By GUY D’ASTOLFO
It used to be that going to a pawn shop was something you did only out of necessity and was certainly nothing to brag about.
But with the success of shows such as “Hardcore Pawn,” times have changed.
Ask Rich Pyle of the truTV series. “It’s now cool to go to the pawn shop,” he said. “People love to get deals and save money, and with the success of the show and others like it, the pawn shop has been brought into the mainstream.”
Pyle has worked for 25 years at American Jewelry and Loan, the Detroit pawn shop run by Leslie “Les” Gold where “Hardcore Pawn” is filmed.
This Saturday, he’ll come to the Youngstown area to visit Austintown Pawn, 3700 Mahoning Ave., one of the region’s largest pawn shops, as part of his promotional tour.
He’ll be in-store from 1 to 4 p.m. to greet customers and take photos with them, appraise objects, and probably close a deal or two.
“I’ll be coming around to see my kind of people,” he said in a phone interview from Detroit on Thursday afternoon. “They know me and the things I do, the things I can teach them, and I get to meet ... I hate to use the word ‘fans,’ I’m not that kind of guy ... my new friends.”
Pyle, who also plays drums in Detroit rock band SuperLast, has a special expertise in musical instruments and autographed memorabilia. Folks often bring their treasured items to him in hopes of discovering that they are worth a lot of money.
Pyle is also a deal-closer, and probably won’t be able to resist jumping into one Saturday. “I can’t walk away from a deal in progress,” he said. “I’ll see it and try to close it myself.”
It’s an urging that has come back to bite him at times. His eagerness to close a sale and get someone a good deal has left his store on the short end more than once. It’s a trait he can live with, he said.
Austintown Pawn — passersby know it for the giant statue of a horse rearing up on its roof — has been in business for more than 10 years.
Robert Carney, president of the family-owned shop, said he can relate to “Hardcore Pawn.” His store, he claims, holds the largest pawn inventory in Northeast Ohio.
When he heard that Pyle was mounting a tour of pawn shops, Carney extended an invitation for him to visit.
Austintown Pawn will open at 9:30 a.m. Saturday. Folks who stop by will have the opportunity to win a movie basket that includes a DVD player and an array of DVDs.
All items on display, except jewelry, will be discounted 20 percent from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, to coincide with Pyle’s visit.
Visitors can bring a camera for photos, or buy a poster of Pyle for him to sign.
“Hardcore Pawn” airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m.