; he even ordered them to do something he never asked before — call the customer up and get his money back. Naturally, that didn't happen, and they were stuck giving rides to new customers to try and recoup their losses.
Rick bought copy of Bob Dylan's Self Portrait on vinyl with the intention of selling it for $75. But he realized Bob Dylan was in town doing a concert, and if he could get the record signed it would be far more valuable. Only he gave that particular duty to Chumlee. Big Hoss immediately objected, "You've got 40 other employees who won't screw this up; why are you giving this to Chumlee?" Incredibly, Chumlee actually finds Bob Dylan out on the Vegas Strip, and gets him to sign it. They allow you to think Chumlee's actually gonna do something right for a second, but then: "How do you want it signed?" "Have it say, 'To Chumlee.'" Face Palm. Rick was so pissed at him he just told Chumlee to keep it. Chumlee never even realized Rick was angry at him. "Cool, I've got my own signed Bob Dylan album."
The cynical viewer may consider the odds of just finding Dylan in town the way Chumlee did and suspect that this episode was, if not fully scripted, at least pointed in a direction to become a particularly hilarious Epic Fail.
Rick bought an antique ball and chain and made the mistake of having Chumlee put it in a case. Chumlee accidentally drops it on the glass counter top, smashing the counter AND possibly damaging the jewelry inside. This was in addition to an already bad day. Later Corey is set to deliver an antique chair. He forgets to put the tailgate off after the Old Man gives him the directions. The chair falls off and breaks beyond repair.
Like the Bob Dylan story above, the potty chair and the ball-and-chain stories appear to have been clearly scripted.
Rick bought a collection of 175 custom wine decanters for $600. He soon gets buyer's remorse when he realizes just how much time he's going to need to pack up, catalogue and sell each item. The Old Man, predictably, is not amused.
A happier subversion came when Corey bought a top of the line 1984 Chris Craft boat for $16,500. Rick was pissed, because boats tend to be expensive money pits that are more trouble than they're worth. Rick and Corey have a shouting argument over it, and Corey takes the boat to get repaired and refinished. It costs an additional $4,000 to fix. In the show's first Christmas episode, Corey mentions that he sold the boat for $22,000 at a $1,500 profit, but the Old Man points out that he got really lucky on that one.
Rick himself dodged a major bullet when he bought a junked-up helicopter for $10,000. The Old Man has a coronary when he finds out, and then has another one right afterward when he learns it'll cost $100,000 to fully restore. Fortunately, the helicopter looks absolutely gorgeous when it's finally repaired, and they'll be able to sell it for about $160,000. The Old Man goes up in the helicopter's maiden flight, and finally admits that this was a good idea.
And then he dodged an even bigger bullet when on a whim he buys a beat up mini-submarine. The Old Man is rather unhappy, since not only are they in the middle of the desert state of Nevada, but the sub needs repairs. When he gets it appraised, Rick finds that he'll be able to sell the sub as-is for a very nice profit if he scraps it for parts.
Corey bought an antique 1940s Belgian motorcycle for $4,000. The bike is so rare that he'll probably be able to sell it at a huge profit, right? Not so fast-as Rick points out, there are parts missing, and their car restoration guy says that replacement parts are so rare they'd probably cost as much as $25,000 to restore the bike. Naturally, Rick is pretty irritated. They end up taking the bike to sell at auction, which Rick hates doing because the entry fees and the auctioneer's cut will eat into his profit margin. The bike would have to sell for at least $5,200 for Corey to be able to profit on it, and in the end it's sold for over $7,000. Rick finally admits that it was a good buy and says he's proud of Corey, but once again it's clear that the Harrisons dodged a major bullet.
Another bullet was dodged when Rick bought a maritime navigational clock that didn't seem to be running. He decided to take a chance even though it seemed like it was broken, and called in a clock expert to see what it would cost to fix. The clock expert found that the clock was actually working fine, but its mechanisms were being held in place by special cork restraints so it wouldn't start ticking until the operator wanted it to. After removing the restraints, the clock starts up and is working fine. Rick expresses his relief that it wouldn't cost anything to fix the clock, and then the expert demands fifty bucks for getting it started.
The episode that served as a lead in to the Counting Cars premiere had Rick determined to buy a ridiculously run down 1968 Ford Mustang GT (it was the same type of care used by Steve McQueen in Bullitt, and Rick is a huge McQueen fan). Corey and the Old Man repeatedly tell him what a bad idea it is, but Rick ultimately buys it for $12,500. Sure enough, the Counting Cars premiere revealed that the interior was a complete disaster, costing over 22 grand, meaning Rick just used up $32,500. Thankfully, the Count confirms that the restored car is worth over 50 grand.
On the Pawn Stars section of the History Television website, the boys describe their worst money losses. The Old Man took a $25,000-$30,000 bath when he spent a fortune on cubic zirconia, which he mistook for diamonds; Corey spent $4,000 on six fake Rolex watches in his first week of working the night shift at the store; and Rick laid out $40,000 for a pair of diamond earrings that were then confiscated by the police when it turned out they were stolen.
It happened off camera, but when negotiating with a customer who was trying to sell him a painting Rick recounts how he bought a collection of Andy Warhol paintings that ended up selling for about half of what he paid for them.
Rick bought a book signed by baseball great "Shoeless" Joe Jackson for $13,000 without having the signature appraised. Jackson was illiterate, and so there are very few signatures that are genuinely his. Rick takes the book to an antique book expert, who told him that the book is worth about $50 by itself, and she doubted the signature. However, his signature was so variable that other experts might be able to confirm it. So, he sent it away to an expert in sports signatures...who confirmed that it was definitely fake.
One episode showed that the graveyard shift (which was being run by Chumlee) spent $600 on "Salvador Dali" silver globe thing. Without paperwork or having it checked out. Chum takes it to an expert, only to be told it is an obvious fake, being completely worthless. Chum then tried to test if it was silver. Not only was it not silver, it was hollow.
In one episode, Rick spends a small fortune on what he believes is a genuine piece of American Indian baby clothing, only to have his expert tell him it's worthless junk made for the tourist trade. The next episode, Chumlee loses a bit of money on a bad deal- Rick fails to get upset, perhaps because it wasn't near the mistake he'd just made.
Even Capitalists Have Standards: Rick always buys as low as he can, but also always makes sure that the customer makes an informed decision. One notable instance: A woman brings in a jeweled brooch in the shape of a spider, hoping to get $2,000 for it. Rick refuses that price... because "I have a conscience". The brooch is an authentic Faberge piece which he offers her $15,000 for. She tries to haggle him up to $17,000.
Invoked again when Rick is on his way to Sturgis during the "History Channel Goes to Sturgis" crossover episodes where Rick drops into an antique store and notices an old Samurai Helmet in the store's inventory. He informs the store owner that the helmet is grossly under priced and advised him of the fair market value of the helmet. Buying it is another matter entirely.....
In another instance, a woman came into the shop with a classic Japanese musical monkey toy in mint condition. She did not know what it was worth, and was ready to sell it for $100. The Old Man insists on giving her $150 because he doesn't want her to be taken advantage of.
Rick also mentions at one point that he dislikes everything about ivory and tries to avoid buying it. It helps the "ivory" was fraudulent.
Rick really dislikes buying Nazi items, even when they could be profitable (although he mentions it when the item in question most likely wasn't).
In a recent interview, Rick was asked to appraise O.J. Simpson's sports trophies(the very ones Simpson went to prison for trying to steal). He did so, at a low value, but also admitted he wouldn't want them in his shop for any reason.
Everyone Is Armed: Lampshaded heavily in the pitch reel for the show, but downplayed with the actual series. The only times you see staff armed is either the security guards and Rick pulling out his gun to see if a sellers fake books really could've held guns as he claimed.
Expository Opening Narration: I'm Rick Harrison, and this is my pawn shop. I work here with my Old Man and my son, Big Hoss. Everything in here has a price, and everything in here has a story. If there's one thing I've learned after twenty-one years, it's that you never know what's going to come through that door.
Funny Background Event: When Corey and Chumlee buy the bat'leth (Klingon sword), the seller mentions they could give it to Antoine to use for security. Antoine, standing in the background, just shakes his head.
Genius Ditz: Rick buys a radio-controlled car for cheap because it's broken and won't run. He needs to get it fixed, and Chumlee immediately volunteers for the job. Believe it or not, Chumlee actually succeeds, and Rick pays him $50 for getting the car running. The episode ends with Rick playing with the car with a big shit-eating grin on his face.
Grail In The Garbage: Several customers have brought in items that turn out to be worth far more than they ever would have guessed:
One man who brought in a 17th-century multipurpose German sundial and compass made out of ivory was hoping to pawn it for $500, but the expert Rick called in said that it was worth $7,000. He eventually decides to sell it to Rick for $4,500, or about nine times what he initially hoped to get.
In two episodes, two items that both happen to be associated with Paul Revere were appraised well into the five-digit range. You could just about see their jaws literally drop. One of them, the owner of a Revolutionary War-era government bond, was so floored he actually considered changing his mind and saving it for an auction house even after Rick put up big bucks because "he had to have it." The kid was originally hoping to trade it for an electric guitar, but he was hesitant about accepting Rick's $12,000 offer until Rick offered to throw in the guitar the kid wanted as well. The way the kid's face lit up when Rick made that offer as well had to be seen to be believed.
A man once walked into the shop with a bar of gold he got from his grandfather, which Rick jokingly asked if the man's grandfather got from a sunken ship. The man mentioned his grandfather had been to the Caribbean, but he had no knowledge if he'd done any diving. When the expert appraised it, he confirmed it was very old and had been on a sunken ship due to the presence of coral on it, and was worth over $48,000.
A fair amount of sellers mention they bought various items at yard sales, (including fine art in one case) selling them for MUCH more than they paid for.
Greedy Jew: The grandson of an Israeli Diplomat comes into the shop with a clock presented to his relative by President Richard Nixon. After being told the clock is ruined by corrosion in the battery compartment and rendering it a mere conversation piece, Rick tells him he's only willing to spend $500 due to the damage. When he adds that if the clock was in better condition it would be worth twice the offer he was making, the guy promptly asks for $1200.
At one point, Chumlee goes to attend a poetry reading, and even recites some lines to a disbelieving Hoss. Though arguably, he was doing this to pick up girls.
When someone comes in selling a 1st Edition of Walden, Chumlee correctly summarizes the plot, flooring Hoss with what he knows ("In between ditching class, you read a book?"). Chum even admits its one of his favorite books.
An art dealer friend of Rick's brought in a painting of John Lennon by speed painter Denny Dent. As Rick and the art dealer are discussing Dent's accomplishments and how they once saw him paint, Chumlee jumps in by pointing out how Bill Clinton invited Dent to paint him at the White House. Rick is rather surprised, and admits that he didn't know that.
Rick himself never even graduated the tenth grade, spent much of his teenage years running bootleg merchandise and doing drugs, and now owns a pawn shop, a profession many consider to be seedy. He's also a math genius and an avid student of history and physics.
Hypocritical Humor: The Old Man when counting the money from the swear jar. "Holy *bleep*, this is a lotta swearin'."
Rick's given Corey and Chumlee grief for buying things without getting them appraised, but he ended up making the same mistake when he bought a Native American vest for $1,300. He got it appraised after he'd already bought it, and the expert pointed out that it was a replica made for the tourist trade. You could practically see the steam coming out of the Old Man's ears when he found out.
I Can't Believe I'm Saying This: "The Count," who appraises vehicles when Rick might want to buy them, tells him to "pass" on a limo owned by Jackie Gleason. (It turned out that there was some barely noticeable rust damage on the car that would have raised the total cost too high after repairs were factored in.)
"relic" means something that was associated with a canonized Saint. This can include objects used or worn by the saint, or even objects that have touched said objects. However, the most important relics are actual portions of the saint's remains, be it blood, skin, hair, the ashes from their cremated bodies, etc.; this Squicks Rick out
invoked from St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. The certificate of authenticity is in Latin, so in comes a specialist who can translate it. The long and the short of the translation: "Do not sell or market this." explanation
The Catholic Church absolutely forbids the sale, at any price, of relics or blessed items. This is a sin known as "simony".
Rick: So, if I sell this, I'm going to hell...? Specialist: Pretty much. Old Man: You're going to hell anyway.
Chumlee manages to hit a coffee cup at fifty feet using a novelty handheld cannon with no sights and a smoothbore barrel.
Insane Troll Logic: Used frequently by customers, usually arguing that, for some reason, the store should buy their item for much, much more than its market value:
Any customer that tries to argue Rick into increasing the offer for an item purely because of the customer's emotional attachment to it. Newsflash, people: if it meant so much to you that the sentiment alone should be worth extra money, you wouldn't be in a pawn shop selling it to a stranger.
A guy brings in a bottle of old wine to sell. Turns out, the Obstructive Bureaucracy had recently forbidden Gold and Silver Pawn from buying alcoholic beverages, even for collectible reasons. The guy then tries to get Rick to break the law by buying his wine as a "private citizen in the back of the shop." Rick doesn't buy it, even after the Old Man tells the guy he's not willing to take the risk and jeopardize the shop over a bottle of wine. Note that the guy is trying to convince Rick to do an illegal under-the-table deal... on camera. While filming Rick's show. His nationally-televised show that's viewed by millions of people every week.
A guy wants to sell his Impala (a coupe; not the Jerkass below, who stuffed a big motor into a station wagon) to Rick and Corey. His asking price is too high, and Rick notes that for half his asking price, he could get a convertible version with a bigger engine. Corey's price doesn't jibe with the seller, and both before and after parting ways, the seller rambles on about how the duo tried to rip him off and that he managed to outwit them.
It Will Never Catch On: Rick had apparently been shopping the idea for Pawn Stars around for a few years before History Television decided to take a chance on it. It's now one of the highest-rated shows they have.
Jack Of All Trades: The Harrisons know just enough about a variety of fields to be able to appraise most items themselves. When they're offered more unusual, specific things, they call in experts with more specialized knowledge in fields ranging from coin collecting to Western memorabilia to historical documents and pretty much everything in between. This is usually the standard of pawnshops in general, since most of them usually appraise items onsite rather than have an expert come in.
Sometimes they'll even ask each other for help. Corey asked Chumlee to verify a pair of Air Jordan basketball shoes, and also had Rick take a look at the Pete Rose baseball cards he was offered. Rick himself got one of his employees, a NASCAR fanatic, to assess the value of a driver's fire suit that one customer was trying to sell.
Basically, the breakdown goes something like this: the Old Man knows coins, militaria, Native American art, and old toys, Rick knows sports memorabilia, art, weaponry, and historical items, Hoss knows motorcycles, cars, and electronics, and Chumlee knows eighties and nineties pop culture iconic items. The specialists are then called in for the more rare or heavily-faked versions of these items.
The Gold and Silver Pawn Shop itself is a Jack Of All Trades. Several of the experts the Harrisons call in own their own shops and businesses that sell the type of merchandise that they specialize in, such as classic toys, historical documents, Native American artifacts or what have you. The Gold and Silver Pawn Shop deals in all these things and more.
Jerkass: Rick can sometimes come off as one during deals, though it may just run through the family. Rick is a hard-nosed businessman, but is still usually quite respectful. On the other hand the Old Man will often drop his original bid during a barter session just because he finds the customer's asking price annoying.
Some of the sellers can come across this way too. Basically, any seller that acts like Rick is not only obligated to buy whatever they want to sell him, but to buy it for the price they'd like. Ditto for sellers who question the experts (or even the shops) opinion.
It seems that most of the Championship Rings brought into the shop has had a seller that is a jerkass. Or in one case, a jerkass-ette.
A guy insists on trying to sell a trainer's Super Bowl ring for $20,000 even after Rick pointed out to him that trainers' rings aren't worth nearly as much as the ones given to players.
With another Championship Ring, the guy is a bit hesitant in just getting the money and run. After being told by Corey that an expert verification could net him more money, the guy agrees to wait for the expert. Expert comes in, says the ring is a salesman sample and not worth as much as the real deal. The guy calls the expert a hack and slanders the store by saying not to bring rings to the shop.
A Cheerleader brings in a ring given out to the cheerleaders of the winning team, and comes in with grand plans to take a trip and fund several pet projects (including ironically enough, fund a rescue operation for a specific breed of dog). Corey's offer shoots down the grand plans due to the fact that the ring isn't as popular as an actual Championship Ring, yet the woman is headstrong and boastful enough to claim she will be able to get her asking price no matter the cost.
One guy in particular put an engine in his car that was way too big. His modifications turned off Rick and the Old Man from buying it due to the work it would take to make the car in proper working condition. The refusal sends the seller into a tirade about how Rick and the Old Man aren't "true car guys" and in a moment of sheer stupidity (or attempt to "show" what the duo are missing), he attempts to do (and fails) a burnout in front of a shocked and horrified Rick and Old Man.
A guy brought in a Perseus and Pegasus statue, and when Rick told him it was a reproduction (it said "made in the US" on it) and he didn't want to buy, the guy basically told him he was full of shit. The customer was such an ass, he almost got thrown out by the shops resident Bouncer.
A guy wanted to sell Rick a classic 1980 Datsun 280ZX 20th Anniversary Edition Coupe for $28,000. When he started the car, Rick claimed that something didn't sound right with the engine and asked Fat Back, the shop's house mechanic, to look at it. Fat Back confirmed Rick's suspicions, pointing out a number of problems that would need to be fixed, and recommended against buying the car. The customer was rather insulted, particularly when Rick offered him only $4,000 for the car, and sneered at Fat Back, asking him where he went to mechanic school. Needless to say, Rick didn't buy the car.
When having to yet again explain that he couldn't pay the highest-end retail price for what the customer wanted to sell or he wouldn't be able to make any money and keep his shop open, the guy smirked at Rick and said "Well that's not my problem." Rick actually seemed flabbergasted by just how big of a dick thing that was to say, before responding, "Well yeah, it is."
A seller manages to invoke the "It's not my problem" trope on the confession cam BEFORE he even got to the discussion of the item in question with Corey. Needless to say, the haggle over price doesn't quite go into the favor of the seller.
One guy brought in what he claimed was a private poem written by Jimi Hendrix, which was just black marker on plain white paper, and claimed it was given to him by a family member that was a personal friend of Jimi. The expert explained that pretty much everything about the document screamed "fake" including the fact the handwriting looked nothing like Jimi's, but the owner sniffed he didn't need an expert to tell him it was fake, he knows it is real because his family lived it.
A guy brings in a salvage motor from a Porsche, and Rick brings in the Count to evaluate it. The owner scoffs at Count's evaluation of his observations that the engine shows obvious signs of being out in the elements unprotected, and could have possible unknown problems that means the engine could be ruined. The owner demands that Rick bring in a "real mechanic" to give a second opinion. Count is almost inches away from going ballistic on the guy but restrains himself, which impresses Rick.
One customer was unhappy when Rick and the expert he brought told him that his autographed bat was most likely fake. The expert pointed out that finding those particular autographs on the same bat was highly unlikely, they were in too good condition for their age, and the company that authenticated it had been shut down since it was caught manufacturing fake autographs. The customer basically told to the camera that he thought the expert was full of shit and questioned his professionalism.
A guy brings in a quilt full of celebrity signatures that have been embroidered on. After verification and the experts opinion, Rick is unable to come to a consensus on justifying in purchasing it. He passes on buying it, and in the closing narration, the seller faults Rick for not being able to sell and market the item as if he's at fault.
One guy wants to sell off his Pez collection. He goes in pretty much headstrong and immediately reacts to a good natured crack from Chumlee in the negative. After some discussion, Corey makes an offer which angers the guy. He argues that they could sell the items on the internet easily and break even; Corey counters that not only he would be competing with other sellers, he doesn't want to just "break even." The guy furiously leaves the shop, and accuses the shop of being an insult to the Pez community and calling them something insulting.
Guy brings in several big posters he claims are blueprints of the USS Maine. After Rick points out that they aren't blueprints due to them not having measurements and the expert thinking they were printed for another purpose that is completely different than what the guy was thinking, the guy violently disagrees with both Rick and the expert over the evaluation. Even after provided the evidence countering his claims, he still vehemently thinks both the expert and Rick are idiots.
Jerk with a Heart of Gold: For all the grief that the Old Man gives Chumlee, in one episode he says that he loves the guy like a son. Generally the Old Man isn't really a bad guy, it's just that he frequently has good reason to be angry or annoyed. Like Rick, even he can make a larger offer than whatever a customer wants if the item is valuable enough, like an animatronic cymbal-playing monkey that the woman wanted only $100 for but that the Old Man offered $150 for because it was worth a lot more than she realized.
Katanas Are Just Better: Averted for the most part. The shop has seen its share of swords but a katana has not turned up yet. However, in one episode, Chumlee manages to sell a prop katana that was used in Kill Bill.
However, a katana (or something resembling one) is occasionally seen in a case in the background.
One finally turned up in a recent episode, a World War II Japanese NCO's sword. Rick doesn't say it's better, but he does note that American soldiers in that war actually had to be taught to defend against katanas.
And Corey gets in on the act by buying an old-looking Katana from a repeat (problematic)*
They bought a Grammy Award from him that they were not allowed to sell.
Corey bought it for $1500, but as is was, it could have been sold for $3500. The expert also tells him that restored, it could be sold for $15,000. Katanas Are Just Better indeed.
Corey also manages to talk the seller into lowering his asking price by pointing out that the shop already has five katanas on display.
One of the shop's YouTube videos has Rick showing off a katana, as well as explaining some of the finer details of valuing such an item.
In a advertisement for the show, Rick is showing off one of his antique katanas and notes that if he took it to Japan, it would be confiscated as a national treasure.
Kayfabe: The show keeps up the illusion that the main cast continues to work the shop as usual. As Rick points out in his book, however, pawning is a matter of privacy and confidentiality, as much as if he were a lawyer. Since they can't guarantee customers' privacy when talking to one of them due to people constantly snapping pictures and crowding close to watch, Rick, the Old Man, Corey, and Chumlee have to stay in the back offices and only come out to film segments with people that have agreed to waive their confidentiality, or to shake hands and have pictures taken.
Chumlee also plays up his Fat Idiot characterization for the camera - in the behind-the-scenes videos, he's serious and competent.
Know When to Fold 'Em: Rick and his customers are sometimes confronted by this when they can't agree on a price. Either Rick draws a line in the sand and refuses to go any higher, or the customer has to decide whether to accept Rick's final offer or simply break off the discussion and just keep the item.
Laser-Guided Karma: Though we don't see it happen, more than a few of the above-mentioned jerks who groused and snarled and finally accepted a fairly generous price for their items then announced something along the lines of "Now it's off to the blackjack tables!" Considering the odds of actually winning or even breaking even, a lot of that money isn't going home with them.
Lethal Chef: When Rick buys a glass decanter than can be used to store and pour four separate drinks at once, Chumlee uses it to try and brew his own homemade alcoholic beverage. He gets the other guys to try it, and they all (except the Old Man cause he could handle the stuff) think it's disgusting, although Chum himself still enjoys it.
Chumlee had more luck with a coffeemaker that Corey later bought. The Old Man actually really enjoyed the coffee Chumlee served him.
Chumlee tried his luck with making his own wine in another episode. Everyone hated it— except the Old Man.
Corey and Chumlee purchased a turn-of-the-century waffle iron. When Rick couldn't close a deal on a very rare cannon he wanted, Chumlee cooked up some waffles. The waffles ended up a little softer than usual, which Rick points out (Chumlee added too much water to the mix), but Old Man liked them.
Let's Get Dangerous: In one episode, Big Hoss buys a classic Harley-Davidson motorcycle for $7,000. Chumlee falls in love with the bike, and asks to be put on the company payment plan so he can buy it himself. The Old Man refuses to do it unless Chumlee can come up with a $3,000 down payment. We then see a series of clips that shows Chumlee working hard and selling items left and right, including the previously mentioned Kill Bill katana, using the money he gets on commission for the down payment. The Old Man even Lampshades the fact that Chumlee can be a perfectly good salesman when he puts his mind to it, but that he rarely has much focus.
Like Father, Like Son: Present with all three generations of Harrisons. Rick has inherited the Old Man's occasional willingness to offer customers higher prices than what they were asking for, while Corey has begun using his father's Catch Phrase of only wanting something if he can get it "for the right price." All three of them are also master Deadpan Snarkers.
Loads and Loads of Characters: Rick knows many different people who are experts at appraising or restoring almost anything he can bring them. Some of them have almost become regulars on the show themselves with the number of times Rick and the boys have called them for assistance.
Now their car restoration specialist is getting his own spinoff. It appears that the Harrisons' success has a tendency to rub off on their friends.
Loophole Abuse: One of Rick's customers would take $95,000 for a car, but ONLY if it was in gold. The law says they cannot do direct trades for gold. So Rick gave the customer $95,000 in cash, which the customer used to buy the gold a second later.
Male Gaze: The brief montage of customers perusing the shop that is shown between scenes often shows pretty female customers. Ones that are particularly buxom and/or wearing clothes with low necklines usually have the camera aiming right at their assets.
Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: In one of the few instances of pawning that we actually see on the show, a Native American guy pawns an artifact that he claims brings peace and harmony to its surroundings. Although he tells the camera crew that he doesn't think the Harrisons are taking him seriously, they still accept the artifact and Rick hangs it in the back office near the Old Man's desk. Later in the episode, when Corey spends $200 on a fake Coke sign, Rick merely accepts it as a lesson learned and tells Corey to make sure it doesn't happen again. After the Native guy pays Rick back and takes back his artifact, Corey, Rick and the Old Man eventually get into an angry shouting match.
Meaningful Name: The Old Man named the Gold and Silver Pawn Shop from his love of precious metals. He also notes that there's a reason it's called the Gold and Silver, and not the Copper and Lead...but since copper was trading at over $3.00 per pound, he'd probably pay for copper, too.
Merchandise Driven: Needless to say, our heroes have played up this trope for all it's worth. You can buy everything from T-shirts to bobblehead dolls to DVDs. One shirt in particular advocates Chumlee for President, which would probably put the Old Man in his grave if it ever really happened.
The Millstone: Chumlee, so very much. One Eyecatch reveals that he once broke a $15,000 Bass violin. He's gotten more competent as the show has gone on, though.
Mis-blamed: When the Old Man buys a pair of Western studio dummies for $500 (for the pair), Rick blows a gasket. He thinks that Chumlee was the one who purchased them, given his apparent record of dumb purchases, and is floored when the Old Man speaks up and reveals the truth. He bought them because he thought they were neat; he even named them Ed and George.
Chumlee purchased a Leslie revolving organ speaker from the 1960s, took it to get restored to operating condition, then brought it back to the shop. Later, Rick hears somebody fiddling around with a keyboard and the speaker in the back room, grumbles about Chumlee goofing off during working hours...then opens the door to find the Old Man at the keyboard.
Mistaken for Gay: When one guy brings in a fairly large assortment of Mickey Mouse phones, after lining them up on the counter he says he's selling them because his girlfriend is moving in with him. Chumlee gives him a mildly surprised look and says "You have a girlfriend?" He may have acted surprised because Nerds Are Virgins.
Mock Guffin: What many supposed treasures that come through the front door turn out to be; junk pretending to be treasure.
More Dakka: As if antique muskets and revolvers weren't enough, one episode featured Rick buying (and subsequently firing) a freakin' cannon! Another time there was The Civil War era gatling gun and because that wasn't enough, the same guy invites Rick out to see if he wants to buy the bastard offspring of the two, a gatling cannon that uses one pound shells.
Mr. Exposition: There are many situations where it's clear that the discussion between the brokers and customers about how an item works and/or the history either behind it or the company is something that is being filmed to give information to the viewer more so than anyone on screen.
Mundane Utility: One day a customer brought in a Indian push dagger, a Sissors Kutar, and Chumlee used it to open a milk cartoon. Old Man compared it to squashing a fly with a sledgehammer.
Never Trust a Trailer: Or in this case, never trust the commercial break clips. The editing is so bad, you can bet the exact opposite will happen and be right nearly every time. Somebody says "There's a problem"? The item will be confirmed rare and worth a ton. The expert says "You may have hit a home run"? Confirmed fake.
It also occurs on the "On this episode..." segments at the beginning. On at least a couple of occasions, it shows a customer selling a gun, Rick examines it, "This gun is loaded", cue cutaway accompanied by a gunshot sound effect and possibly the Old Man muttering "Oh my god...". Needless to say, no gun has gone off accidentally, nor has anyone been shot on the show. Another one involved a man selling an RV, with Corey exclaiming at the end, "My dad is gonna kill me!!", leading you to think it's building to Hoss making another foolish purchase like the ones in Epic Fail above. No such thing happens in that episode.
When Rick is about to buy a really beat up Mustang GT, Corey calls in Danny to apparently persuade Rick that it's a bad idea. Instead, Danny actually tells Rick to buy it, since the car's trim-work is all present and the car can definitely be restored.
On another such sequence, a man brought in a basketball championship ring, and the clip showed Rick asking him how much he wanted and he replied "100,000". In the actual episode he asks for 20,000, and the mention of 100,000 is in response to Rick's mention that the ring is only a trainer ring and player rings would be worth a lot more.
In the episodes where Cory is asking to become a partner, the trailers show Cory going to the warehouse and throwing ninja stars at boxes BECAUSE he's angry at not being made a partner. In the actual episode, Cory and Chumlee throw stars at boxes because they've just bought some stars and think it would be cool to try them out. Rick's reaction, however, is played straight.
Nice Hat: When he goes out on location to view items that customers want him to check out, the Old Man always wears a classy black fedora.
The Clark County Executive (forget his name) always comes with his signature white hat. Now, when he put on a British Royal Army bearskin hat...
Noble Demon: Despite the old man generally being a cranky old bastard, he's very polite around customers. A few times, he's even given a few customers more than their first asking priced to give them a fair deal.
Noodle Incident: Averted. When admonishing Corey for getting a tattoo on company time, the Old Man is reminded that he himself has a tattoo. While the Old Man tries to downplay the hypocrisy of him getting one compared to Corey and Chumlee's inkwork, Rick immediately describes the incident. The Old Man in 1959 was in Japan, and he promised his wife that he wouldn't get a tattoo. However, he reasoned that getting one with her name would pass; unfortunately, he spelt her name wrong.
First, there was Rick and the woman who was selling a Faberge spider broach.
Then there was the time Corey went to get the pawn shop posters framed.
And then there was the time Corey bought a Jimi Hendrix poster to give to Rick for Father's Day. Rick is thrilled to get it, but then Corey also gets him in trouble with the Old Man. The Old Man tears Rick a new one for only getting him chicken wings for his Father's Day, while Corey went and got Rick a framed poster.
Nostalgia Filter: The Old Man has a very, very thick one as his Back-When-I-Was-A-Boy stories will atest.
Number Coded For Your Convenience: The shop staff is introduced in each episode with a dollar bill logo in the lower-left corner of the screen, and they each have a number denomination that indicates where they rank on the shop's hierarchy. The Old Man has the $100 bill, Rick has the $50 bill, and Corey has the $10 bill. Other staff members like Peaches, Fat Back and Antwaun have all been introduced with the $5 bill. Chumlee, being the Butt Monkey and shop mascot, has the $1 bill.
Obfuscating Stupidity: While Chumlee's reputation is fairly earned, he'd almost have to be smarter than he looks on the show. It's pretty clear that at least some of the time, he's purposely playing the fool, either for the cameras or for his coworkers. He also shows occasional surprising flashes of expertise or competence when he actually puts his mind to something.
Obstructive Bureaucrat: In his autobiography, Rick describes the hoops he and the Old Man had to go through to set up the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop. These ranged from corrupt city bureaucrats who were trying to keep Rick from horning in on the sales territories of the "good old boys" network to crooked city politicians who demanded campaign contributions in exchange for supporting their efforts to open their shop to a city mayor who came up with some pie-in-the-sky idea of making all the pawn shops in town gather on one street, and eventually in one large building.
Offscreen Villain Dark Matter: The boys obviously aren't evil, but the basic idea of this trope still applies in that pawning, which Rick mentions makes up around 60% of their business, is rarely done on the show. Almost every customer that appears on the show intends to sell whatever it is they're offering.
Various interviews Rick has given both before and after the show say that this is most likely an effect of the economy. His overall business is way up (and was even before the extra publicity), including pawning, but also people are simply more willing to part with family heirlooms and their personal collectibles when the economy is down.
Rick's also mentioned how he has a number of regular customers who come in and pawn items on a regular basis before paying him back and then retaking their belongings. They don't want to appear on the show, and in any event Rick points out it wouldn't be very interesting to see the same people hawking the same items every couple of months.
A high-profile pawn finally takes place on camera when a man pawns a huge collection of mint-condition Matchbox toy cars for $20,000. The entire collection was valued at $28,000, and Corey tried to talk the man out of taking such a huge loan because of how much money he'd have to pay to get his cars back, but the man insisted on taking it not because he wanted $20,000, but because he needed $20,000.
A lot of potentially cool items are not put onto the show (with some brief glimpses of it between deals), either because the volume of interesting things outweighs what can possibly shown on the show, or the shop just refuses to even bid on it outright for various reasons (Nazi related items, anything stolen, guns made after 1898, etc.).
The same could be said for customers buying items from the shop. Obviously, it wouldn't be a successful store if no one bought anything.
Oh Crap: When customers find out that the items they're trying to sell aren't nearly as valuable as they thought (or counterfeit). One man had what he thought was an actual whip used in the production of Indiana Jones, which could go for upwards of $5,000 if actually used by Harrison Ford. When it was appraised, he was told that without any documentation there was nothing proving it was anything other than a normal whip. You could almost see his face droop to the floor.
Or the rare occasions when the staff bought something hoping it turns out to be worth a lot of money only to find out it isn't.
What about the guy that paid out the ass for an antique pistol only to find out it was a cheap reproduction? The Cluster F-Bomb just barely showed the audience how pissed off he was.
Also the woman who bought a carved ivory tusk for a lot of money in Taiwan, only to find out it was bone shaped over a wood frame that was hardly worth $100.
The woman who brought in an extremely rare Smith & Wesson 320 revolving rifle she found at a garage sale. She had thrown the original stock that came with the gun in the trash, thinking it was useless - Rick's appraiser had to break the news to her that the stock alone was worth between $5,000 and $6,000, and without it the gun itself was only worth around $1,000 at most, given its poor condition. Rarely has a customer sounded so mortified on the Confession Cam.
The Old Man really loves Star Wars and was disappointed that he couldn't make a deal on a commercial R2D2 cooler stating if he couldn't sell it he's take it home and put it on his porch.
Rick loves anything to do with history and bought an Incurable book (a book made during the first 50 years of the printing press) and decides to keep it for himself. Though Corey and The Old Man make him buy it at full price, more than twice of what he paid for it.
Chumlee is an All around geek being into the usual stuff like video games and toys.
Nobody calls the Old Man by his real name (Richard); this has been true since he was originally dubbed "Old Man", when he was in his thirties, although Rick will call him "Pops" and Chumlee occasionally addresses the Old Man as "Boss" when he calls him over to look at something interesting.
Chumlee (real name Austin) is always Chumlee; not even Chum Lee.
He was given business cards which were misspelled "Chum Lee" in one episode. While upset at first, he later mused that he liked the idea of being called "Mr. Lee".
Chumlee is sometimes called "Chum" by others, which means shark bait.
Inversion: The quote at the top of the page is what Rick says as each episode opens. It's usually the only time in an episode where Corey will be called "Big Hoss" but Chumlee will regularly call himm just 'Hoss'.
He doesn't appear too often, but the shop's house mechanic is generally referred to as Fat Back.
A sort of inversion and straight example at the same time, since the restoration specialist they often use is also named Rick, the pawn shop employees generally refer to him by his full name but many of them, especially Corey, have a habit of running the names together, resulting in them calling him "Rickdale" all the time.
Only Sane Man: Rick occasionally comes across as feeling like he's this, in between the antics of the rest of the crew: a Grumpy Old Man, The Ditz, a son who thinks he knows better than his father.
Parental Substitute: In at least one interview, Rick has alluded to how he's semi-adopted Chumlee as a surrogate son. According to Rick, Chum wasn't raised well and he ended up bonding with the Harrisons as a result. Chumlee apparently gets Mother's Day cards for Rick's wife, and even the Old Man's alluded to the fact that he loves Chumlee like a son.
Planet of Steves: The shop is run by Richard Benjamin "Old Man" Harrison, his son Richard Kevin "Rick" Harrison, and his son Richard Corey "Big Hoss" Harrison. Just for fun, there's also Rick Dale, the restorer.
Playboy Bunny: A customer sold Rick an original 1960s Playboy Bunny costume with a training manual that he'd gotten from an old girlfriend who worked at a Playboy club.
Please Keep Your Hat On: Averted with museum curator Mark Hall-Patton, a consultant who is almost always seen wearing a wide-brimmed hat. On the rare occasions that he takes it off, he reveals a full head of hair.
Possession Implies Mastery: Invoked in numerous ways. Sellers thinking they can "improve" an item by fixing it, cleaning it, or trying to convince the gang to buy it with an elaborate history, saying they "researched it," or some weird argument that implores that the gang has to buy it because they need to.
Product Placement: Several times, the Pawn Star crew would be seen eating Subway. Once, Chum and Corey were seen eating at a Subway restaurant.
One guy brought in a Hoyt crossbow, and the way he was dressed to how he was trying to sell it to the guys reeked of product placement.
Put on a Bus: Several experts have gone missing from the rolodex the store uses to help authenticate and verify items.
Sean (Gun Expert)
Real Men Wear Pink: Rick and Chumlee are looking at a collection of John Wayne memorabillia, and Rick says that there's just something wrong with depicting the Duke in a pink bandanna. Chumlee points out that Rick once wore a pink shirt, but Rick explains that it wasn't pink, it wassalmon.
Reasonable Authority Figure: Despite his general crabbiness, the Old Man occasionally acts this way. Whenever he's yelled at someone like Corey and later proven to be in the wrong, he's apologized and admitted his mistake.
Recurring Extra: Several of the sellers appear multiple times with various items. Also, pay attention in the brief glimpses of the shop between deals, you will notice the same people appear quite a bit.
Refuge in Audacity: A man came into the shop with a can of Zoo Doo, canned elephant dung fertilizer sold by a zoo as a novelty item. His asking price was $10,000, though he admitted that he'd take $5 if offered. He ended up getting $20. In the end, he probably just wanted to get on TV.
Rule Of Cool: Rick will sometimes buy items because they'll look good in his store.
Also a case of Awesome Yet Practical: Rick sometimes points out that eye-drawing, impressive, "cool" items that look good in the store draw customers. And drawing customers means money. This was the rationale behind the Old Man badgering Rick into buying a rusted-out, broken down Confederate printing press for $25, even though Rick didn't initially want it.
And then there's the show itself. Along with all the money they've made from episode royalties and merchandise sales, the crew has benefited from a massive increase in business brought about by the show. According to Corey, the Gold and Silver Pawn Shop used to get between 70-100 customers a day. After the show started airing, this increased to over a thousand customers a day.
Scary Black Man: Antwaun, the greeter/bodyguard. 6'5" and gigantic. And carries a gun in a holster, as permitted for a security guard.
Downplayed because when ever we see him on camera, he is very polite. Still most likely not a guy you want to mess with.
Someone attempts to sell an old fighter plane ejection seat they had sitting in their living room for years. Frighteningly, it was still functional — in all that time, no one had ever pressed the "eject" button, which would have slammed them into the ceiling at a hundred miles an hour.
If you were offered a set of five mint condition Pete Rose bubblegum baseball cards, would you think the opportunity was too good to be true? If so, you're smarter than the customer who had these cards and tried to sell them. A suspicious Corey called Rick over to look at them, and Rick didn't need ten seconds to realize they were fakes. Along with explaining all the defects that showed they were forgeries, Rick lampshaded just how incredibly unlikely it would be to have five mint condition cards. Needless to say, the customer wasn't happy.
This was part of a storyline in one episode. Rick expanded the shop to make an office for the Old Man, so he wouldn't be sleeping at his desk within sight of the customers. At first he liked the office, but by the end of the episode he was back at his desk, once again sleeping.
Serial Escalation: So what kind of weird antiques are customers going to bring in today?
A couple of the asking prices customers want for their items fall under this trope. The guys who tried to sell Corey and Chumlee Robosaurus wanted one million dollars. You read that right-one million dollars.ONE MILLION DOLLARS. No prizes for guessing how the deal turned out.
Serial Numbers Filed Off: In-universe. A big problem for the shop, both in terms of forgeries and literal serial numbers filed off. Many times a customer has brought in clearly fake items, such as an "ivory" tusk art that had all kinds of cracks in (it was really made of bone, you could even see the wood under the bone), or a "French" art piece that said "Made in America." As noted above, it is against the law to buy any item with identifying marks on it removed.
Sharp Dressed Man: Everyone else in the store wears the typical black Polo with the company logo on it. Old Man on the other hand always wears a black dress shirt, tie and vest.
Skewed Priorities: Played for Laughs when demonstrating the homemade mortar cannon. Chumlee is tasked with lighting the fuse. Rick is worried about the cannon misfiring and/or blowing up, citing he doesn't want another workman's compensation claim on his business.
Small Name, Big Ego: A couple of the customers who've tried to sell Rick their classic cars brag about being "car guys" who did their own work. This turns out to be an Informed Ability when they start the cars up and Rick immediately realizes their work was shit.
This also applies to the people who violently thought the guys were wrong about the value of their items.
The "artist" covered under Squickinvokedbelow wanted $7,500 for his demonic gold figures, which he bumped to $6,500 because he recognized Rick is a businessman and has to make money. Rick turned him down, telling him plainly that no one is going to pay thousands of dollars for figures from an unknown artist. The guy walked away sneering that his work will one day be famous, Rick will kick himself for not getting in on it early, and he might consider coming back to give him a second chance.
Snark-to-Snark Combat: The Harrisons get into this from time to time, such as when the Old Man took a leisurely test drive in their recently purchased and restored Shelby Cobra.
Rick: You didn't even go fast enough to mess up your hair!
Old Man: At least I have hair!
Sore Loser: Some sellers sometimes come across as this if the deal doesn't go their way regardless if the guys buy the item or not.
Spin-Off: Rick will take certain antiques to be restored by one of his buddies, Rick Dale. Dale got his own show, American Restoration, which focuses on his work restoring things such as bicycles, refrigerators and candy machines. In one of the first episodes, he restores a 1950s-era golf cart for the Old Man.
The regular mechanic got has his own show, Counting Cars.
Squick: invoked Rick is usually more than willing to buy anything if he thinks he can make a profit. But there are some items that make Rick have a squick moment and he refuses to buy for some reason, whether it be on moral or other grounds.
One person brought in Nazi war spoils, which a family legend said was ransacked from one of Hitler's own private camps and belonged to Hitler himself. Rick was able to authenticate it as actual Nazi memorabilia, but knew it didn't ever belong to Hitler. Even then, Rick said he won't offer anything for it as the items themselves and the market for them just creeps him out.
Which is odd given Rick didn't seemed too wary of profiting off a "Broke Nazi" in the past (as Dave Attell of Insomniac fame would joke when shown some old daggers identified by rick as being "Nazi stuff.").
Another time, an "artist" brought in pieces of gold he himself cast. In addition to painting them black and thereby defeating the purpose of the gold pieces, one of them incorporated the leg from a roadkilled owl.
Rick has also mentioned that he doesn't like taking in ivory items since he doesn't like how ivory is obtained nor does he like the politics behind it.
It's difficult to authenticate ivory as "pre-ban." In order to legally buy and/or sell ivory you have to have proof that it was harvested before the ban on the ivory trade. So unless the customer brings in a certificate or some other kind of authenticating document it's going to cost money and time to authenticate the ivory and if it is post-ban Rick is in a boatload of legal trouble.
The WW 2 gas mask for babies also came close to just completely squicking Rick out. He said the longer it was in his shop the more it bothered him, despite the fact that it was of historical significance and he considered it important to remember such items.
Rick was wary of a saint's relic a man tried to sell him since it looked like it had blood on it. This was even before he knew he would be threatened with going to hell by purchasing it.
Stealth Pun: The logo they use for the Old Man is a $100 bill. His middle name is Benjamin.
The Stinger: Most episodes end with some kind of finagling with an incident earlier in the show, such as an item purchased or some altercation, making this double as a Brick Joke.
The Stoic: The Old Man, most of the time, is montone and bussiness focused.
Stout Strength: One of Rick's employees is a large fat black man named Antwaun. He's occasionally seen in the background helping customers take heavy items into or out of the store, though his explicit role at the shop is as security.
The tune often heard in the trivia sections sound similar to U2's "New Years Day"
This is actually quite common in the show, especially when dealing with any merchandise or memorabilia related to famous actors, musicians, TV shows or movies, as it would cost a fortune to license out the genuine music. Best heard when they bought the Goldfinger filming script- a clone of the Bond theme is used.
Take a Third Option: Sometimes, when Rick or the Old Man and a customer are at an impasse, one of them will offer a straight-up trade as a means of sealing the deal. For instance, the guy who tried to sell Rick a Revolutionary War-era war bond drafted by Paul Revere wasn't very keen on Rick's $12,000 offer until he threw in the electric guitar the kid had originally wanted to get. Another customer who wanted to sell the Old Man a collectible poker chip finally agreed to his price if the Old Man also agreed to give him the figurines of some prominent Las Vegas entertainers. The Old Man later told the camera crew that the figurines were only priced at $300 and he paid only $100 for them, so it wasn't really a problem for him.
One of the more interesting examples and the only such shown to date is when a man comes in to sell a South Pole glacier marker and one of the first ATM receipts from its science station. Since Rick has absolutely no way to value them but knows they're unique enough to be interest-drawers if nothing else, he accepts the seller's offer to simply leave them in the store to be sold and take a percentage of the profit if they do.
In another episode, a guy comes in with an old double-flintlock shotgun with a spring bayonet. Hoping for a few hundred bucks to go towards a new guitar, the expert priced the gun at ten grand. When they subsequently had trouble coming to a deal, Rick offered him a guitar as trade, and brought out a '78 Les Paul Standard, which was in such good condition Rick mentioned he kept it off the floor because he didn't want people constantly fiddling with it. The deal was made.
A customer brought in a 1932 Lincoln town car that was in amazing shape for something nearly 80 years old. He wanted $100,000 for the car, and initially refused to budge even when Rick raised his offer to $95,000. Finally, he asked the customer what it would take to seal the deal, and the customer finally agreed to sell the car for $95,000 in gold. Rick couldn't legally give the guy gold for the car, so he paid the customer $95,000 in cash, which the customer then traded for $95,000 in gold...plus a security guard to escort him to his car.
Corey buys a left-handed motorcycle and takes it to Danny to be fixed up. When it's ready, Corey and Rick have to decide which of them is going to ride the bike back to the shop. They both refuse to do it since they're both right-handed, and they each say the other should do it. Finally, they just load the bike into the back of the company van instead of having one of them ride it back to the shop the way they usually do.
Take That: one promo indicates their resentment for Cajun Pawn Stars, although the words they used can be a Stealth Pun ("knockoffs", "the real deal"), considering their trade.
Too Awesome to Use: A man brought in a launch key used for the Russian space program. It was confirmed as genuine and likely worth a lot of money to the right person, but Rick didn't even want to even try and buy it because he didn't know anyone who would pay upwards of $10,000 for a small piece of titanium.
This is a general problem with truly one-of-a-kind items, which could potentially be worth a king's ransom. Sadly, their uniqueness means that it's almost impossible to figure out how much these things would or could sell for, which could mean either a huge profit or a huge loss when Rick finally finds a buyer. Oftentimes he simply won't make an offer because the risk is too great, and when he does the customers typically reject his offer as too low.
Rick once mentioned that Chumlee would have been fired from any other job, but since he and Corey have been best friends since childhood, Chumlee is almost family.
Chumlee also has the saving grace of being a Genius Ditz in that he's a very good salesman when he's motivated. The real idiots are the thieves and burglars who try to sell their stolen merchandise to the pawn shop. On the History Television website, the crew shows off the extensive database they have for all their inventory, which is regularly checked by the police for stolen property. At least one criminal was actually caught by the cops when the pawn shop informed them of the stuff he was trying to sell them.
Corey isn't much less of a liability than Chumlee. While Chumlee as mentioned is a Genius Ditz, Corey is often plain clueless on the true value of items people bring in, and thus makes them offers far below what the item is actually worth and what he could make selling it because he doesn't know any better. He also often makes deals without consulting experts or discussing it with Rick or the Old Man, and the two usually get furious when he does because often it blows up in his face.
The guy who, unable to deal with the fact that he'd ruined his Porsche engine by being too big of an idiot to store it properly, kept insisting the Count was wrong and that Rick should call in a "real" or "professional" mechanic. He was lucky that the Count is either a lot nicer than he looks or that the cameras were on him. The tension in the air when he says it makes it look like Rick's wondering why the Count hasn't beaten the crap out of him already.
The customer who came in trying to sell a "World War II ejection seat", despite the fact that ejection seats didn't even exist during that time. What's even worse is that the expert points out that the seat was never used, and could still be fired off if triggered, and the seller was using it as a living room chair. The fact that the seller didn't seem particularly disturbed or upset that he could have possibly shot himself into the roof at over a hundred miles per hour speaks volumes about his character.
Took a Level in Badass: As of the fourth season, Chumlee has begun negotiating for a few low-level items and he's actually been doing an okay job. Even the Old Man stood back and let him negotiate with a customer who was trying to sell them a 1970s boom box. The guy was trying to sell it for $250, but Chum haggled him down to $90 by pointing out how it was kind of beat up.
He does even better. He bought an original signed Charles Lindbergh autobiography for about $300, but he didn't get it checked out. It would've turned out bad for him since the signature was an unusual signature. But when he had Rebecca check it out, he found out he could sell it for about $600.
Trophy Room: In a way, the entire shop. There are a select few items that Rick is proud of owning and will not sell them unless it's for absurd amounts of money, like his prized Patriots Super Bowl ring. Sometimes Rick is also tempted to keep choice items for himself, such as a jukebox that he could sell at a $1,400 profit but that plays some of his favorite music.
Another such item is a stamp crafted by Benjamin Franklin that he bought and stuck an enormous price to it to keep people from buying it.
In one of the videos posted on the shop's YouTube page, the Old Man mentions that he's got a collection of several classic cars and trucks, some of which he no doubt acquired from customers.
Unsatisfiable Customer: The boys make an effort to avoid this trope. On the Pawn Stars section of the History Television website, there are a number of videos filmed by the cast that explain many of the ins and outs of the pawn industry. In one of the videos, Rick and the Old Man point out that if you really want to get a good deal from a pawnbroker, you should be polite. Being a Jerkass won't get you anywhere.
In an early episode, a guy brings in a Coke machine to sell to Rick. When Rick buys it, he takes it to Rick's Restorations to have it restored. As it turns out, the guy selling the Coke machine is Rick's brother (of Rick's Restorations).
A guy selling a guitar and the expert brought in to assess the value of the guitar both work for the same guitar shop, yet the show portrays them as not knowing one another.
The Watson: Chumley often plays this role accompanying Rick when he makes deals.
We Buy Anything: With only a few exceptions, the Harrisons are willing to buy almost anything they think they can profit on. Rick once said that he'd be willing to buy a fifty pound pile of manure if he thought he could sell it to someone. There are some exceptions, though:
Alcohol (Shop does not have a liquor license)
Anything stolen (The police do check up on pawn shops once in a while)
Anything illegal (items made of ivory after the ban on the ivory trade, for example)
Guns made after 1898 (weapons from before 1898 are considered "antiques" while guns made after that date require gun dealer permits to sell)
Nazi items and those rare items that are just too disturbing to buy.
an old video ca 2004 from Insomniac with Dave Attel had Rick show off bunch of Nazi Weapons so it may be a more recent rule.
There's actually a market for certain acknowledged forgeries and fake items (for the artistry of the forger, the history behind the scam, etc.), but Rick won't touch them. As he noted, even a slight chance that one of his employees might unknowingly sell the item as "the real thing" would put his business in jeopardy.
There are exceptions, he was willing to buy a Joseph Cosey forgery of Abraham Lincoln but it turned out to be a copy.
He does buy a fake item if it is made of precious metals, say fake gold Spanish Coins, but he will melt it down before just selling it for its metal value only.
“Well Done Son” Guy: There are times when Rick doubts Corey's ability to eventually take over the shop, which Corey obviously resents. Then again, it's arguably Justified when Corey makes boneheaded decisions like buying a hot air balloon (for $38,000), a boat (Rick says that boats never make money), and a Belgian motorcycle (which has very rare parts and is expensive to maintain).
The boat, however, made sufficient money that it actually caused Rick to get rid of the shop's "no boats" policy, and went on to make good money from buying another one later. In that case, it was played quite straight, as Rick made money and acknowledged Corey's accomplishment, but took some time to be gracious about it.
And then there are the times when Rick is just being an asshole to Corey when he has absolutely no reason to:
In one episode, he was giving Corey grief for spending "too much" money on getting a car restored, even though they'd be able to sell it at a nice profit when the car was ready. It got to the point where the Old Man intervened and bluntly told Rick to shut up, stating that they were going to see the project through.
Corey gets the poster back... only for Rick to find the other three posters sold later on. Old Man sold them for profit because he thought he money was better than "a damn poster".
Came close to being invoked by name in Blaze of Glory:
Hoss: "Just say 'good job, son'."
Rick: "I ain't sayin' it."
One time, Corey buys a program from the 1932 NFL Playoff Game for $2,750, giving justifiable reasons for why it's worth it. Rick and the Old Man both chew him out for it until he gets it looked at by an expert who reveals it's worth $10,000 for pretty much the same reasons Corey thought it was valuable (it's extremely rare, there only being around four in existence, one of which is in the Football Hall of Fame and in worse condition than the one he bought). When Corey, reasonably, asks for an apology, they chew him out again even though he was completely right about it.
An episode or two later Corey does a Call Back to this when he pays a lot for a panel off of an SR-71 Blackbird and it turns out they'll probably only break even. Rick starts to blow his top even though he's done the same thing several times lately himself, only for the Old Man to actually come to Corey's defense. "You weren't any better when you were his age." Oddly enough, the Old Man seems to be more gracious about this sort of thing, such as when he apologized to Corey for yelling at him for buying the Stretch Serpent head. See Cool and Unusual Punishment, above.
And again when Corey decides to take a risk and buy a katana for $1500. Rick and the Old Man explode at the fact that he didn't have the katana checked out before purchasing. However, when the sword expert informs them that the katana was owned by genuine samurai and could be worth $15,000 when fully restored, they still can't bring themselves to admit that Corey actually did a good job.
This finally comes to its natural conclusion in one of the later episodes, where Corey reveals that he is considering taking up employment at another pawn shop because he's tired of being treated like shit by his father and grandfather.
Though Corey often treats his father like shit as well, sometimes out of pure boredom and just wanting to upset him. One example had Corey give away Rick's lunch for 5 days straight to a different staff member. When Rick finally catches him, he tells him he owes him 5 sandwhiches in which Corey goes out and does just that, buys 5 cheap prepackaged sandwiches that would go bad before Rick could eat them all. Corey is completely unsympathetic after his father complains.
Rick Isn't immune either. He once bought a mini sub for $3,500. The Old Man chews him out for violating the above stated no boat policy which Rick points out it's a submarinenot a boat. While it wouldn't be worth the money to restore ($100,000) an expert tells Rick he could sell it as is for $10,000. Of course The Old Man tells him he got lucky.
Wham Episode: The late November-December 2012 episodes are shaping up to be this, as Corey is beginning to become increasingly dissatisfied with his job, and increasingly fed up with how Rick and the Old Man treat him.
What an Idiot: Some customers are convinced by extremely obvious fakes, such as a woman who brought in a tricycle that had a pedal disconnected from the wheel, or a guy who brought in a "French" statue that had made in the US stamped straight on the item. Some of these people still don't believe the pawn shop shop when they say it is fake.
Presumably, he does find out about it. It was broadcast on national TV, after all.
Where Da White Women At?: Not on the show itself, but in Rick's book License To Pawn. In it, Rick recounts the story of a black pimp who came in to pawn some of his bling jewelry and brought an entourage of white women in with him. The pimp explained to Rick that many of his black customers couldn't resist what the pimp called the "forbidden fruit" appeal of white women, and so they'd pay huge sums to get with his white girls.
Worthless Yellow Rocks: Played with. As noted above, their have been a few one of a kind items that have came into the shop, pieces that may be worth huge amounts of money. It is entirely worthless to the Pawn shop, however, because they have no idea how much they could actually sell it, so tend to not even make an offer.
You Have Been Warned: Usually, this is done mostly by the experts who advise the gang into not buying items for a variety of reasons, from the item being a fake, to being potential moneypits, to avoiding possible legal problems.
Rick is shown a guitar built from a Tortoise shell. He is unsure of the legalities of buying such an item, let alone even possessing one. His expert advises him not to buy the guitar because it is such a legal landmine given the laws on the books and that it would be better to err on the side of caution.
Xanatos Gambit: One episode has Rick testing Corey's knowledge of shop merchandise. If he wins, he gets $2500 but if he losses he has to work the graveyard shift. Corey gets 3/4 right. The Old Man steps in, says he fails, and punishes Rick too for arranging the bet without his permission. To the Camera Crew, Old Man explains that neither one of them would win. He himself wanted a break from one of them and regardless of how the contest ended, one of them would not be working during the day.