Seeing the long queue snaking along Las Vegas Boulevard down to an otherwise nondescript pawn shop, two bewildered German tourists sought out a Filipino traveler for an explanation.
Telling the European backpackers that it was the World Famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop, the one featured in History Channel’s reality show “Pawn Stars,” didn’t help.
The show’s star, pawn shop owner Rick Harrison, is just as perplexed about becoming an overnight sensation. “We were just hoping to get some more business out of it.”
In spite of its thoroughly American theme, “Pawn Stars” has easily crossed over to the Asian region. (The show is even dubbed in Filipino and aired on GMA News TV.)
To touch base with Asian fans, Rick and his son/costar Corey “Big Hoss” Harrison, are touring the region this month. A meet-and-greet with Filipino fans is set Aug. 24 at the Glorietta Activity Center, Palm Drive, in Makati.
In an exclusive e-mail interview, Rick gabs candidly about the art of the deal, the curious chemistry among the cast members, and working with his Old Man and Big Hoss.
Do you still work behind the counter?
We can’t exactly work behind the counter like we used to. A lot of what we do happens behind the scenes. For example, when there is an item that a customer is trying to sell and my employee doesn’t know if it’s genuine or how much it’s worth… my staff will then bring it to me in the backroom to discuss the price.
What one principle do you stick to?
You’ve got to be able to walk away from a deal. You can’t fall in l ove with something. At the end of the day, it’s just “stuff.” And never give the first price when negotiating. Get their number first.
How would you describe yourself as a businessman?
I’ve learned through many trials and errors. My father taught me a lot and just being in the shop daily has taught me a lot, too.
How often does Old Man go to work?
Old Man has been reporting for work five days a week before and after the show became a hit. He will never retire. There are times he comes in on his day off. He’s just so used to working insane hours.
How would you describe Old Man away from the cameras?
He is what he is, camera or no camera.
What was Big Hoss like as a child?
He was a punk. I kicked him out many times and he got in trouble many times on top of that. He eventually landed in jail and cleaned up his act.
What’s your relationship like now?
He is my best friend. We are very close.
What is the coolest item ever pawned or sold in the shop?
I’ve accumulated countless unique items. Some of the rarest I’ve purchased and are most proud of are a 16th-century print by German engraver Albrecht Dürer, a Les Paul guitar, and a Native American photogravure worth US$20,000.
Which one regretfully got away?
There are many… for which I tried to strike a deal, but the customer wouldn’t budge.
What was the idea behind your book, “License to Pawn”?
I wanted to tell my life story [in a way that] doesn’t come out on the show. I thought it would be a chance for fans to learn more about me.
What do you love/hate about Las Vegas?
I hate the politics that surround running a business in Vegas. Other than that, Vegas is my home and I love everything it has to offer!