Wednesday, September 14, 2011

What We're Reading - License to Pawn by Rick Harrison.

332.34 HARRI
License to Pawn, by Rick Harrison
 Hyperion, 2011. (Central & Buena Vista)

I hate to admit that I am a reality show junkie. I need to modify that with I only watch “educational” reality shows. First there was “Antiques Roadshow”, now there are “Pickers” and “Pawn Stars” on the History Channel. They all bring the story of a lot of junk, some treasures, a bit of history, and greed in the eye of the owners. Rick Harrison and family on Pawn Stars, lay it out to the sellers – they got to make a profit and the deal is there – take it or leave it.

License to Pawn tells us the back story. From “Old Man’s” start with payday loans to sailors on his navy ship, and Rick, his mother and father going to yard sales, to their move to a second hand shop in Vegas, and ultimately getting a coveted license to open the “Gold and Silver” pawn shop. In Vegas it seems, only one license is issued for every 50,000 residents. Rick called the city clerk every Friday till the population got to the magic number. He was first in line with an application. The City, the politicians and the corporations that held the existing licenses wanted it, and Rick had to fight through the courts to keep his right to that license.

The book focuses mainly on the running of the shop and the colorful characters that come in and what they have to sell (furby’s to pimp grills). Rick will buy anything he can make a profit on. The details of a pawn shop are given – it actually is a fair, honest way for people who need it to get money quickly and at a reasonable price. They can either borrow money, or sell their items outright. The laws they operate under – confidential transactions, all items held for thirty days and reported to both the police and Homeland Security to make sure they are not stolen. The book describes what life and business is like after the fame of the success of the TV show.

Each of the stars of the show has their own chapter. Rick suffered from grand mal seizures as a child and would miss school a week at a time. His passion for reading gave him an education he couldn’t get elsewhere. (His wife made him quit cold fusion experiments in the garage after a minor explosion). Old Man we find “was old even when he was young.” Rick gives credit to son Corey “Big Hoss” as being the smartest and best businessman in the group, but Corey tells of his battle with meth addiction. Finally there’s Austin Russell. Better know to all of us as “Chumlee.” He’s not as stupid as he is portrayed on the show.

License to Pawn is a fun read, not too long, and for people who like to watch the show, an insight into the characters we see.

Thanks to Chris R. for the review!

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