Pawn Stars better than The Strip in Vegas
Pawn Stars better than The Strip in Vegas

A drab looking pawnshop in the heart of Las Vegas is now a white hot tourist destination because of the reality TV series Pawn Stars.

Each day international and local fans flock to the World Famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop to catch the colourful characters behind the family run business.

Calling the shots are co-owners Rick Harrison and his pessimistic father Richard "Old Man" Harrison.

Rick's towering son Corey, aka Big Hoss, and Corey's goofball mate from high school and cult hero employee Austin Russell, better known as Chumlee, are the stars.

Pawn Stars, now in its seventh season, details the shops purchases, mainly collectables and antiques, from random customers and the history behind each item.

It also captures the camaraderie and, at times, fiery clashes when deals go bad, between the main characters.

The series is one of most popular reality shows on US subscription television and it airs in Australia on Foxtel's A&E channel and the Seven Network's 7Mate.

Pawn Stars' success has stunned Rick who told AAP his initial aim was to get a series up and running for a couple of seasons to promote the store locally.

"We were basically hoping for a season or two to help out business a little," Rick said.

"We never thought it would come to this."

The Harrisons and Russell are now television celebrities in the US.

While it's primarily a pawn shop they are supposed to be running, the series and the store is more collectable and memorabilia based.

Rick's not too disturbed about the fact most people walking through the doors of his relatively small store are there to stalk the show's stars.

"We've gone from basically 100 a people a day to 5000 a day, so we are trying to reflect what best serves our customer base now," Rick said.

"We still do pawn and buy and sell stuff, we do a lot of T-shirts.

"We're here almost all of the time."

With cameras flashing on a constant basis in the store, it's forced changes in the way they now deal with customers, says Corey.

"We have to run the store from the back now. If I'm here trying to sell someone a watch, it's hard with 25 people snapping photos of me while I do it.

"Otherwise the customer I am trying to help doesn't get served like they should do."

Vegas being Vegas, Corey said he is constantly offered fake Rolex watches to buy and usually the person selling it has just bought it for a bargain.

"We see at least one fake Rolex a day and that's the sad thing, people are buying this stuff assuming that it's real," Corey said.

"They've got taken by someone then try and come and take me with it."

Once chastised by his father for being grossly overweight and offered fitness sessions, Corey has slimmed down.

He has shed more than 60kg following lap band (gastric banding) surgery in 2010 and he explained why his weight fluctuates so often on the series which first aired in 2009.

"We don't get to pick what is coming into the shop and one day I might have three guitars coming in," Corey said.

"You don't want to do an entire episode on three guitars so you try and mix and match the scenes in each episode.

"That's why some episodes I weigh 400 pounds (181kg) and in others I look 250 pounds (113kg)."

The West Australian

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