Pawning with personality makes popular TV programming
Picking, pawning, restoring, auctioning
My take on the popularity of pawning is that audiences enjoy characters.
In the case of Pawn Stars, it may be the lack of personality that stirs viewers’ interest. The old man (Richard Harrison) is a character, a crusty guy who is a hard bargainer. His son (Rick) is a smart operator who demonstrates interest in pawners and what they bring to the bench. His son is a dud and his son’s friend, Chumly, is a stooge.
In the case of American Pickers, the dynamics between to two guys driving a pristine Mercedes truck around the US Countryside in search of old signs, toys, and architectural artifacts is a little more amusing because they add banter including that with a highly tattooed assistant back at the ranch. Watching them plough through old barns and piles of debris in search of a prize is fun to watch.
On both shows, it seems they will buy things for half their retail value, providing a cushion until they can find a buyer who will pay the maximum price. They don’t show that part like they do at the auto auction show.
Then, there are the auctioneers, son and mother and company, who get percentage from maximizing the price they get for other peoples’ stuff.
The show that gets my attention is American Restoration (Rick and Tyler Dale). Those guys take old stuff of all kinds and make just like new, restored to perfect operating condition. That is cool and they don’t pull punches on pricing. If someone has a passion for restoring a belonging, they are going to pay for it.
My daughter and I pawned an amplifier. She paid $450 for it eight years ago. She wanted $100 for it and settled for $50. The guys at the music store sold it for $130. That figures, I guess.
For years, pawn shops have had a seedy and hopeless connotation: people pawning items for short-term loans because they can’t get a loan from a bank or don’t qualify for mainstream credit. But over the past five years or so, pawn shops have had a whole new light shed on them.
In this down economy, especially with high credit-card and bank-loan interest rates, pawn shop business is up. Pawn popularity also is up because of reality shows like the History Channel’s "Pawn Stars."