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Lessons Corey learned in pawn shop

Corey Harrison, host of Pawn Stars on History Channel: ‘If the deal is not right, just walk away.’

Lessons Corey learned in pawn shop

Leah C. Salterio (The Philippine Star) - August 16, 2017 - 4:00pm

MANILA, Philippines - He’s a third generation businessman who grew up in the well-known Harrison clan of the only family-owned pawn shop in the heart of Las Vegas. What Richard Corey “Big Hoss” Harrison didn’t foresee was that he would also become one of the popular reality TV personalities in the US.

Pawn Stars documents Corey’s work at the World Famous Gold and Silver Pawn Shop in Las Vegas. The show airs on the History Channel and also features Corey’s dad Rick Harrison and grandfather, Richard Benjamin Harrison.

For somebody who grew up in a family business, Corey knew even when he was younger, the job he would eventually get into. “It’s funny because from the time I was a kid, I knew what I was going to do,” said Corey, who was in Manila recently for History Con 2017. “What’s even funnier is that my dad and my grandfather didn’t want me to work at the pawn shop, but I was deadset on it.”

Corey learned the day-to-day operations at the pawn shop early on. “I was good with running the business with 30 employees before,” he recalled. “Now, we have 80 employees. I’m at the pawn shop once or twice a week to check things over. We have a new CEO.”

Corey has been the “boss” of the World Famous Gold and Silver Pawn Shop for a long time now. “Unless one popped up, we’re the only family-owned pawn shop in Las Vegas,” he bragged.

That gave him the sharp-eye skill to also spot a knock-off. “That gave me a keen sense to know what’s real or fake, what’s obscure or really historic. It’s trial and error. I failed a few times in spotting a fake, though.”

So far, the best lesson that Corey learned working in the pawn shop is to deal with people. “If the deal is not right, just walk away. You don’t have to take it, you don’t have to keep going, arguing or trying to find a middle ground. If you’re not comfortable with it, just go.”

Even in dealing with employees, Corey knows how to handle any situation. “When I fire, I just look at them and I say, ‘You’re fired.’ I don’t prolong it. I can do with mistakes, but I can’t deal with stupidity.” The latter is what disappoints Corey.

He has been exposed to the pawn shop business since he was nine. “It was a lot different when I was young,” Corey said. “It was a little rougher when I was a kid than it is now. Times have changed. People need money. They don’t like to hear ‘no’ for an answer.”

One of the biggest things viewers learn from their show is how to look for quality. “You look for the way something is built. You see a Prada bag and you look at the stitching at the back. If it’s a fake one, then they make it really cheap. If it’s a real Prada bag and I will look at it, I will count every single stitch and make sure they are exact distance apart.”

Though he has been the boss of their pawn shop for a long time, Corey attested he and his dad still get at odds at times. “We argue a lot, but there is Corey’s way in. The worst thing that we argue about was lunch orders. (Laughs) I learn a lot from my dad and my grandpa, but I do things in a completely different way. They taught me how to run the business.”

He and his dad did get into some heated arguments, especially ones when Corey had no control over. The biggest of which was when his old man bought a pair of diamond earrings while they were actually taping an episode. “On camera, the earrings were sold to us for $40,000,” Corey recalled. “That was a huge fight.”

After over 500 episodes later, Corey attributes the success of Pawn Stars to the continuous strong patronage of viewers, “The reason the show has been so successful, everybody has that one thing that might be worth the money,” Corey noted. “It could be something they bought in a garage sale or grandma left them with. Parents also like the show because we train the kids into learning history.”

Asked about his contribution to the longevity of the show, Corey honestly said, “There has to be the bad guy, the villain, the kind of mean one. For a lovable guy, you have my dad. For the super smart guy, everybody loves the old man. I’ve fired quite a few, but I’ve never had an employee quit on me. They love their jobs.”

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