Business Lessons From ‘Pawn Stars’

Watch the hit History Channel show “Pawn Stars” and you may learn a little about history, be entertained by the family dynamics or—if you pay attention—recognize these keys to business success:

  • Call in experts. With more than 20 years of experience, pawn shop owner Rick Harrison is pretty good at spotting fakes and valuable antiques. But he still relies on a group of specialists to learn more about items before he decides whether to buy them. Cultivate a panel of experts you can rely on, whether those are colleagues in your own organization or outside advisers. A brief conversation can keep you from making a costly mistake.
  • Know your limits. The pawn shop employees weigh each purchase by what they can afford to pay while still making a profit, how easily they can find a buyer and how much available space they have in their shop. Having guidelines like those makes business decisions easier, particularly when emotions are prodding you to do something else. The “Pawn Stars” occasionally give in to temptation and purchase an item they really want to have, but it’s always a calculated risk.
  • Respect the relationship. Even when they don’t make a deal, the pawn shop staff members regularly end conversations with a handshake and comments such as “Thanks for bringing it in” and “Sorry we couldn’t do business.” Harrison even surprised his employee Chumlee on a recent episode by accepting a seller’s first offer on a short-wave radio. Harrison recognized that it was a reasonable offer, and he knows that the reputation of his business is worth more than squeezing a few more dollars from one transaction. During negotiations always think beyond the one deal.

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