Musings

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Pawn Stars

The History channel on TV was one of my favorites when it showed biographies of famous people. It fell out of favor for me when it began to show things that, to my mind, were not real history. And so I did not tune into it. Recently, I have rediscovered this channel because of it's show Pawn Stars. I find enjoyment in this simple show about a pawn shop in Las Vegus.

I remember the first pawn shop I ever entered, it was in downtown Detroit. We had ridden the Baker Streetcar to Griswold and from there walked to a series of small shops. That area today is covered by Cobo Hall. There must have been four pawn shops in that area and they were known to us as being owned by Jews. Whether that was true or not we really did not know, nor cared.

Five of us had come into the area to get shirts for our sandlot baseball team. One of the guys knew about this place where we would be able to get shirts for a good price. I was twelve years old at the time and had the position of first base on the team. We did not have a name for the team, but when we saw some cool shirts with a bulldog on them, we right then and there decided to buy the shirts and the name of our team became the Bulldogs. Having completed our purchases, we did some sight seeing in the area.

There was a pawn shop a few doors down from where we bought the shirts. In the display windows were displayed an assortment of jewelry, musical instruments, tools, typewriters, adding machines, coin collections and stamp collections. All of us entered and found it a strange, dark place. There were not as many display cases as found in most stores. Many items were hung on the wall, large items were strewn about on the floor. I particularly remember a race car in the back of the store. Three elderly people ran the store and they looked at us very suspiciously, we felt like crooks. The discomfort we felt soon overtook us and we left.

The pawn shop in Pawn Stars is well lit and inviting. The owner Rick is an amiable, good natured man. He is smiling most of the time and takes great interest in the items that people bring in. His knowledge about rare items and their history is astonishing. I like him. The show generally revolves around Rick, the items brought in, proof of value, how that proof is ascertained and the negotiation about the price. Many items are old and of interest to collectors. Age and condition affect the price paid. It is fascinating to me.

Pat cannot understand my interest, she sees only an offshoot of "The Road Show" and is not interested in that either. I do like "Road Show" but not nearly as much as Pawn Stars. Why is that? It may be the fact that these owners are ready to part with their treasure. For sure I am interested in the final established price that the item gets from the Pawn Shop. When an owner asks for a high price (and nearly all do) I am amused at how Rick brings them to reality and reminds them that he is in business to make a profit and must pay a lower price than the established retail price given by the expert. (Academics who teach that businesses should not make a profit should watch this show.) I challenge myself to estimate what price Rick will start the negotiation, it pleases me when I am close.

The main point for watching is the historical aspect of this show, and it is why it appears on the History Channel. Items that I have read about in many of the books I have read are continually showing up: Colt revolvers, civil war caps, WWII flying jackets with emblems, scales dating back to the 17th century, old coins, original Disney sketches, first edition comic books, a blunderbuss gun, old slot machines, old juke boxes, etc, etc. All are valued and most are purchased by the pawn shop for future sale. Nearly everything has a history an it's history is told in an informative manner. Yes, I like this show.

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