One of Glenn’s favorite TV shows is Pawn Stars, and this morning on radio, he interviewed one of the stars of the show, Rick Harrison. There is no question that Rick is a tough negotiator, but Glenn respects his fairness. Rick explained his business philosophy and revealed some of the incredible government bureaucracy his company has endured.
Full Transcript of interview is below:
GLENN: We are ‑‑ it’s Friday and we’re going to take a different tack today. We’re going to talk about, I think if I had to name my favorite show on television and I watch such little television, I mean really I don’t think I ever get a chance to watch a full episode of anything, my favorite show on television has to be Pawn Stars. I was a fan of Antiques Road Show but that was like, I don’t know, I felt I had to wear an ascot and be in a robe.
PAT: Oh, this is so much better than Antiques Road Show.
GLENN: Yeah, but it’s the same ‑‑ it’s the same thing. They bring in really cool stuff and you get to see really cool stuff, but this one has an attitude to it.
GLENN: And it’s like for regular people. But the stuff that they show and the things that you see on the show are just fantastic.
PAT: What I like about it is Rick is a brutal negotiator. Somebody will come in and they will tell you their thing is worth, you know, “This is the original flag that George Washington rode into battle with against the British at Yorktown.” Really? Okay. Uh, what do you want for it? What do you want to do with it?
GLENN: I want to sell it.
PAT: What do you want?
PAT: Not gonna happen. I’ll give you $12.
GLENN: Usually gets it for 11.
PAT: Yes. And they wind up, you know, and you see them interviewed before they go in and, “I’m not gonna take a Penny under $194,000.” “I’ll give you $15.” “Okay.”
GLENN: And I love the people who don’t sell. It’s usually the crap you wouldn’t want to buy anyway because the crap ‑‑ and they’re like, “I wouldn’t take it. I’m not going to be insulted by him saying that it was a complete fake.” It says ‑‑ it’s the Declaration of Independence and it says made in China on the back.
We have Rick Harrison on the phone. Hi, Rick, how are ya?
HARRISON: I’m doing great this morning.
GLENN: Good to talk to you. I’m just such a huge fan and I actually, we spoke off the air, I don’t know, a few weeks ago and I said to you ‑‑ because I watch your show and I’m like, man, I want to develop a relationship with Rick because I want to know when you get stuff like that in there, I want to be on your call list because we’re putting together a museum and I want to know if you’re getting really cool, unique stuff. But mainly the stuff, Rick, that most people, you know, you would never see it in a museum because people are like, “Oh, that’s just, that’s silly, that’s…” and I’ve seen a couple of things where I’m like, this is one of the coolest pieces of history I’ve ever seen.
HARRISON: I actually think I bought probably the coolest thing I ever bought since I’ve had the pawn shop a couple of weeks ago actually. It was a ‑‑ it was a contemporary copy. General Lee from the South, his father was George Washington’s main general during the Whiskey Rebellion, and George Washington wrote him a letter. You would ‑‑ once you see the episode, you will be amazed. He basically wrote him a letter saying “These are the powers of the government. You know, I have to go to Washington. I have to do everything in the government. These are the powers that should be the army, this should be the powers of civil court,” and this general, you know, thought it was so important that he made a contemporary copy. It’s not the actual copy by George Washington. That would be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. But this was ‑‑ he thought the letter was so important, that he made a copy for himself and put it in his own records.
GLENN: So ‑‑
HARRISON: So it’s a pretty amazing letter.
GLENN: So Rick ‑‑
HARRISON: I’ll send you a copy of it.
GLENN: I’d love to ‑‑ I’d love to see it. You have to come out here sometime. I know you’re really super busy because you do more than that show. You also ‑‑ how many shows do you ‑‑ how many shows are you responsible for now on TV?
HARRISON: I work on, like, three other shows, I’m producing some other shows. Was going to ‑‑ was going to produce another show but the ‑‑ the BLM decided because of sequester I couldn’t pay the government for a filming permit on government land, which is insane to me, but ‑‑
GLENN: Oh, my gosh.
HARRISON: That’s another story.
GLENN: Would you mind telling the story, Rick, about ‑‑ speaking about a control government, of your expansion? Are you willing to tell that story about your expansion of your business?
HARRISON: Well, it’s everything. You know, I go to ‑‑ you know, over the years, you know, this show has just kept on getting bigger and bigger and bigger, more and more customers. I need to expand my showroom. Luckily I wanted to tear down a wall, okay? Because right behind that wall I had warehouse space to turn into the showroom. $400,000 to tear down a wall.
HARRISON: I mean, these are the things I run into. Put a new sign out in front of my building. 6 bucks.
PAT: To put a sign in front of the building?
HARRISON: Oh, yeah, because ‑‑
PAT: Is that for the permit process and all that nonsense?
HARRISON: The permit process and everything and they come back, well, you’re on a scenic byway, you’re in a historical district, you need to go in front of 20 different committees.
HARRISON: And, you know, “Oh, we’re going to have to change your sign here, change your sign here, change your sign here.” And it just never ends. I mean ‑‑
GLENN: When did we go wrong, Rick? When did we go wrong? When do you think we started going wrong?
HARRISON: Because every legislature and every congress thinks, oh, we need more laws, we need more laws, we need more laws. And it just comes to a point where it just grinds business to a standstill.
I wanted to produce a show in Southern California. It was on government land. It’s a ‑‑ it was about off‑roading and stuff like that. People off‑road there every day. I went, you know, and ‑‑ you know, even a small reality show employs 100 people.
HARRISON: The BLM comes back and says, “No, we can’t issue a film permit because of the sequester.” So I said, “Let me get this straight. I’m going to pay you $250 a day to film and…”
GLENN: You can’t ‑‑
HARRISON: “‑‑ you can’t do it because of budget cuts?”
HARRISON: He mean, this is what we deal with nowadays.
GLENN: I mean, you’re in Nevada which, jeez, man, you have legalized prostitution. You would think that Nevada would be ‑‑ would be okay to work in. Is Nevada okay?
HARRISON: Nevada’s better than most states. I have a lot of friends that make very good money. They’re just packing up out of California and leaving. They cannot deal with it anymore.
GLENN: I know.
HARRISON: You know, I said, yeah, come on up. Help our economy out.
GLENN: I know.
HARRISON: I mean, it’s government in general. I mean, all the way from ‑‑ where I was filming the television show was Southern California, but it was on federal land. But it’s government on every level, you know. It’s business, it’s the EPA. The EPA would rather, you know, close down a factory in the United States that puts out some air pollution, okay? They would rather close that down and have the same factory open in China with ten times the air pollution. It’s all the same air we breathe. There’s no sense to it all.
GLENN: Do you ‑‑ I was in Washington D.C. this week and for the first time I saw a difference in the capitol police. I mean, we’ve always been friends with the police. We have ‑‑ I have good relationships. We do fundraisers for the police and the sheriffs and everybody else, and we have always ‑‑ I believe in a good strong police department. Rat the bad guys out. Don’t punish all the police. Rat the bad guys out and get them off the force. And when I was in Washington, between the permits and the way the Department of Homeland Security and the capitol police treated people and even looked at the people that were standing there for the Constitution, I’ve never seen anything like it. And now when you start to say, “I don’t know if I can trust the police” or “I don’t know if I can trust the judicial system,” I mean, you’re in a different world, man.
HARRISON: Umm, it’s all the bureaucracy. I mean, I have a close family member that something really bad happened to her. I’ll even say his name. He’s pleaded guilty to forceable sexual abuse in Utah. And this guy was charged four years ago; hasn’t spent a day in jail because of all the bureaucracy.
GLENN: Wait. Wait a minute, wait. He pleaded guilty to forced sexual abuse, he pleaded guilty?
GLENN: And he hasn’t ‑‑ he hasn’t spent a day in jail yet? Four years?
HARRISON: No, because he ‑‑ because he asked to have his psychosexual evaluation before they can sentence him.
GLENN: Oh, dear God.
HARRISON: And that was in February. They’re saying it’s now delayed until September. And mind you, he doesn’t have to register as a sex offender until he’s sentenced.
GLENN: Where in Utah is this happening? Who’s the judge? Who’s the judge? Where is it?
HARRISON: Okay, the judge is St. George, Utah. It’s southern Utah. Wallace A. Lee. He literally let this person ‑‑ you know, I mean, you would think once he pled guilty, okay, we’re going to remand you to custody until ‑‑
HARRISON: You know, until you’re sentenced. So ‑‑
GLENN: Is Wallace A. Lee, is that the judge or is that the ‑‑
HARRISON: That’s the judge. The ‑‑ well, I was going to call him ‑‑ we’re on the radio. I’m sorry. I almost said something else.
GLENN: Well, no. He pleaded guilty to sexual ‑‑ what was it, sexual assault, sexual ‑‑
HARRISON: Felony sexual abuse. This was a plea bargain, by the way.
GLENN: Felony sexual abuse?
HARRISON: There was over seven felony assault charges against him and, you know, his name is Richard Burdette. The ‑‑ and I’m on the phone the other day to the prosecutor and I’m going, “What is the problem here?” And they go, “Well, they need this psychosexual evaluation to see if he’s going to reoffend.”
GLENN: The guy plead ‑‑ the guy pleaded guilty!
HARRISON: He pleaded guilty and they want him to talk to a psychologist to see if he’s going to reoffend. You really think he’s going to tell the psychologist the truth?
PAT: I mean, he’s create sexual assault but he’s not a liar, you know? These guys draw the line somewhere.
HARRISON: This is what you’re dealing with where we have to ‑‑
GLENN: So hang on just a second. I’m trying to understand. This is ‑‑ what’s the judge’s name again?
HARRISON: Wallace A. Lee.
GLENN: Wallace A. Lee. So you’re telling me that the judge in St. George, Utah, Wallace A. Lee, is actually saying, “Well, before I give him his penalty, I want to make sure that he ‑‑ that he’s already learned his lesson.” He’s learned his lesson? You haven’t even punished him yet. He’s learning ‑‑ he is learning. Hey, judge, he is learning a lesson here. You’re teaching him a very important lesson. So he’s ‑‑ I’m going to listen to him, we want to talk to him, we want to make sure the psychiatrists talk to him to see if he’s learned his lesson before we’ve given him any punishment at all. So then, what, he’ll lessen the sentence? Is that the idea?
HARRISON: I have no idea. And you know we ‑‑ you know he’s not going to go to a psychologist and say, you know, “I like having sex with children.” “No, I’m all better.” It’s the insanity of our legal system. You know, a DUI is a very, very bad thing and I think those people should be punished, but he would have spent more time in jail if he got a DUI.
HARRISON: And there’s other things too. I mean, you have young kids who do something stupid and you give them a ‑‑ you give them a record for the rest of their life, as opposed to what we used to do is, “Hey, put the kid in the military; he’ll be all right.” That’s what they ended up doing to my dad and he ended up being a great person to society. So every ‑‑
GLENN: I don’t think your dad likes you too much, though. I see your dad.
HARRISON: My dad is the greatest guy in the world.
GLENN: No, he really is. He really is.
HARRISON: He gets up ‑‑ even if there is nothing for him to do at work, he is there at 6:30 in the morning with a suit on.
GLENN: You know what’s really great, what I love about it is you guys work hard, you’re honest, you don’t ‑‑ you’re not cheating anybody. I’ve never seen anything where you’re trying to get the leg up on a deal. And you’re straight up with people. That’s why, you know, Pat said you’re brutal at negotiating. No, you’re just honest: Dude, this is what it’s worth; I have to resell it.
PAT: Well, and you’ve got to make money.
GLENN: I have to make money.
PAT: Have to make money.
GLENN: That’s all it is.
GLENN: And you win because of the two lessons I’ve learned from very wealthy people: One, never get emotionally attached to anything. You don’t want ‑‑ you don’t need it, you don’t want it that much; don’t get emotionally attached to something. It’s just something ‑‑ something else will come along. And the second thing is, is just be straight‑up honest and be willing to walk away. Never bluff. Be willing to walk away from the table. How is that a ‑‑
HARRISON: Well, I mean ‑‑ yeah, I’ve always told ‑‑ I mean, I’ve told people this in a million interviews and people I know: The deal’s not right, the deal’s not right.
HARRISON: Just plain and simple it’s not. And, you know, I own a small business and I ‑‑ well, the government considers me a medium business now.
HARRISON: And I’ve been in business for over 25 years and I really truly believe in that whole six degrees of separation you’re honest and good to your employees, good to your customers, it’s good for business.
GLENN: I tell you, Rick, I would really, I would really love ‑‑ I’m coming out to Vegas I think next week, I think we’re doing ‑‑
PAT: Next Friday I think we’re doing it.
GLENN: I’m doing some stuff with the people ‑‑ I don’t know if you’ve ever heard fly‑by Foy but they are the people who do all the fly‑by wire stuff for Cirque du Soleil.
GLENN: And they are working on a show with me, Man in the Moon, and I have to, they have to tear it all ‑‑
HARRISON: Are you going to start doing back flips in the air and stuff like that?
GLENN: You’d be surprised what you’re going to see.
PAT: Oh, he’s limber ‑‑ limber.
GLENN: Before they break it down, I have to go see it myself in Vegas before they ship it out. And so I’m going to be in town. I’d love to stop by and shake your hand and just stroll through your ‑‑ stroll through your place. But I’m not bringing my wallet.
GLENN: I’m not bringing my wallet.
HARRISON: Well, come by and maybe I’ll bring you to lunch.
GLENN: All right, man. Thank you. Rick, I appreciate it. Keep up the good work. You guys are doing a great, great job. And let us know what happens. Let us know what happens with Judge Lee and the dirtbag.
HARRISON: I will. Talk to you later.
GLENN: Thank you very much. Appreciate it.