Vegas Eater Exclusive: Rick Harrison Sets The Record Straight on Pawn Plaza
August 24, 2016 By Michael Kamber
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“I am a landlord. I want them to make money. Making money is my third or fourth favorite thing in the world.”

Rick Harrison wants to clear up some things about Pawn Plaza, his container park shopping center next to Gold & Silver Pawn Shop, where Pawn Stars is filmed.

Last year in October, the retail center opened with a bevy of tenants, including Rick’s Tavern, Rick’s Rollin’ Smoke, Smoke’s Poutinerie, Inna Gadda di Pizza, Pawn Donut & Coffee, Rita’s Water Ice and other several other non-dining establishments.

In the past week, Smoke’s Poutinerie shuttered, as did Inna Gadda di Pizza and Pawn Donut.

On Friday, a tenant “who wanted to remain anonymous for fear of backlash” talked to KTNV.

And some of the things he mentioned are inaccurate, according to Harrison and another tenant at the center.

“I’ve had a few people moving out,” Harrison tells Eater Vegas exclusively. “One guy was getting on the news and saying it was my fault. …There is no such thing as build it and they will come. There just isn’t.”

Harrison says that as many as 50 percent of new businesses don’t last through the first year.

“I’ve gone above and beyond for every tenant I’ve had,” Harrison says.

He says that in the KTNV interview, the anonymous tenant claimed there was a clause in the contract that said he would advertise for tenants. There wasn’t.

He says that the anonymous tenant claims he wasn’t showing up for bartending gigs promoted at Rick’s Tavern.

“I made every single one. I showed up, except when a plane didn’t show up,” he says.

“I am the landlord and I really tried to help promote them. In the end, you have to do your own marketing,” Harrison says. “When times are good, you advertise; when times are bad, you must advertise.”

Harrison estimates that he spent between $50,000 and $70,000 marketing Pawn Plaza between charitable events, public relations, promotions and more.

Some of the events held at Pawn Plaza over the past 10 months include a dine around with the media, a cab day in early 2016 that saw 400 drivers, a NASCAR weekend social media event supported by nine billboards and social media check ins, autographed photos of the Pawn Stars given to tenants at the shopping center to give away, a poker event benefiting epilepsy last October, a car show in the spring, Chumlee of Pawn Stars deejaying at Rick’s Rollin’ Smoke and hosting charity events, meet and greets and autograph signings with the stars of the show, Sen. Marco Rubio appearing at the grand opening, and comedy nights weekly at Rick’s Rollin’ Smoke.

“I feel sorry for him that his business isn’t doing well. Human nature is to blame others when your business isn’t running well,” Harrison says.

He also contends that there are no problems with the building as the anonymous tenant mentioned. “I dare you to find one problem with the building. I could have spent $50,000 less on the elevator. I didn’t. Forty thousand dollars less on the plumbing. I didn’t. We have a full-time maintenance person at the pawn shop and the shopping center, and anything can be fixed within an hour.

“I am a landlord. I want them to make money. Making money is my third or fourth favorite thing in the world,” Harrison says. “I mean, I thought ‘if I get a reality show, it would be good for business.’ I pitched it for four years, when everyone said no one would want a TV show about four fat guys.”

Cliff Evarts, the founder of Pawn Plaza Vow Renewals by Vegas Weddings, wants customers to know he’s still in business.

“We thought we would take advantage of the vow renewal business. It hasn’t taken off like we thought,” he says. Instead, he’s working on a new concept selling snacks such as popcorn, gummy bears and sodas to take over the space.

“Obviously, the whole concept of a retail outlet like this is to drive traffic,” Evarts says. “I was shocked that anybody would say those sorts of things about Rick even if their business plan isn’t working like he’d like. [Harrison has] one everything that he’s committed to do and more.”

Evarts has a mock-up of the pawn shop that couples can pose in front of for wedding photos, and Harrison even lets couples use the pawn shop after hours for weddings.

Harrison in the meantime has several new tenants interested in the space, but he will be doing some “extreme vetting.”

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