An interview with…Rick Harrison

As part owner of Las Vegas’s Gold & Silver Pawn Shop as featured in the History Channel’s Pawn Stars, Rick Harrison has seen plenty of rare and valuable items come through the door.

Rick ‘The Spotter’ started in the pawn business at the age of 13. He has always been a business minded hustler, and he left school in the 10th grade as he was making around $2000 USD per week selling fake Gucci bags. At the age of 23 he had enough money to set up the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop with his father Richard ‘Old Man’ Harrison. Employing his son Corey ‘Big Hoss’ Harrison and close family friend Austin ‘Chumlee’ Russell, the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop has become the only family-owned pawn shop in Las Vegas.

Pawning involves a customer bringing in an item, and if it has any worth the pawnbroker and customer will agree on an amount of money on which they can borrow against the item. The customer can either come and buy their item back at the same price plus interest, or (if they fail to pick it up) the pawnbroker will sell it on for a profit.

Rick, under the instruction of his father, has become an expert at getting the highest price possible for an item. He also has a very keen eye and more often than not is able to spot fake or stolen items (hence ‘The Spotter’ nickname). In 2009 History Channel debuted the popular show Pawn Stars, which documents the day to day goings on in the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop.

Rick was happy to answer some of my questions:

How did you get into the pawn industry?

My dad and I started a gold and silver store here in Las Vegas in 1981. After the city had a population of over 250,000 (which happened in 1988) they would issue one additional pawn license. I was in line to get it the day the population figure showed that size and we got the license.

How did the History channel show Pawn Stars come about?

It all came together through Leftfield Productions, after four years of talking to different production companies, Leftfield got the concept and got History Channel involved.

Why do you think it has become so popular?

We call it laugh and learn TV. It is very relatable and everyone has someone’s hidden treasure in their world and would love for it to be really valuable and be a surprise windfall.

What is it like working with both your dad and your son?

The best part of working with your family, is working with your family. The worst part of working with your family, is working with your family.

What have been your favourite items that you’ve had through the shop?

It’s got to be the Patriots Super Bowl ring.

What have been the highlights of your career?

We thought we would be lucky for this show to get us a little bit of extra business for a year or so, it is beyond our wildest imagination what has happened. It is the biggest show and most watched show on cable and often beats out network shows in ratings.

Are there any parts of your career you regret?

No, it all adds up to who we are.

If you could have any other job in the world what would it be?

I like what I do!

What has the future got in store for you?

More of this hopefully, we are living the dream. I do have a book coming out in June and I am very excited for that.



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