For the past 10 years, I’ve had a recurring obsession that completely overtakes my media consumption habits for weeks at a time: Pawn Stars.
It is exceedingly difficult to hammer down a single primary reason for my overwhelming interest in the show. I can and have gone months without watching a single clip, but whenever a random Googling brings me to a Pawn Stars video on YouTube or an article about Rick Harrison comes up on my news sites, I’m hooked all over again.
After a considerable amount of soul searching, I have narrowed down the number of reasons I love Pawn Stars to four key elements.
History through Original Artifacts
Pawn Stars is nothing if not a great way to see unique items straight out of history.
Whether it’s an early revolver created during the Civil War or a piece of paper on which Albert Einstein worked out a mathematical equation, the ability for these objects to prompt history lessons that are otherwise forgotten about is remarkable.
Through a single five-minute clip of Pawn Stars, viewers are introduced to scientific concepts such as the cosmological constant which has been a largely obsolete piece of scientific history for nearly a century. Pawn Stars finds a way to bring that information to the forefront of viewer’s minds like few storytelling mediums can.
A Great Show for Collectors
Imagine you’re building your nest egg and you want to diversify your investments as much as possible. Investors commonly put their money into stocks, cryptocurrency, precious metals, and some even put their money into collectables like art.
Pawn Stars is nothing if not a source of inspiration for a collector looking to find a niche category of things to shop around for. The show focuses a lot on history (as the name of its network implies) which is a great source of collectable memorabilia. It also delves into more traditional collectables such as art, classic toys, and trading cards.
For investors looking for inspiration to get off the couch and visit yard sales each weekend, Pawn Stars is a great show. Sellers often go to the shop with items they found for pennies and walk away with a healthy return on their investment.
While most yard sales are devoid of this kind of deals, Pawn Stars is enough to get the imagination going.
Antique guns and swords are great, but what really fascinates me about Pawn Stars are the rare vintage books. It happens all the time on the show: A customer walks in with a book from hundreds of years ago and viewers are treated with a history lesson about the author, the book itself, and about the printing process of the era.
It never ceases to amaze me just how valuable some of those old books are, and what does and doesn’t affect the book’s value in terms of condition.
In one episode, a customer walked in with a single leaf (two pages) of the Gutenberg Bible. The expert appraised the leaf at ~$80,000!
Pawn Stars is really like watching two shows at once. One show is a history lesson, and the other is a master class on haggling. After each item is evaluated by the pawnshop’s staff and/or third-party expert, the viewers witness a negotiation over the item.
The pawnshop’s team needs to turn a profit on every item purchased by the shop. This means whatever they buy has to be far enough below the price they expect to make from it to cover overhead, storage, risk (in the event of fraud, theft, etc.), and to make some profit off of the sale.
The person selling the item also wants to get a good deal, especially when the expert appraises their item at far above the value they initially believed it to have.
The negotiation portion of the show is sometimes sloppy, and sometimes brilliant. Depending on the seller, and which member of the Pawn Stars cast is buying, the agreed-upon price is usually a win-win for both parties.
I absolutely love Pawn Stars. It’s one of the best shows on television and has been for 16 incredible seasons.
Featured Image by Mike Salvucci.