I have really gotten into Pawn Stars on History Channel.

Long before banks, ATMS and check-cashing services, there were pawn shops. Pawning was the leading form of consumer credit in the United States until the 1950s, and pawn shops are still helping everyday people make ends meet. Pawn Stars takes you inside the colorful world of the pawn business. At the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop on the outskirts of Las Vegas, three generations of the Harrison family–grandfather Richard, son Rick and grandson Corey–jointly run the family business, and there’s clashing and camaraderie every step of the way. The three men use their sharp eyes and skills to assess the value of items from the commonplace to the truly historic, including a 16th-century samurai sword, a Super Bowl ring, a Picasso painting and a 17th-century stay of execution. It’s up to them to determine what’s real and what’s fake, as they reveal the often surprising answer to the questions on everyone’s mind, “What’s the story behind it”? and “What’s it worth?”

Its a great show, each episode captures 4 of 5 transactions between the store’s owners and someone who either needs to sell an item or pawn an item (Note: To Pawn is to get a loan against the item and if you don’t get back to the store with the cash + Interest then the store keeps the item).   Since the show is on the History Channel they mostly focus on those items which have something to do with history, or if an item is weird and unusual.  The show completely ignores the darker side of the business which has to exist considering this is a very busy shop in the outskirts of Las Vegas.

As I watched about 2 hours of the show recently (fine it was really like 4.5 hours but don’t judge me) all I could think about how much this show can teach people about business and making money.

What Can a Pawn Shop Reality Show Teach You About Money and Life?

Buy Low Sell High

For every item that comes in the works in the shop need to buy it lower than the market value so they can sell it at market and make a profit.  Simple, yet very difficult for most people! The moment they over-pay for an item the shop loses money.

Value is Different than Worth

Remember when I asked would you rather have stuff that had a high sense of worth to you or stuff that was more valuable?  Well the shop has to deal with this every single day.  Just because your stuff means a lot to you doesn’t mean they have a high monetary value.

Know What you Don’t Know

Socrates once said,

ἓν οἶδα ὅτι οὐδὲν οἶδα hen oída hoti oudén oída

Which loosely translates to,

The only real wisdom is knowing you know nothing

Don’t be afraid to ask for help, there is nothing wrong with going to an expert.  In almost every episode the shop’s owner says he has to call an expert because he just doesn’t know everything about everything.

Always Negotiate

There is almost always room to negotiate.  The owners of the shop are almost ruthless in their negotiations, it is almost uncomfortable watch sometimes.  They are probably worse when the cameras aren’t running.

Ever watch the show? Hate it or Love it?