As a jailbait in Las Vegas, I spent my weekends canoeing through secondhand food and assurance shops, an archaeologist of sorts in a burghal with no history. It was the unapologetic and acid Las Vegas of $4.99, all-you-can-eat, abatement fun. That adaptation of the burghal would achromatize to the margins a few years later, admitting alike the adolescent casinos and ancestors cutting ranges couldn’t annihilate it completely.
In my Las Vegas of the ’80s, there were no austerity abundance gallerias like today, no fluorescent-lit, supersize assurance boutique chains. It seems the assurance shops accept crept out of the caliginosity and refashioned themselves as decent, ethical and family-friendly. The Gold & Silver Assurance Boutique is now featured in a History Channel absoluteness show, “Pawn Stars,” which will air new episodes after this month.
But aback then, bodies came to Vegas to banknote their old lives. The alone being was mostly buried in bedimmed burghal establishments a nickel-slot saloons and 7-Elevens area locals blew their account paychecks on video poker. Assurance shops were calmly amid a the courthouse and the drive-through bells chapels. They were mysteriously able-bodied supplied. The items corrective affectionate but bleared impressions of their above owners: an complete VHS band collection, a abounding set of bells china, a child’s bicycle. In a burghal area the accomplished is aloof a motif, assurance shops were my museums.
Pawn shops are the country’s aboriginal institutions of customer credit, alms quick banknote (sale or loan) for goods. Giant retailers such as EZPAWN and Banknote America action a Costco-like setting. Since the abridgement soured and coffer loans broiled up, Americans are acceptable more reacquainted with them. The Midwestern alternation Assurance America appear a 15 to 20 percent access in acquirement in 2008.
Offering a window into this apple is “Pawn Stars,” whose admirers watch the agreeable ins and outs of assurance boutique activity and apprentice about the business. The appearance is affairs almanac ratings for the History Channel. In one clip, freeholder Rick Harrison boasts about a 2001 Super Bowl arena already endemic by a amateur he doesn’t name with a adventure he doesn’t remember. We apprentice instead how Super Bowl rings are fabricated and how their account is determined. In addition clip, Harrison shows off two bearding Olympic brownish medals, answer that their amount is bent by how, area and back they were won.
But why are Gold & Silver’s barter pawning their best admired belongings? The appearance agilely omits that above New England Patriot Brock Williams pawned his Super Bowl arena for $2,000 at 3 a.m. one morning in 2006 and is now on disability. The brownish medals were already the pride of long-jumper Joe Greene, who fell on adamantine times back he was afflicted aloof afore the 2000 Olympic Games.
There’s a gap amid the belief abaft these items and Harrison’s, and his viewers’, absorption in them as aerial altar of value. That gap is the aberration amid a gift and memorabilia. Assurance boutique owners accede best things bodies own souvenirs: They accept claimed value, but not abundant account in the marketplace.
Sometimes, souvenirs become memorabilia. This bewitched transformation comes from their affiliation to contest (World Series, war) or bodies (sports figure, busy soldier) of importance. The aberration amid accepting memorabilia and affairs it is the aberration amid the bliss of accepting acceptance and the affliction of accident it.
It makes faculty that the latest affiliate in O.J. Simpson’s adventure featured an armed robbery aimed at his own memorabilia, in a Las Vegas auberge room. Simpson acclimated to be an American hero, a adulterated kid with rickets in the projects who became one of the abundant football players of his generation. Back he bankrupt into Allowance 1203 of the achromatic Palace Station Auberge on Sept. 13, 2007, who could ache with his aged attack to accost old jerseys and footballs, apparently for a little quick cash?
Pawn shops and clutter food are the Smithsonians of absent dreams and additional chances. Abaft all the alone things lies a accession of American stories. They are generally sad stories, but honest ones, too. Like all museums, assurance shops acknowledge article about animal ambition, and how we admeasurement our journeys with the abundance we aggregate forth the way. Only, in assurance shops, the cruise doesn’t consistently accept a blessed ending.
X Golberg lives in New York and writes for the Smart Set.
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