5/9/2013 9:28:00 AM It's All About Business for TV's New Reality Stars: Small Business Owners
NEW YORK (AP) — There’s no business like small business.
Mix the high stakes of running a small business with a dash of family drama and throw in a camera crew and you get hit reality television shows such as “Pawn Stars,” “Welcome to Sweetie Pie’s” and “Duck Dynasty.”
Turning small business owners into stars has become a winning formula for television producers, but some businesses featured in them are cashing in, too. Sales explode after just a few episodes air, transforming these nearly unknown small businesses into household names. In addition to earning a salary from starring in the shows, some small business owners are benefiting financially from opening gift shops that sell souvenirs or getting involved in other ventures that spawn from their new-found fame.
Below is a sampling of reality TV shows that feature small businesses and the average number of people that are watching. The numbers are from Nielsen, which provides information and insight into what consumers watch and buy, and are an average of the show’s most recent or current season.
Viewers: 8.3 million
“Duck Dynasty” revolves around the Robertson family as they hunt, camp and make duck calls for Duck Commander, the West Monroe, La.-based business that the family’s bearded patriarch Phil Robertson founded in 1972. The shows season 3 finale was the most watched program in A&E’s history.
Viewers: 4.9 million
Cameras follow people as they bring in everything from gold coins to classic cars to pawn or sell at Las Vegas’ Gold & Silver Pawn Shop on this History reality show. Viewers watch as owner Rick Harrison, his father, son and an employee tell customers how much their stuff is worth.
Viewers: 3.8 million
Mike Wolfe and business partner Frank Fritz drive around the country looking for antiques and collectibles to buy and then resell at their store Antique Archeology. The show has aired on History since 2010.
Viewers: 2.7 million
Danny Koker restores and sells classic cars in his Las Vegas-based garage, Count’s Kustoms. “Counting Cars” is a spinoff of History’s “Pawn Stars,” where Koker made several appearances before getting his own show on the network.
Viewers: 2.4 million
TruTV’s answer to “Pawn Stars” focuses on American Jewelry and Loan, a family-owned pawn shop in Detroit. “Hardcore Pawn” has been on the air since 2010.
“BLACK INK CREW”
Viewers: 1.6 million
Debuting earlier this year, this VH1 reality takes viewers inside the lives of tattoo artists from Black Ink Tattoo Studio in New York’s Harlem neighborhood.
Viewers: 1.6 million
“Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” star Lisa Vanderpump lets cameras into Sur, her West Hollywood, Calif. restaurant, to document the salacious lives of the restaurant’s employees. Bravo renewed the show for a second season.
Style’s “Jerseylicious” gives viewers a peek into the lives and drama of employees that work at The Gatsby Salon, in Green Brook, N.J.,
“WELCOME TO SWEETIE PIE’S” in St. Louis
The show, which airs on OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network, follows Robbie Montgomery as she and her son run two restaurants in St. Louis and work to open a third. A fourth season of “Welcome To Sweetie Pie’s” is currently being filmed.
Owner Robbie Montgomery says fans come to her restaurants featured in the show and liken her to their own grandmothers.
Montgomery has been filmed scolding her nephew when he shows up late for work. In another episode, she pushes her grandson to get better grades in school.
The show has brought more people to her restaurants. “There was a line around the block after the third or fourth episode,” says Montgomery. Sales have jumped 70 percent at the restaurants, which serve Southern dishes such as pork steak smothered in gravy and candied yams. It debuted in 2011. A fourth season began filming in March.
Montgomery began selling $20 T-shirts in the restaurants after the show started. The shirts feature Montgomery’s quotes from the show.
One of the quotes could serve as advice for small businesses wanting to get into reality TV.
“If it don’t make money,” the shirt reads, “it don’t make sense.”