Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Pawning it Hardcore: That's Pawn, You Gutter Minds

If you think you have a tough job, you should try wrestling over a fur coat or getting threatened with bodily harm through a tiny plastic window.

I’m talking about the good, but totally insane, folks at Hardcore Pawn, my new-to-me favorite show. It’s new to me because I just found this gem on On Demand. But it’s in its third season already, so maybe you already know about it?

I’ve had a fascination with pawn shops forever. Now I don’t want this to turn into a Basketball Wives “Oh my God, Jennifer has never seen a food stamp" thing. I’m not some privileged snob who has never fallen on tough times. I’ve just honestly never had anything I thought I could pawn.

But, see, apparently you can pawn ANYYYYTHING. In the time I’ve watched this show, people have pawned and sold skulls, gold teeth, and even a prosthetic leg (that he was WEARING INTO THE SHOP! Like, he just left on crutches minus one leg so he could pay some bills).

So what I learned is that pawning means you can get it back. It’s like getting a loan on your crap so you can pay the credit card bill you probably used to buy said crap. If you don’t pay back the loan, they can sell your crap. And you’re crap out of luck, although this particular pawn shop in Detroit is slightly more lenient than I imagine most.

You can also choose to sell your items outright. Which then they re-sell, almost always at a higher cost. Which is what really kills me. People go in there either having no clue what something is worth and get wayyy underbid, or they go in with their fake Chanel purses and demand $300. It’s called the INTERNET, PEOPLE! Take five seconds to look it up on eBay so you don’t get hosed or embarrass yourself. Those aren’t mutually exclusive, by the way.

Ok, so naturally a big part of the reality show is the people, right? This is a family-owned business, started by Les Gold. I refuse to believe that’s his real name, but we’ll move on. He’s hoping to pass it on, he says, to his son, Seth Gold, and his daughter Ashley Broad.

Les Gold: Source TruTV

Only I have some serious doubts about Ashley getting her hands on any of this. Despite TLC’s upcoming show, Pawn Queens, I’m convinced pawn shops are the height of misogyny. There are almost no other female workers featured in this shop other than Ashley. And every time Ashley screws up (which is kind of a lot, I’ll confess), Seth and Les are right there to tell her that since she went off and had a couple of kids (how DARE she, that selfish cow), things have changed in the pawn world.

Seth Gold: Source TruTV

Ashley Broad: Source TruTV

Um, really? REALLY? Far as I can tell people who need money for Lord knows what enter this store, get up in someone’s face, get half of what they want and need, and leave unhappy. How has three years changed this gig?

Now, in fairness, Ashley doesn’t exactly have her MBA in salesmanship. She’s the first one to get in a customer’s face when they’re late and Les wants her to make a deal with them. She also gets very snotty when she asks what the person wants for something and the person gives a price she thinks is outrageous. Her little nose turns up and she gets this very combative stance.

It’s not exactly the type of ‘tude you want in an already volatile transaction.

But a lot of the time she’s right in her thought train, it just don’t make it to the station without a few bumps in the road.

Only half the time, Seth and Les derail it completely and take over, leaving her looking stupid. You can just see the resentment building and quite frankly, if anyone was in my store pawning a gun, I’d make sure Ashley didn’t know about it if I was Les.

But at least Ashley isn’t smarmy and smug like her super closeted brother Seth. That dude’s gaydar reading is OFF.THE.CHARTS.

Perhaps he just resents his sister’s ability to spawn children when he, himself, wishes he had a womb. I’m not sure, but his hatred of his sister is of the hair-pulling “Mom, she’s touching my part of the seat” variety.

While I think Ashley has legit beef with her brother, his constant undermining is just pointless and petty. We rarely see him sell unless he’s making a bet with Ashley, or jumping in on her sale because, excuse you, he’s the expert on jewelry and entertainment and everything other than masking his latent homosexuality.

Then there are the customers. I’m not sure why the customers allow themselves to be filmed, but at least once an episode there’s someone who is SHOCKED.THAT.THEIR.CRAP.ISN’T.WORTH.MILLIONS and downright insulted at the offer Les levies their way. More than half the time it escalates to where security has to drag them out.

Half those times involve someone whose feet don’t touch the ground on the way out. Those are my favorite parts. Judge me as you see fit.

Also, of course, there are some sad stories. This person or that died and left them something sentimental, and now they have to sell said sentimental something to make rent.

One couple almost sold Les on their hard-luck newly married just trying to make their way in the world story until the dude admitted he was a gambling addict.

But, look, Les does occasionally try to help a few people out in the pawn department, playing the hooker with a heart of gold role very nicely as he sympathetically nods and says he’s so sorry about their tough times, while giving them roughly a third of what something is worth.

Anyway, if you have TRU TV, you can check out the current episodes. And if you have Comcast On Demand, you can check out the first season there.

So now, tell me. Have you ever pawned anything or been to a pawn shop? I think I’m planning a trip to replace my poor stolen GPS.


Sparkling said...

Never been to a pawn shop and I don't know where we have one around here. I am sure it's under some name that doesn't sound like pawn, because that's how we roll here, but I've never been in one. I don't like to take the time to go through other people's crap even if it is super cheap. I just don't have time to waste on things like that. I'd rather be blogging. I dont' know how you can watch that crap. i will watch some stuff but that pawn stuff and all of the things that involve white trash smokers coming in and begging for money just make me turn the channel.

Small Town Mommy said...

I have never been to a pawn shop either. I think they are more of a big city thing. I have never seen the show either but I will have to see if we get it here.

Anonymous said...

I got my clarinet at a pawn shop - it was wood and French, so this was a good thing. If things pan out right, we'll probably take the cash from our wedding and check out antique and pawn shops to see if we can find a sterling pattern we like out in the wild.

I really need to start cruising my On Demand for new stuff. This? Is a freakin' treasure. I don't want to say it's better than the Duggars because that's a whole different ball game, but WOW.

Stephanie in Suburbia said...

Ok, Tenaciously, you have much to teach me, you little Yoda you. Do you just like cruise pawn shops or are there favorites?

Anonymous said...

I have never pawned anything (does Ebay count?) but the inner workings of a pawn shop is absolutely fascinating to me.

The truth is though, that I kind of agree with Sparkling...I just don't have it in me to search through other people's stuff. I'm lazy. Hence why I overpay for things far too often. But mindless TV is the best, and this sounds pretty interesting to me!

Amanda @ It's Blogworthy said...

OK, I havent' seen this one but my husband really likes Pawn Stars on the history channel (or maybe it's Discovery?) It's the same kind of crap (literally and figuratively). I love when somebody brings in their rusted old wheelbarrow and then are like, what do you mean its' worth nothing!? Delusional much?

LambAround said...

I always want to go into pawn shops, but Sexy Nerd thinks we'll get jumped the moment we set foot in the store. He's a bit of a worrier!