Tonight I happened to catch an episode of the new TLC reality series “Pawn Queens” about a pawn shop outside Chicago that is owned by two women and two men. The show focuses on the female partners in the business and the fact that they buy and sell “girl stuff” in the shop – not just the usual guns, electronics and other “big boy toys” that most other pawn shops specialize in. Among the items they purchased in this episode were a light-up wedding dress, a baby stroller that converts to a bicycle, and a vintage ponytail Barbie doll.
The owner of the Barbie doll said that it was “an original 1959” doll and asked for $4,500. Only a #1 Barbie would be worth that kind of money, because she was only made for a few months. The doll was obviously NOT a #1, #2 or even #3 Barbie, and had a massive case of green ear. Worth a couple hundred bucks, tops. One of the pawn shop ladies agreed that it was an “authentic” doll, and stunned me by countering with an offer of $3,000! I was yelling at the TV by this point.
Now came the drama. One of the male co-owners pulled one of the women aside and informed her that they didn’t have $3,000 on hand. She had to swallow her pride and ask the Barbie owner to come back in a few hours after they scraped up some cash. I was hoping for their sakes that they woman had second thoughts about selling her “valuable” doll and didn’t come back. Alas, she did return. One of the guys ran down to a gold buyer with some jewelry and got some money. I was still yelling at the TV, but Chicago being halfway across the country, they couldn’t hear me.
I can’t say this bodes well for either the series or the business. I am a huge fan of “Pawn Stars,” the History Channel show about a very successful family-run pawn shop in Las Vegas. While they make the occasional bad purchase on that show too, they routinely call in local experts to advise them on the authenticity and value of items that they don’t know enough about. The “Pawn Queens” better take a lesson, or they might end up having to hock their own jewelry to pay the bills.
The photo above shows what #1 or #2 Barbie should look like – notice her eyes are painted only in black and white. (Photo courtesy of Loving Dolls.) The doll in the photo below has blue eyes, like the one the “Pawn Queens” purchased. This doll is a #3 – but the doll on the show had a darker skin color, indicating it was a later model Barbie.