Pawn Stars 'very nice'

The dynamic father-and-son duo of hit reality TV series Pawn Stars’ Corey Harrison (left) and his father Rick Harrison with Nam Cheong Pawnshop owner Michael Seow (centre).

It wasn't a visit from a sexy porn star that made Mr Michael Seow a happy man.

Instead, it was the dynamic father-and-son duo of hit reality TV series Pawn Stars who turned up at his store yesterday afternoon.

Rick Harrison, 48, and his son Corey, 29, wanted to take a peek at a Singapore pawn shop. So they went to Mr Seow's Nam Cheong Pawnshop on South Bridge Road. The shop is usually closed on Sundays, but he opened it specially for them.

The visit was part of their Pawn Stars Asian Tour and camera crew were also present. The tour has already taken them to Tokyo and Manila. They will move on to Kuala Lumpur and Delhi this week.

Airing every Monday at 10pm on History (StarHub Ch 401), Pawn Stars chronicles the daily activities at the World Famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop in Las Vegas, Nevada, a family business opened in 1989 and operated by the Harrisons.

It depicts the staff interaction with customers, who bring a variety of artefacts to sell or pawn and haggle over their price and discuss their historical background.

Mr Seow, who declined to reveal his age, told The New Paper: "I've watched the show many times before and it's a great show, especially for me, because I learn how they value the different items that come in and how they run a pawn shop business in the US."

He added about the private meeting: "They are quite big-sized and look quite fierce, but they are very nice people."

The American stars of the show seemed surprised at the size and layout of Nam Cheong Pawnshop.

It is comparable in size to a one-room HDB flat while the World Famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop showroom measures at least 15,000 sq ft and attracts around 1,000 customers daily.

Rick Harrison, who is also known as The Spotter for his good eye in picking out big-ticket items that are fake or stolen, said: "I am actually shocked at how small the shop is. It's really hard to do business like that, I feel."

Like a typically home-grown pawn shop, the Chinatown outlet - which has been around since 1950 - features an L-shaped glass counter and prominent thick metal "jail-like" bars from the ceiling all the way down to a foot above the counter top.

This leaves just enough room between the barricade and the counter to execute dealings.

'Really odd'

Corey said: "I just found it really odd (to have thick bars in the store), considering that there is almost zero crime in Singapore.

"I could understand if the store was placed in a bad neighbourhood in the Philippines, but in Singapore? Not so much.

"The other thing is that it seems almost counter-intuitive. For example, if he is behind the bars and I asked to see something, he would probably hand it to me to have a look.

"But if I bolted out of the shop, he has to run around the bars before he can come catch me."

He chuckled, while his dad burst into laughter.

"And if I couldn't have a closer look or feel of the item, then why would I buy it?"

Besides their stopover at Nam Cheong, the Harrisons also jumped into trishaws after visiting the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum and the Mei Heong Yuen Dessert shop, before having lunch at Chinese restaurant Min Jiang at Rochester Park.

The pair then headed for a fan meet at The Star Vista, where 1,000 fans eagerly awaited their arrival.

So far, they haven't found anything from Asia worth taking back to the US. In Manila, there was something that they considered, before deciding against buying.

Rick recalled: "I saw a few coins in the Philippines that I was really interested in and would be worth about US$40,000 (S$51,160). The guy at the store wanted to sell it for US$10,000.

"It just seemed too good to be true. I was sceptical about how real the coins were."

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