There are so many things I love about the trading card industry, but more than anything else, it’s the colorful characters we come in contact with that leave the most memorable impressions. Back in the glory days, I don’t think there were many characters more interesting or fun to watch than Shop at Home Network’s Don West. Before there was Vince Offer (the ShamWow! Guy), there was Don West. I can remember being up late on a Saturday night and he came across my television screen like a tornado. It was almost as if he had spent the previous three or four hours before the show slamming espressos locked in a basement watching MTV’s Headbanger’s Ball.
Even though I had been collecting for most of my life and then moved on to work for Upper Deck, West was such a great salesman that he frequently had me with the phone in hand, wondering if this really was the steal of a lifetime. I’m sure I wasn’t alone. We did have some dealings with him at Upper Deck, but I never met him. And now I understand has now moved on to serve as a commentator for Total Nonstop Action Wrestling.
The other night someone sent me a YouTube video of West’s old show for a chuckle, and it brought back all those wonderful memories of those can’t-miss specials he would pitch. He had a tendency to operate under the premise that EVERYTHING he had was limited and EVERYONE was buying it. While he usually wasn’t precise about how great an “investment” he was hawking, there is no doubt the show was entertaining. Check out some of these old clips showing West in his prime with his on-screen partner Eddie Lewis.
So just how big an impact did West have? If imitation is really the sincerest form of flattery, then he had a pretty big impact. Check out Will Ferrell, Chris Kattan and someone I can’t quite make out playing “Ronnie” doing their best impression of the Shop at Home show on “Saturday Night Live.”
Who was that playing Ronnie? That’s right, Iron Man himself, Robert Downey Jr.
Thanks for the entertainment, Don. I’m sorry I never made that late-night purchase, but I’m sure plenty of others did. So, who out there bought the Shaq Plaque?