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Las Vegas business stars in movies, TV

Maybe when your business is selling movie props to directors, producers and movie stars, it’s inevitable that a little bit of Hollywood fairy dust might rub off.

That has been the case for Las Vegas business owner Mark Allen, who owns Western Stage Props, 3945 W. Reno Ave., a business specializing in the sale of western movie props and lessons in cowboy skill sets.

Allen, who moved to Las Vegas from New York 20 years ago, has been a western stage performer since age 18 and has been featured on the History Channel mega-hit “Pawn Stars” seven times in the last year.

“They were seeking expertise on a number of items,” he said. “I was the obvious choice.”

Pawn shop owner Rick Harrison said he has known Allen for a number of years and said his friend’s store has a lot of cool stuff.

“He’s (Allen) a really neat guy,” he said.

Allen was able to help determine that a whip brought in by a man trying to sell it to the pawn shop was not actually used in the “Indiana Jones” movies.

“I know because we supplied the whips for that movie,” he said. “I know the work of individual whip makers, so it was pretty easy.”

Allen said he has enjoyed his time in the spotlight but didn’t necessarily seek it out.

“I think it’s a by product of what we do,” he said. “If you see a whip in a movie, or any Western prop for that matter, it most likely came from us. This is a niche market, and there’s no competition.”

Allen said the “Pawn Stars” people originally approached him because of his knowledge of Western memorabilia in general.

“I know a lot,” he said. “That’s not bragging.”

Allen said his store has sold whips that were featured in both Zorro movies, “The Bourne Identity” and on television programs such as “NCIS.”

The store has the largest inventory of whips in the world, he said, and features a museum.

Still, as glamorous as all the Hollywood connections might be, Allen said the store’s bread and butter comes from average folks who have become collectors and are interested in learning Western arts such as trick roping, whip cracking, knife throwing and gun spinning.

Lessons cost between $25 and $50 per hour.

Allen said picking up these unique skills isn’t the hard part. It’s mastering them, which can take up to a year.

“I started working on a ranch in upstate New York when I was 6,” he said. “Those old cowboys are the ones who taught me this stuff. I know what I’m doing. People think a lot of it looks easy, but it can take a while to really own the skill once you’ve learned it. I should know. I’ve been doing this a long time.”

When asked why he hasn’t moved the store to Los Angeles, Allen said Las Vegas has a more business-friendly environment.

“Plus, we get people from all over the world who come to our city,” he said. “Many come to see our store because there’s nothing else like it out there. I see it as we are helping to promote a positive image for Las Vegas.”

Contact Southwest and Spring Valley View reporter Amanda Llewellyn at allewellyn@viewnews.com or 380-4535.

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