Channeling TV Hit’s Charm


The popular cable show “Pawn Stars” has done more than document the goings-on at a Las Vegas hock shop. It’s been drumming up business at L.A. collateral lenders.

The show, which has been a ratings hit for the History Channel since the third season started in June, focuses on the valuable historic oddities brought in for sale or hock – and the colorful characters who run the shop and authenticate the merchandise.

Oren Charisky, owner of West Hollywood pawnshop La Jolla Jewelry, said he can thank the show for inspiring customers to pawn items ranging from a Civil War musket to a pipe once owned by Hugh Hefner.

“We definitely see a positive influence on our business with ‘Pawn Stars,’” Charisky said. “Now we’re getting a clientele lately who has never been in a pawn shop. ‘Pawn Stars’ shows that pawn can be interesting and kind of fun.”

The program’s approachability has helped destigmatize pawn, according to Jordan Tabach-Bank, chief executive of Beverly Loan Co., a Beverly Hills shop, and spokesman for the Collateral Loan Second Hand Dealers Association, a national group that represents the industry’s interests.

The hobbyist bent of “Pawn Stars” counters a “nasty reputation,” he said.

“The show has made pawn a clean, safe environment to garner short-term credit,” he said. “I’m quite pleased with what the show has managed to do for the pawn industry. Pawn is no longer an ugly word; it’s relatively hip.”

But it’s retained some old-school flavor, too.

Charisky said that an elderly “Pawn Stars” fan came to his shop this month to pawn 100 Waterford crystal pieces.

“She never would have come in, except for the show. Now she’s looking for more stuff to bring in,” he said.

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