In just two years, History Channel’s Pawn Stars has become a runaway hit. The reality show set inside a family-owned Las Vegas store called Gold & Silver Pawn Shop is often the number one show on cable. Part educational and part entertainment, Pawn Stars offers an array of interesting items that people are attempting to sell or pawn (usually sell). The stories behind the items, the authentication and the negotiating between the shop and the patrons make up each episode.
The show has made celebrities out of owner Rick Harrison, his father Richard (“The Old Man”), son Corey and Corey’s friend, Austin “Chumley” Russell and turned the shop into a bit of a tourist attraction.
The artifacts, toys, guns, machines and display pieces shown on Pawn Stars may not be typical of your everyday pawn shop , but it’s all part of what keeps viewers tuning in.
Left Field Productions is in charge of producing each episode and they’ve rounded up a variety of guests since season one to provide information and authentication. Now, a local sports memorabilia shop owner has begun making appearances. Jeremy Brown, owner of Ultimate Sports Cards and Collectibles in Vegas, has become the go-to guy for sports memorabilia that becomes part of the show. He’s appeared in a couple of episodes already with more already shot and waiting for air.
“Opening a sports memorabilia and card shop is a dream that most kids and adults have at one time or another since it allows you to deal with something you’re passionate about on a daily basis,” he said. “Having an opportunity like Pawn Stars come along is an absolute blessing since it allows me to take a big step forward and share this with millions of people.”
We caught up with Jeremy for a Q&A about his involvement, the show itself and the Harrison clan.
How did you get this gig? Did you approach the production company or did they find you? How long did it take for them to bring you on board?
Landing this once in a lifetime opportunity has been an amazing experience and I feel the best is yet to come. I was first contacted by their production company in New York (Left Field) who was looking for a local business owner to become their memorabilia expert. Being a huge fan of the show, I was in complete “awe” and honestly did not think that I made much an impression during the phone interview since my nerves had gotten the best of me. Within the next couple of days, I got back in touch with them and after a few more series of Q&A, they told me that they’d love to have me appear as their new memorabilia/card expert when the next need arises. Fortunately it wasn’t long until I got “the call” and so far to date, I’ve filmed around 12 scenes! The production/air time can be anywhere from as soon as a couple months to a couple years based on how they determine which scenes are to be on which episodes.
What’s the shooting schedule like and how often will you be called?
There really isn’t a set schedule….it’s all based on whenever the need arises that they need my input. At first it was 1 every other week. After that, there was a time I filmed 3 in about a week. The production company does a great job coordinating all of it and shooting typically takes a few hours.
To the viewer, it looks like they call you when someone comes in with a sports memorabilia-related question, but I suspect it’s a little more organized than that?
Not able to disclose. They make me sign a lot of disclaimers.
You’ve taped around a dozen episodes as we’re doing this interview. What items have you seen so far?
With all the mystery & excitement the show brings, the production company is very particular and tight lipped not to have this leaked out. What I can say is that they’ve certainly challenged me with the wide variety and uniqueness of many of the items I’ve been called upon to review.
I assume you’re compensated for your time, but I would also expect that the exposure has been and will continue to be valuable for your shop. What kind of an effect has it had?
In this case, compensation is “subjective”. The sheer fact that seven million people watch this show every week absolutely blows my mind and holds tremendous potential value! Despite the fact I’ve only had two episodes air so far, my in-store traffic and especially call volume have increased exponentially. Of course there have been many calls from people who see the show and want to talk about their personal items and receive more information about them which can be quite time consuming, but the show has opened a lot of doors for me to purchase items where I wouldn’t have had the opportunity otherwise. My challenge is how to fully capitalize on this once in a lifetime opportunity; in terms of additional means of exposure, advertising, etc.
Have you always had a strong interest in all types of sports memorabilia and have you been able to impart some of your knowledge to the people who’ve been working on the show?
Sports and sports memorabilia have always been a passion of mine throughout my life. While I follow all sports to some degree, football and baseball are what I’m most familiar with. With regards to the show, things such as statistics, life experience and off-the-wall facts are what they like to hear.
The show is built around The Old Man, Rick, Corey and Chum…their personalities really help drive viewership. You’ve been around them. What are they like in person and do they really spend much time in the shop?
My first taping I filmed was a scene with Corey & the Old Man, however Rick and Chum were both there as well. Being a huge fan of the show, I was first completely star struck but soon after talking with them all it was like hanging out with old friends. In between filming, there are moments of down time where I’ve had several conversations with all of them at times. They’re all genuine guys, and other than the flashy cars they drive, you’d never know that they’re all famous world-wide. Everyone always asks me what the guys are really like, and like everyone else, I had my own assumptions about them as well leading up to the first show. Rick is as every bit sharp and witty as he appears on TV, Corey really knows his stuff as well and is a lot like his father with some of the quick/sarcastic things he comes up with. The Old Man provides a lot of relevant personal experience and I can tell that the Pawn Shop is his life’s passion. Chum…..is Chum….how can you not like him!
The shop itself has become quite a Vegas tourist attraction. Is it even possible to get in there and walk around?
Rick told me that they can have anywhere from 2,000-4,000 visitors daily and depending on if they are doing taping on that day or not, it can become a zoo to get in. They control the traffic quite well though so it doesn’t get too crowded inside.
Those of us who’ve worked in TV are often our own worst critic, wishing we’d said or done something differently, looked or acted differently on camera. Are you your own worst critic and what kind of tips do you get, if any, from those who work on the show about being on TV?
I am without a doubt my own worst critic! After each and every episode I’ve filmed, I beat myself up over things I should of, could of, would of said. All of the production staff there is very laid back and encouraging which makes it easier while filming. They do their best to make it a fun experience while remaining professional. I don’t know many people who like how they look in pictures or sound on the phone, but as nervous as I was leading up to my first air date I was relieved once I saw how it all came together when it came on TV.