Mark Gray
June 13, 2011 12:00 PM

Las Vegas’s hottest tourist destination has a line wrapping around the block, but they aren’t queuing up to see a headline act on the Strip. These fans have flocked downtown to the Gold and Silver Pawn Shop, home to History’s hit reality series Pawn Stars. “I remember when we’d get excited that we had 70 people in the store a day,” says Corey Harrison, son of the store’s co-owner Rick and one of Pawn’s four Stars. “Now we’re, like, ‘We only did 2,000 people?'”

Two years after its debut, Pawn Stars is cable’s top-rated show, with more than 6 million viewers tuning in weekly to see the latest oddities people try to pawn at the family-run shop: a book from Sir Isaac Newton’s library, a piece of marble from inside Abraham Lincoln’s tomb or a military missile’s guidance system. “We’ve got a lot of weird stuff,” says Rick, who opened the shop with his father, Richard, in 1988 and found a niche for unusual items that their corporate-owned competition had no use for. “That’s our business model, and it works for us.”

It also proved irresistible to History execs, who picked up the show (Rick says he pitched it “for years”) in 2009. “I figured we’d go a season or two, pump up business a little bit,” Rick says with a laugh, surveying the crowd. “But this is crazy!”

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