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Visiting the ‘Pawn Stars’ Pawn Shop, Part 3

A closer look at the show's stars and eBay business

This is the third in our three-part series about our visit to Las Vegas’ Gold and Silver Pawn Shop, where the History Channel’s hit show “Pawn Stars” is filmed.

While the store now doubles as a TV studio at times, it remains a thriving business and major tourist attraction in its own right. The store sits right there on South Las Vegas Boulevard, and anyone with a bit of patience—the lines can be long—can walk in.

Although this article is mainly about the pawn shop’s eBay Store, we’ll still include some details about its transformation into a major TV attraction, and what that has meant to the business and the people who run it.

The Gold and Silver Pawn Shop was listing things on eBay, just like many of you reading this article, long before it was the subject of a famous TV show

The Gold and Silver Pawn Shop was listing things on eBay, just like many of you reading this article, long before it was the subject of a famous TV show.

In fact, its employees have listed on eBay for more than 12 years. It has more than 30,000 feedbacks, is a Top-rated Seller and even has an About Me page.

Now, of course, with the fame and fortune that comes with being the subject of a top TV show, things must be a lot different for the shop’s eBay Store. Or are they? To learn more, during our recent trip to the pawn shop, we spoke with Online Store Manager Sean Poe.

What are the pawn stars really like?

Poe’s only been manager a bit more than a year and was brought in when the show started to really get hot. How did he get his cool job?

It turns out he grew up with the store’s manager as well as with show stars Chumlee and “Big Hoss.” If you’ve watched the show or read the other articles in this “Pawn Stars” series, you know the good natured and supposedly dull-witted Chumlee is the show’s most popular star.

His name alone sells swag, from T-shirts to bumper stickers to bobble heads. We assumed Chum’s demeanor was an act. It probably is to some extent. No one that spaced could hold it together as well as he does under the pressure of near-daily TV shooting. But from Poe we learned that the Chum TV viewers see isn’t all that different from the guy he knew in junior high.

His lack of ecommerce experience meant it was trial and error for him at first, as he listed store items, including that swag, but also plenty of electronics and other items

As someone whose relationship with the pawn stars predates the show by many years, we wondered what life was like for Poe working at Las Vegas’ most popular tourist attraction.

“The Old Man,” he says, who is the store’s founder and another fan favorite, “is very business savvy and does not smile much.”

“In fact, only two things make him smile: money and his family,” Poe says. Poe already knew Chum and Big Hoss, of course, but he says they’re just regular guys and great to work with.

That’s not to say things are not a bit crazy at times.
“Fame came so quickly it was a shock at first,” he says. “But [Big Hoss and Chum] handle it well.”

They may be just regular guys still, but Poe joked they are eating better these days. “Better” in their cases must also mean healthier, as they’ve both lost weight since the show started. No, Big Hoss, isn’t exactly Little Joe now—apologies to any of you who have never watched the old TV western “Bonanza”—but he has lost what we heard was a “substantial” amount of weight.

Learning eBay selling from trial and error

When Poe was brought in to run the eBay business, they were just listing things on the site and weren’t especially organized. When he started out, Poe knew virtually nothing about selling online.

“I had sold maybe one or two things on eBay,” he told us. His background was more that of a “jack of all trades, master of none,” having worked for a moving company, as a plumber and as a videographer.

Poe’s lack of ecommerce experience meant it was trial and error for him at first, as he listed store items, including that swag, but also plenty of electronics and other items that we’ll describe soon.

Poe added structure by opening an eBay Store. As we write this, the Gold and Silver Pawn Shop only sells through eBay and does not sell any items directly through its own site, although that site does link to the eBay Store.

And, as you might expect, through the eBay Store they have more swag than ever including lots of World Famous apparel. Popular Chumlee-themed items include a T-shirt that says “Chumlee is my homeboy” for $14.99. And there are pawn shop polo shirts like the stars wear on the show that cost $39.95.

But they also sell a lot of electronics, like iPods, iPhones and computers, and even musical instruments, Poe says. When we checked, there were also some fairly expensive items for sale such as a men’s sterling silver skull link bracelet for $364.99, a 10 karat yellow gold green stones bracelet for $650 and a 1982 Augustine Frank Haselbacher nylon string classical acoustic guitar for $4,000.

Business still business despite fame

“Be as descriptive as you can. Sell items for what they are and not what they’re not”

Fans of the show know of the Old Man’s fondness for silver, and they can buy silver coins with his likeness on it. Made especially to commemorate the Old Man’s 71st birthday, the coins are billed as “Silver Round, 1 Troy Ounce, .999 Fine Silver Coins.”

They’re $65 each, and Poe says they sell about 100 of them per day. That’s $6,500 a day just in those Old Man coins!

Today Poe is much more comfortable with selling on eBay. He even had some advice for eBay sellers: “Be as descriptive as you can,” he said. “Sell items for what they are and not what they’re not.”

On eBay, he has found happy customers and feedback are what’s most important. Despite the pawn shop’s big brand, Poe doesn’t include a lot of branding on and in the packages that go out.

Invoices include the store logo, and if people buy an item featuring Rick Harrison or Chumlee, for example, they will stamp their signatures on those items. That’s was about it for the branding, which we found refreshing.

Yes these really are just regular guys who have struck it big.

“At the end of the day they’re still a business,” Poe says. “Their fame doesn’t get in the way of how they run the store,” and that applies to the eBay Store also. Customer service remains a priority as they try to get all items out within one to two days. So despite all their fame and success, the owners of the Gold and Silver Pawn Shop seem to run their eBay Store the way most experienced sellers do.

About the author

Brad & Debra Schepp
Brad and Debra Schepp are the authors of 20 books, including eBay PowerSeller Secrets and The Official Success Guide: Insider Tips and Strategies for Sourcing Products from the World's Largest B2B Marketplace. Their most recent book is How to Find a Job on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Google+. Brad is also a literary agent for Waterside Productions. For further information, visit the couple's website, Opinions expressed here may not be shared by The Online Seller and/or its principals.

  • Hoosier Daddy

    I bought a used Makita drill on Amazon, and it turned out to be from the Detroit pawnshop featured on the TV show Hardcore Pawn. I hate that show because it is clearly so fake….but the drill was a pretty good deal. 😉

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