From an engraved whale's tooth to sunken treasure from the Taj Mahal dynasty, the Pawn Starshave seen a fair share of historic — and obscure — items come through their Las Vegas shop. But what items does Rick "The Boss" Harrison think are the coolest things he currently has in his family-run store?
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TVGuide.com caught up with the star of History's hit series (Mondays at 10/9c) to find out the answer, as well as to find out how the business came to be and what it's like working with his son and father (aka "the old man"). Plus: Find out about their eBay charity auction
where the winning bidder will get to intern at the pawn shop with the whole gang.TVGuide.com: How did your family get into the pawn business?
My dad had always bought and sold gold and other stuff. In '81, he went broke because of real estate, so he moved us to Vegas and opened a small second-hand store. We always wanted a pawn license because there's a lot more money in that. But the problem was that in Las Vegas, there was a moratorium on pawn shops. I read the city code and in 1955 the good old boys in Vegas said, "We want to make a monopoly on this" and said they were going to issue another license when the population reached 250,000 — which they never thought would happen because there was only 25,000 people there then. When the population did reach 250,000, I went and demanded my business license. Four months later, the judge said, "He was the first one here; give him the pawn license."TVGuide.com: You have an amazing amount of knowledge about the items that come through your store. How did you get so good at this?
There's a lot of learning as you go, and I am an incredible bookworm. Up until a few years ago, I would read three or four hours a night. I mean, I read science books, chemistry books, history books. I read that stuff for fun. And eventually all of it started melding together. It not only helps when I'm buying the stuff, but when I'm selling it too. So, I'm not that cool; I'm just a bookworm.TVGuide.com: What's it like working with your dad and son?
I like to put it like this: The best part of my business is working with my family, and the worst part of my business is working with my family. [Laughs
]TVGuide.com: Your dad is there a lot.
My dad is there every
day. As a matter of fact, he will fib to my mom so he can come to work. "Dad, why you here today? You're not on the schedule." "I know." [Laughs
] I've literally had my mom call me up and say, "Why'd you make your dad come to work today?" He loves that shop.TVGuide.com: You and your family are also in the middle of a Pawn Star charity auction. Tell us about it.
History channel came up with the idea for the auction and I came up with the charity, which is the YMCA of Southern Nevada. It's an auction where apparently you get to hang out with us for a weekend. [Laughs
] We're going to be at the Palms and have dinner there, play poker, and the next day you get to intern at the pawn shop.TVGuide.com: What's the coolest stuff in your store right now?
The coolest stuff in my store right now is a flag that's been on the moon and the No. 1 Playboy
with Marilyn [Monroe].TVGuide.com: Are there ever things that come through that you don't want to sell?
With things like that, I like to put them in the store and put really exorbitant price tags on them, so they don't sell for a year or two. And then, once I'm over it, I sell it. Otherwise, I'd have a whole house decorated in pawn shop motif!