We are coming up on Season Seven, episode four for History Channel’s show American Restoration. This will be the first season without Vegas resident Rick Dale and his gang from Rick’s Restoration.
So the other day I had a few minutes to kill while in downtown Las Vegas, I decided to pop over and see what’s new with Rick and the gang. Apparently, Rick and the show’s producers parted ways at the end of last season, just as he was moving his business (again) to a larger location to handle all the crowds. This time, the new place is just north of downtown Las Vegas.
According to Rick’s Facebook page, it was his idea to end his participation in the show because filming the show was just too much of a distraction and creating interruptions in his “real” business (Coke machine restorations). Yea, ok… That’s why he moved to a larger location with a large gift shop, which was for the restoration side of the business. Not because of the show’s fan base visiting? After walking around the place and taking the “lite” $10 shop tour (they offer two tours of the facilities), I would have to say that he designed the new location because the show was the “real” business. Maybe it’s semantics or the chicken and the egg question.
Unlike the old location, it’s not too difficult to find. Just a few blocks north of Downtown Las Vegas. Just look for the crowd of homeless people and their shopping carts waiting for the nearby shelters to open, you will see a side street. At the end of that street is Rick’s Restoration!
It’s actually in a great visual location. You can see it from the two freeways that cross right next to it. Great for marketing! Plenty of free parking in his lot. I was warmly greeted by a burly man who was more than happy to give me a dime tour. Pointing out all the things you probably have seen on the show (a statement that is often repeated by anyone working there. “You remember seeing that on the show, right?”). After the parking lot tour, I was left to wander the gift shop on my own.
Rick’s Flea Market?
What’s new here is that he had space to open “Rick’s Rusty Lane” a vintage store, flea market, and antique store. Basically, it’s an extension of the gift shop. Filled with mostly stuff Rick or family members are selling. Rusted antiques, automobile mementos and the like. There looked to be one or maybe two other vendors in there, just not there in person. It’s worth a peek and it’s free to look. Hopefully, more shops will follow if he gets on another show.
The parking lot tour and the Rusty Lane walk-thru are the only real freebies here. Walk into the gift shop and you are surrounded by Ricks’s Restoration merchandise. Not faulting him for that. This is Vegas and we do like to market anything and everything here as “World Famous”. Since this used to be a big TV show, it’s expected, almost required to have a shop filled with branded merchandise. Just try looking in the Pawn Stars store and see how much of the store is a pawn shop and how much of it is a retail center.
So we have the tours, the merchandise and the flea market. Is that all? Oh Hell no…. You can also buy reproductions of some of the items featured on the show. Priced as if they were the real thing. Not sure if the signed photos of Rick and family are free with purchase or if you would still have to buy those separately.
He is a Vegas Hustler
For as much grief as I give him for being such a crappy person to a friend of mine, I applaud him for being a Las Vegas hustler type of a guy. And I do mean that in the most positive way. Vegas was founded on people like Dale who hustle, sell, and promote themselves and their ideas. He took some chances, beefed up his persona, and made a run for it to be on TV. He was able to take a few isolated appearances on the mega-hit Pawn Stars and turn those into a six-year cash cow for him and the family. Nothing wrong with that! That’s what made Las Vegas and America great!
The new location is very well monetized. So it doesn’t matter if you love the show or hate the show, he knows you are there because of the show and he has something to sell you while you are there. And the longer I was there, the more people showed up. almost a steady flow of cars coming in and going out.
The Lite Tour
They offer two tours. The “lite tour” and the boneyard tour. The lite shop tour is where you are told there was a very slim to no chance to see anyone famous from the show (even with Dale walking around). Whereas on the private “boneyard tour” for $50 for a group of up to six people, you had a “really good” chance of seeing someone from the show. Not promising, but you did you have a chance of meeting television royalty on it. On the lite tour, there are no photographs allowed, but on the boneyard tour, you can take as many photos as your little camera can handle!
I opted for the lite tour. It’s $10 unless you are military or a local, then it’s free (score!). You are escorted through a shop door and into a walled room in the middle of the shop. Windows on three sides give you a chance to look in and follow the process of restoration while your guide is showing you photos of popular items and famous people on the walls between the windows while informing us that “You must have seen this on the show”. The tour takes about ten minutes. Want to see some of the items they have restored or are in process of restoring? That would require the boneyard tour.
Rick’s Restoration – The Show
So here’s the question; You are the star of a popular TV show. You set up the new location as if it was Universal Studios with a backlot tour and gift shop. Then you stop being part of the show because you say it disrupts your “real” business. Really? That’s the story? Some of the online newsfeeds have hinted that he was “talking” with another production company from another network to do another show just like American Restoration. I would hope so.
The shelf life for a faded reality tv star these days is very short-lived and this restoration business is set up as a reality show with a tour. Not the other way around. So I would say he really needs another show to keep it all flowing right and to keep the tourist dollars coming in the door.
For a typically slow Monday, he did alright from what I saw the thirty minutes I was there. Plenty of Rick’s Restoration and American Restoration videos, t-shirts, bumper stickers, and postcards being sold. There was a nice pile of orders next to the color printer for a $25 autographed photo of you with Rick. FYI: he shows up at 2:30 to stand and pose for you, so says a sign on the wall! The photos come with free shipping! So to keep all those fans happy and coming back, he really needs to stay on TV.
Based on what I read online, especially Facebook and seen from the comments left on my original post; Bad, Bad American Restoration, Rick has a large legion of loving fans as well as a good-sized legion of haters (you’re not famous if everyone loves you!). Now both groups have ganged up on the History Channel and are venting their frustration at them for keeping American Restoration but replacing Rick and his gang as the stars of the show. They want Rick back to love or to hate!
I may be jaded, ok, I am really jaded…. but if you are a fan of his show or just a fan of Las Vegas reality TV, this is the place you need to come and pay your respects then buy a T-shirt or take a tour before going back home. He’s open 9-5 most days!
- Las Vegas Reality Show Tour
- Rick’s Restoration website
- American Restoration on Amazon
- Rick’s Rusty Lane on Facebook
Update: 11/11/2020: Ricks Restoration, as well as the show, all seem to be offline, not operating, in hiatus. No news on what Rick Dale is doing nowadays.