For fans of the Las Vegas-based reality show “Pawn Stars“, you know of the spin-off called “American Restoration.” It’s about the egotistical owner (Rick Dale) who tries to restore clients busted or broken memorabilia back to near new condition for what seems like outrageous prices. I’m figuring the clients willingly pay the price hoping for their chance at 15 minutes of fame on the show.
In one case, the client did not need the 15 minutes of fame, he has enough of his own. Instead, the client just wanted what the show’s star was promising: A sentimental piece of memorabilia to be restored to working order. Only to be taken to the cleaners and causing anxiety for those who know the whole story.
Ripping Off Angel
Last August, while I was on tour, stopping in Seligman, Arizona to say hello to my friend Angel Delgadillo (Angel of Route 66), I encountered Rick Dale and his American Restoration crew setting up to shoot an episode.
Rick, being the smart business man that he appears to be, saw an opportunity. His producers convinced Angel to shut his memorabilia shop down for one hour to shoot a scene. It was at the height of tourism season, but Angel agreed anyway. He is always accommodating and helpful to anyone who asks. The one hour shoot lasted over four hours!
Angel is 85 years young and the famous store used to serve as his pool hall and barbershop. In the corner sat a 1950’s style Jukebox that had a bad restoration attempt earlier in its life. Angel wanted it restored to working condition. To light up and play all the old favorites for his international guests as they entered the store. Rick said he could do it. Not a problem. For $4,000 (plus whatever business Angel lost while shooting the now popular episode).
Almost two months later, the jukebox was returned, looking pretty sharp and classy, but not functioning properly. Angel was still smiling to his guests as they looked it over. But since it isn’t working, it once again, sits in a corner, unplugged, gathering dust as before.
Almost a year later, the $4,000 check has been cashed and Rick has yet to do anything to get the jukebox working as he promised or to even return the phone calls and letters asking (politely) for some remediation in this situation.
If Angel wanted the chrome polished and the plastic cover cleaned I’m sure he could have had one of his kids do it for less than $4,000. He simply wants to see it play again as promised. So do the fans of Rick’s show and fans of Angel who pour into his store each day from all over the world.
To Rick’s good fortune, Angel is a peace-loving man and when asked about the jukebox does not mention the fact that Rick’s Restoration has done him wrong. He could really do a PR number on Rick and the show but he stays quiet about it.
Rick could do the honorable thing and fulfill his obligation to Angel. Fix the jukebox or return some of the money he was paid then let Angel promote the fact that Rick did indeed stick to his word and get it playing again just as Angel expected of him when they shook hands.
It’s Marketing, Stupid
If for nothing else but the marketing aspect, you would think Rick would have done this project for free or at least a heavy discount. Angel doesn’t need the PR, American Restoration needs the publicity. And Angel could have provided him with plenty of it if he had just kept to his word.
You would have thunk that the History Channel, the network airing American Restoration, would have wanted this issue settled or not to even be an issue, but an opportunity to promote the show and the network with a great tie-in to two American icons, Route 66 and Angel, but instead, he screwed up and missed the bigger picture in his chase for the quick buck, fast score.
A lost opportunity for all involved.
This opinion post was written by me for general information. Yes, I am pissed at all that happened here. Angel and his family are business friends of mine. My tours often stop at his store and I do make money from that stop. My guests love the unexpected side stop, meeting Angel and stepping foot on historic Route 66. In return, my tips increase.
More importantly, as a friend to Angel and his family as well as a business, I would like to see the old jukebox working again, as would the 1000’s of people from all over the world who stop in at Angel’s Route 66 Gift Shop every day. That particular episode is often played and Rick is making the money from it. He could do the right thing and fix what he promised while making it a great PR story that he seems to crave.
In return, I am sure Angel would be happy and would be kind enough to pass the word on about the nice man behind the jukebox restoration while he lets them drop a nickel in the slot and hear an American music classic play. I also know a few other tour professionals who would as well!