Spring break is a great time to head to Vegas to decompress, but die-hard fans of The History’s Channel reality show “Pawn Stars” are taking a detour to downtown Las Vegas hoping to catch a glimpse of Rick, Chumlee or a big-time celebrity like Steve Carell or Brett Michaels looking for a rare treasure to add to their collection. The popular reality TV show just premiered its 20th season last month on The History Channel.
Set in Downtown Las Vegas, the World-Famous Gold and Silver Pawn Shop is visited by hundreds of people every year, but the pandemic put an economic strain on Vegas business owners including the Pawn Stars pawn shop.
Joanne Harrison, 81, widow of Richard “The Old Man” Harrison who founded the now famous pawn show, told the National Enquirer the pawn show raked in a measly $37,406 in 2020. In comparison, she claims the pawn shop made $1.6 million in 2018 and $1.3 million in 2019. Joanne is suing her son Rick after he stopped her $25,000 monthly payments and tricked her into signing over her share of ownership.
The pawn shop is definitely a hot spot in downtown Las Vegas thanks to fans who watch the show that’s had its fair share of celebrity appearances. Unfortunately, celebrity traffic is still light these days according to Ricky Valdez, a security guard at the popular pawn shop. “Not tons of celebs have stopped by because it’s been kind of a downtime for us. I’ve seen Logan Paul, a YouTuber, and Mike Tyson’s brother come by a little bit ago.”
Victoria Sours, a fan from Illinois, made her disappointment known to the pawn shop employees when she showed up to the pawn shop only to find fans posing for pictures with a life-size cardboard cutout of Rick Harrison at the back of the store. “I was a little disappointed. I thought there would be more photo ops. But other than that, it’s not too bad.”
Other fans, like Rafael Allende from New Jersey, were not impressed by the size of pawn shop at all. “You want the truth? It is not what you see on The History Channel. First of all, I expected to see one of the characters but they’re not here. I thought it would be bigger, and I would see more popular things like I see on the show. For me it was just a regular pawn shop. I was expecting more.”
To be fair, the pawn shop does house some impressive pieces of art by Picasso, Salvador Dali, and even Andy Warhol’s assistant Gerard Malanga to name a few. Pawn broker Jennifer Sandoval says the pawn shop also houses expensive toys, memorabilia, and jewelry. “My favorite is the ring in case #25. It’s $30,000 dollars.”
Bryce Taylor, who also works at the pawn shop, says his favorite items can be found when you enter the store, “My favorite piece would have to be down at the very front where all the guns are. I definitely like the old-time guns and swords they have here.”
And while many fans fly into Vegas for a weekend, others tend to be Vegas locals like Carmen Kramer who visited the pawn shop for the first time. “They had some very unique, extraordinary pieces, and I’m all about extraordinary jewelry. If it’s extraordinary, I’m with it though. I really like some of their gold pieces that they had in there, and of course the pictures with Snoop Dogg. That was pretty cool.”
But what is it like working for the Harrison family? Valdez seems to be content with working there. “They are really nice people to be honest. A lot of people think that when somebody gets famous, they let the money go to their head. They become really cocky but it’s been the opposite for the guys here. They are really humble, really down to earth. They treat us like family. It’s a great environment.”
If you’re planning to visit the pawn shop the next time you head to Las Vegas, be sure to manage your expectations. While Rick and Chumlee won’t be making a deal with you that day, there are plenty of great items to take home to remember your visit like Mike Tillis from Florida did. “We bought some silver rings just to say we got something here.”