Almost a decade ago, TV audiences got a glimpse into the lives of three unpretentious pawn brokers running a shop in Las Vegas. Rick, Corey, and "The Old Man," three generations of the Harrison family, have since then been entertaining viewers of Pawn Stars with a mix of historical trivia and family conflict.
Over the years, the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop has seen plenty of exotic items pass by. From antique coins to collectible toys and celebrity memorabilia, their shop seems to attract a wide variety of goods. The items are always accompanied by interesting historical facts or an amusing backstory.
The general knowledge of the cast varies, but they each shine in an individual area of expertise.
When the show was first made, it was part of History’s plan to diversify its programming and reach broader audiences. The channel had previously focused on in-depth military programming and wanted to add some lighter fare to the line-up.
Pawn Stars offers viewers a buffet of kooky characters, curious items, and familial tensions. The format is a welcome breathing space in between History's information-heavy programming.
Even though the show comes across as laid back to viewers, that does not mean that the cast can take it easy. Running a pawn shop, and especially one that also functions as a television set, is a complicated business with rigid rules to follow to insure Pawn Stars' continued success.
Here are 21 Crazy Restrictions The Cast Of Pawn Stars Must Obey.
21 They Do Not Get To Choose Which Items To Show
When you watch Pawn Stars, you get the impression that people are walking in off the street with rare and unusual items. In reality, this is not exactly the case.
Keeping a crew on site to film all the transactions that take place would be both intrusive and expensive. For this reason, production vets items before they appear on the show.
Store employees will usually pick out interesting objects they come across during their work day and show them to production. The sellers will then be called to come back to go through with the deal on camera. The cast, however, have no say in which items will be brought in for the show.
20 They Have To Endure Embarrassing Punishments
One of the greatest sins the cast of Pawn Stars can commit is purchasing an item they will not make money on. Whenever this happens, they will often receive a humiliating punishment from their boss.
In season 4, viewers were treated to a particularly ingenious punishment.
Corey had made the mistake of purchasing an Evel Knievel pin-ball machine for more money than he could sell it for. As a result, he had to set up the machine so that customers could play on it. He was also tasked with emptying the machine for quarters after each shift to make up for lost profits.
The Harrison heir was not happy about being assigned this entry-level task, to say the least.
19 They Must Document Clients’ Faces
A set of stringent rules and regulations set forth by the State governs the pawning business. Among these rules is the requirement for pawn brokers to keep a book of all their transactions.
This might seem like a straight-forward requirement, but there are some unusual specifications that go along with the mandatory bookkeeping.
Pawn brokers are not only obliged to pen down the name, age and address of the person they do a transaction with, they also have to write a description of their facial features.
For cast member Chumlee, who often shows great appreciation for the shop's female clientele, one can only imagine what balladry these descriptions inspire.
18 They Have To Buy Things They Don't Want
The show’s ability to find strange items with interesting stories is part of what draws viewers in. But striking a deal on a very unusual object can be a risky gamble. It is often difficult for the cast to know if a potential buyer exists and how much they would be willing to part with for said item.
Executive producer Brent Montgomery quickly figured out that a show with very few sales would lose some of its appeal.
He therefore prompted the cast to buy items that they otherwise would not, so that the show would center around deals being made and not simply be a presentation of curious objects.
17 They Are No Longer Allowed To Work At The Counter
During the Pawn Stars' first seasons, fans could stop by the store and bump into their favorite television stars. As the show became more popular, the cast could no longer work at the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop’s counter.
Nevada has strict privacy laws that protect sellers looking to pawn an item. The cast of the show have become so famous that they can no longer ensure the privacy of the store’s patrons when they are working at the counter. Fans are constantly snapping pictures of them and might snap a picture of a client as well.
To protect the privacy of unsuspecting shoppers and sellers, the Pawn Stars' cast only does business on the show.
16 They Have To Spend Every Workday Around Family
The Gold & Silver Pawn Shop is a family-run business, that was led by the late Richard Benjamin "The Old Man" Harrison. The Old Man was the patriarch who kept his son Rick and grandson Corey in check.
For these three men, working on the show meant spending every day around family. There are certain benefits to this, as Corey discovers each time he messes up and still gets to keep his job.
Working with family can come with challenges as well.
Family members can often take you for granted and refuse to let go of control.
In season 6, Corey threatens to quit if he does not get a 10% stake in the company. Fortunately for fans of the Big Hoss, the Harrison elders caved in the end.
15 They Must Show Up For Work Five Days A Week
Even though they have relinquished some of their duties in the store, the cast of Pawn Stars cannot kick back and live a life of leisure. The show films several times a day from Monday to Friday and the cast have to be on location and ready to shine for the cameras. Their positions might have changed, but they still have to show up to work five days a week.
In addition to appearing on the show, Rick also runs a bar in Las Vegas and a shopping center next to the pawn shop. His colleague Chumlee, on the other hand, DJs in various Las Vegas venues and manages a candy shop on the side.
It is safe to say that the gang from Gold & Silver Pawn Shop keep themselves busy and are making the most of their success.
14 They Can Never Make The First Offer
Several business insiders have admired Rick’s negotiating skills and techniques. Long time viewers of the show might already have noticed one of his signature tactics, which he reveals in an interview with CNN.
Harrison explains that in a negotiation you can never make the first offer. Instead, you have to urge the seller to give you a number first.
If you make the first bid, you might offer much more than the seller was actually hoping for and negotiations will start off in their favor.
To get the best possible deals, the cast of Pawn Stars always refrain from making the first move.
13 They Cannot Pawn Firearms
Fans of the show might be surprised to see this restriction. The truth is, the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop does carry a wide selection of exotic firearms, but none of the weapons are made after 1898.
The reason the shop sticks to strictly antique guns is because they do not have a Federal Firearms License. In his book License to Pawn, Rick Harrison touches on the subject.
According to Harrison, The Old Man stole a car in his youth which left him ineligible for the firearms license.
Harrison also explains that dealing in modern firearms involves a large amount of paperwork. Considering how much paperwork running a pawn shop alone requires, it is understandable that the Harrison family would not want to add to the pile.
12 They Must Keep Their Clothes On At All Times
This might seem like a strange restriction, but it has proven to have the direst consequences.
When revealing photos of cast member Olivia Black surfaced, she quickly understood just how serious the show's production was about the modesty clause in her contract. She was immediately fired from the show, but she did get to keep her job in the pawn shop.
Without the prospect of future TV appearances, Black left the position and moved on to other opportunities.
Nowadays she is prospering in the adult entertainment industry and does not seem to want to go back to working the counter.
11 They Must Report All Transactions To The Police
Pawn dealing is not just about negotiating with customers or knowing what unique items are worth. Being in the pawning business means you have to do extensive and detailed amounts of paperwork each day.
Pawn brokers do not just have to write down the details of each and every transaction, they also have to submit a transcript of all transactions to the police every day.
The transcript, which must include any suspicious activity, has to be handed over to the chief of police by noon.
According to Harrison's book, all of these transactions will also be reported to federal authorities.
10 They Have To Hide Their Chaos From The Shop's Patrons
The Gold & Silver Pawn Shop, which was once a quiet family-run venue, has become one of Las Vegas' biggest tourist attractions. On any given day, you can find a line of people waiting to get in to catch a glimpse of the show's stars or experience the shop first hand.
The locale has had to undergo multiple expansions since Pawn Stars first aired to accommodate for the growing number of visitors.
Despite the adoring crowds, the store still has to cater to clients who are actually looking to pawn something. General manager Travis Benton has said that shielding patrons from the chaos of filming and frenzied fans is one of the biggest challenges the shop faces.
9 They Must Hold On To Items For At Least Three Months
Pawn shops are a great way to get your hands on some quick cash in an emergency. Many people use their services to cover unexpected expenses that pop up. When you pawn valuable belongings at the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop, the state makes sure you have a decent chance of buying your items back.
According to Nevada law, when you pawn a personal item the shop is obliged to hold on to it for 90 days.
Even though the shop charges an interest on your loan, the 90-day period gives customers a good shot at saving up to pay back their interests.
8 They Have To Haggle With Sellers For The Cameras
Producers do not only select the items that will appear on the show-- they also discuss prices with the sellers. They do this to make sure that the sellers are not just looking to be on TV, but actually want to get rid of their stuff. Due to this preparation, a big part of the transaction takes place before any sound and camera crews are on the scene.
But the show would be nothing without the cast's stubborn negotiations.
Even if the producers and sellers agree on a price beforehand, the cast still has to engage the seller in a round of haggling.
That being said, the cast sometimes refuses to pay the minimum asking price. At this point, the seller has no other choice than to leave empty-handed.
7 They must listen to the show's "scripters"
The Harrison family may be ripe with intrigue and rich with knowledge, but they are not the ones who run the show. Like on any other reality show, producers are always trying to create storylines and capture memorable TV moments.
This means that the cast of Pawn Stars are prodded in different directions by producers who are looking to create a captivating show.
Montgomery has admitted that production uses "really smart scripters to feed the characters organic information." This does not mean, however, that the interactions on the show are fake.
Producers usually have a knack for planting ideas or highlighting conflict and stepping back to see how it all plays out.
6 They Can Do Very Little Actual Pawning On TV
Despite what the title suggests, not a lot of pawning takes place on Pawn Stars. While the show has had a positive impact on the reputation of pawn shops, some shop owners have pointed out that their businesses are very different from what you see on the show.
Most pawn shops thrive on relatively small loans and deal mostly in jewelry and electronics. However, watching one customer after the other come in to pawn their laptop would probably not make for great TV. To keep things interesting, Pawn Stars focuses mainly on direct sales of unique collectibles and historical items.
5 They Are Not Allowed To Swear
The cast of Pawn Stars are known for their folksy charm. But not all of the cast members have been pleased with the colorful language some of the younger employees use. In the show’s first season, The Old Man set up a cuss jar to moderate his on-screen companions’ vocabulary. The jar quickly filled up as his fellow pawn brokers failed to control their loose lips.
Despite his stern punishments, The Old Man was respected and adored by his young colleagues.
The military veteran always knew how to keep people in line and how to keep them entertained as well. His recent passing has been a great loss to his family, the show and to fans across the globe.
4 They Do Not Appraise Items
Unlike their counterparts on Antiques Roadshow, the cast of Pawn Stars refrains from doing appraisals. They will, however, sometimes seek out the advise of an expert to understand what an item is worth or to verify its authenticity. Even though they have to know what things are worth, the pawn shop's services are strictly related to buying and selling.
The Gold & Silver Pawn Shop's homepage clearly states that all clients looking to appraise an item will be directed to a third party. If any viewers are looking to appraise and sell their belongings on television, they will have to make two stops.
3 They Have To Be Honest With Sellers
Honesty is the best policy, and no one knows this better than Rick Harrison. If a seller comes in requesting much less than what the item is worth, he will often offer them a substantially better deal.
On a particularly memorable episode, a seller came in with an antique brooch she had inherited from her mother. Not knowing what the piece was worth, she asked for 2000 dollars. Harrison took a good look at the brooch before telling the woman that he would offer her 15 000 dollars for it instead.
Harrison admitted that being honest with customers pays off in the long run.
Having a reputation for ripping people off is horrible marketing, which is why the cast of Pawn Stars always keeps it real.
2 They Have To Put Up With Copy Cats
Pawn Stars has not been without its share of imitators. TLC's Pawn Queens and TruTV's Hardcore Pawn are notable copies of Pawn Stars' original format.
The show that irked the cast the most was supposedly History's own Cajun Pawn Stars.
Back in 2012, the cast got into a legal battle with their former manager when he leaked this information to the press. To the Harrisons' relief, the new show was canceled after just one year. Since then, new iterations of Pawn Stars have popped up in the UK and Australia. These newcomers, however, have the Harrison stamp of approval.
1 They Have To Stick To Cable
Before they ended up on History, the cast of Pawn Stars had a deal with HBO to produce a Taxicab Confessions style show. The template did not work, and when they were picked up by History the format was reconstructed.
Their current 9-year run proves the new format has been a hit and it seems the show has found a permanent home on the channel. Hopefully they will not have to go looking for a new place to advertise their trade.
Marsha Bemko, executive producer of Antiques Roadshow on PBS, explained in an interview that the show could never appear on her channel. Pawn Stars engages in active selling and buying, and PBS, like many public broadcasters, is a nonprofit organization which cannot participate in such activities.
Do you know of any other rules the Pawn Stars cast must follow? Let us know in the comments!