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With Mamma Mia!, Vegas Nocturne, Viva Elvis!, Pawn... [Continued]

Question of the Day August 22, 2014

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Friends of mine went last week to the pawn shop ("Pawn Stars") and were told there is now an admission charge of $22 Really? If so, Rick and the crew have really gotten greedy!


This was the first we'd heard of any such thing and, frankly, it made zero sense. We called Gold & Silver Pawn downtown, the enterprise on which History Channel's "Pawn Stars" and "Pawnography" shows are based, and received confirmation that there is indeed no admission charge. The only "store" we can think of in town that's ever levied a cover fee for entry is the Ferrari showroom at Wynn, which charges $10 per person.

Even though the majority of the 4,000-or-so people who allegedly pass through the doors at Gold & Silver each day are there in hopes of catching a glimpse of one of the "stars" or bagging an autograph, we figure Rick Harrison must do enough business from hawking to the gawkers -- be it from the array of items up for sale in the showroom or from souvenirs -- to make it more than worth his while.

Hence, we sensed no chagrin last summer when it was announced that Gold & Silver would be closing for a few days to perform a much-needed facelift, due to the inevitable wear and tear imposed by all that foot traffic. Business-savvy, however, Harrison and his "crew" certainly are: Even though the showroom was closed, they set up shop outside in the parking lot, selling t-shirts, jewelry, and other souvenirs to the tourist crowd, while the Express Window for those actually wishing to pawn, sell, or buy remained open 24/7, as usual.

Despite the recent flop of the spin-off production show, Pawn Stars Live, which debuted at the Golden Nugget before transitioning briefly to the Riviera, and in which Rick had both a financial and a creative stake, we don't think he's hard-up for cash, or greedy: While there's a bus tour you can book that takes you behind the scenes at Gold & Silver and the other associated "spin-off" enterprises, including Count's Kustoms and Toy Shack, it's $80+/person, when Count's Kustoms and Rick's Restoration both offer a free tour of their premises. We've heard feedback from several readers who've done both and who found the staff to be friendly and amenable, so save your cash! The stars of these shows also regularly host or participate in charity events and fundraisers, and Rick Harrison is vocal about giving back to the community: "The city’s always been pretty decent to me," he commented recently.

Harrison also recently announced an ambitious plan to construct yet another retail/dining venue adjacent to his store. You can see a plan for "Pawn Star Plaza" in a recent edition of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. While part of the idea stems from not wanting folks to spend a tedious eternity waiting in line for a peak at the store and its proprietors, a bigger incentive certainly is to make money from those bored hordes because, as Rick stated quite candidly when interviewed about it, "making money is my third or fourth most-favorite thing in the world!" Fair enough. He's a businessman and we all need to eat. But he doesn't need to put food on his table by gouging tourists just to take a look. We wonder if your friends were simply misinformed by someone else, or if there was some particular special event taking place that we didn't hear about, or if they actually went to the wrong store!

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