A new reality for Rick Dale of ‘American Restoration’

At his North Las Vegas shop, Rick Dale turns garbage into gold.
Photo: Steve Marcus

Early last year, local antiques restorer Rick Dale had had enough. Sure, he had tremendous talent in junk-to-treasure makeovers, but the collectibles market was foundering. The line at the bottom of his bank statement had two digits and zero commas. “I was at my lowest,” Dale says. “I wanted to give up; I just wanted to quit.”


Rick's Restorations
American Restoration
Eight new episodes premiere in 2011; first four available on iTunes.

Then something incredible happened. Just like the detritus he transforms into near-art, Dale transformed his career into cable-ready entertainment. The love and support of a good woman led to his appearing regularly on the hit reality show Pawn Stars, beautifying the shop owners’ potentially valuable but ugly antiques—gas pumps, vintage motorcycles, old vending machines. Such are Dale’s gifts that a running joke emerged on the show: Rick can turn shit into gold.

Now Dale, 51, has his own show on the History channel, American Restoration, that has helped bring a ratings Renaissance to the network. Four half-hour shows have aired, eight more have been filmed, and History says it’s the network’s second-best series launch ever. Dale’s restoration business has increased tenfold, with calls and emails flooding in from across the country.

Visit Dale and his girlfriend and business manager, Kelly Mayer, and they’ll tell you first that they’re humbled by it all—the fans who approach them at Walmart and the teenage boys who idolize Rick. Rather than let it go to their heads, they’re quietly expanding their business with an eye toward retirement. They’re still most satisfied, they say, when a customer’s eyes light up at the sight of a memory preserved. After all, fame and top-rated shows are fleeting, but beautiful things last forever.


John P. McDonnall

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