Chuck Brennan Claims Sunny Radio Used Threats and Fraud to Make Him Buy Station

Payday-loan shark Chuck Brennan was going to call his pawn shop radio station “Badlands Radio.” But now with his Badlands Pawn/tattoo parlor/gun range/Mad Max fantasy land classing up Russell Street, he’s calling his radio station “Guns Gold and Rock-n-Roll Radio.”

Branding master Brennan is breaking his brand with this unwieldy name because a Texas broadcaster already owns the domain name and didn’t want to share the “Badlands Radio” brand with Brennan.

This minor failure of branding figures centrally in Brennan’s response to and countersuit against Brandon-based Sunny Radio owner John Small.

Recall that Brennan signed a contract with Small to buy Sunny Radio for $1.5 million last February, then reneged and bought the University of Sioux Falls’ radio station in May. Small claimed about $520K of the $750K in earnest money that Brennan placed in escrow; Small then sued Brennan in July for breach of contract and demanded the remainder of the earnest money (currently frozen in a Sioux Falls Federal Credit Union account), plus another $750K and additional damages.

In a response and counterclaim filed October 29, Brennan argues that his Asset Purchase Agreement (APA) with Small to acquire Sunny Radio’s AM and FM Sioux Falls stations was voided by Small’s misrepresentations. Specifically:

In executing the APA and Escrow Agreement, Badlands relied on Small’s representations regarding other offers and his statements about the value of his stations, and his previous assurances that Badlands could use the “Badlands Radio” name and obtain the domain name. If Small had not made these representations and threats to sell what Small had characterized as the only locally-available station that could meet Badlands’s needs to someone else, Badlands would not have executed the APA or Escrow Agreement [Answer, Counterclaim, and Crossclaim of Badlands Airtime, LLC, and Charles C. Brennan, Cup O’Dirt LLC v. Badlands Airtime, LLC; Charles C. Brennan; and Sioux Falls Federal Credit Union, 49CIV15-001949, Minnehaha County, 2015.10.29].

Serial entrepreneur and business titan Brennan claims that one small-town radio owner duped and threatened him into signing a $1.5-million contract. If you buy that, I’ve got a radio station in Fruitdale I’d like to sell you.

Brennan claims that he “knew John Small… for many years and thought he could trust him” [Brennan Answer and Counterclaim, 2015.10.29, parag. 6]. In his Plaintiff’s Reply of November 12, Small says he was merely “acquainted” with Brennan “from one interview on KZOY, through advertising done by Brennan’s payday loan business, a few emails and attendance a few public events before discussions of the KZOY purchase began” [parag. 4].

Whatever level of trust Brennan had in Small, he has no grounds for expecting Small to deliver the Badlands Radio brand and domain name. The thin ground on which Brennan bases this claim appears to be one October 8, 2014, e-mail from Small to Brennan, which Brennan helpfully provides to the court in a September 28, 2015, affidavit:

John Small to Chuck Brennan, e-mail, 2014.10.08; from Brennan Affidavit, Exhibit A, 49CIV15-001949, 2015.09.28, p. 1
John Small to Chuck Brennan, e-mail, 2014.10.08; from Brennan Affidavit, Exhibit A, 49CIV15-001949, 2015.09.28, p. 1

“I think the company that has would sell it for the right price,” Small tells Brennan. Small notes that it’s not his place to try negotiating with the owner of that domain name. The February 2015 contract agrees on Small’s role: the APA does not require Small to make any effort to acquire the Badlands Radio domain name or brand or anything else.

But on April 27, 2015 (a week after the FCC approved the Sunny Radio license transfer and Small, per the APA, transferred some of the earnest money from escrow to his account), Brennan goes ape on Small when Tom Imber, owner of Badlands Radio in Texas, e-mails Brennan that he doesn’t want to share (key word) his valuable brand and domain name:

Tom Imber to Chuck Brennan, email, 2015.04.27, in Chuck Brennan Affidavit, 2015.09.28, Exhibit A, p. 2.
Tom Imber to Chuck Brennan, email, 2015.04.27, in Chuck Brennan Affidavit, 2015.09.28, Exhibit A, p. 2.
Tom Imber to Chuck Brennan, email, 2015.04.27, in Chuck Brennan Affidavit, 2015.09.28, Exhibit A, p. 3.
Tom Imber to Chuck Brennan, email, 2015.04.27, in Chuck Brennan Affidavit, 2015.09.28, Exhibit A, p. 3.

What Brennan portrays as a door slammed shut sounds more like and invitation to come in and talk turkey. Imber doesn’t want to share his property with an imminent competitor in the global market of online streaming (note Imber’s statement that AM/FM radio is “history”). He talks up the value of his property, then says, “All of this has really made us think and although we have never thought of selling the Badlands Radio brand, we will consider it.”

Imber’s April 2015 e-mail confirms Small’s October 2014 supposition: the guy who owns may sell the name for the right price. Imber offers to talk turkey, but Brennan chickens out and uses his inability to acquire “Badlands Radio” for free as an excuse to go buy a cheaper radio station and break his contract with Small.

Then we have the comic farce of a payday lender complaining that a businessman used high-pressure tactics to take advantage of his “strong desire” to make a deal.

Recall that Brennan offered Small $1.5 million for Sunny Radio in October 2014. In February 2015, Brennan tried to negotiate a lower price. Small stuck to his guns: $1.5 million or hit the bricks. Let’s review the February 17, 2015, e-mail exchange, again illuminatingly provided to the court by Brennan in a supplemental affidavit on October 2, 2015:

Small to Brennan 20150217
Small to Brennan 2015.02.17 a.m.
Brennan to Small 20150217
Brennan to Small 2015.02.17
Small to Brennan 20150217 pm
Small to Brennan 20150217 p.m.

Brennan makes four statements to Small in his February 17 e-mail that undermine his case against small.

  1. “1.5mm is nothing to me and the money is there.” If $1.5 million is nothing to Brennan, then he surely could have found a similar negligible amount to buy from the Texas owner.
  2. “There is no other buyer and the station is overpriced.” Brennan says here he doesn’t believe Small’s “threats.” Yet in his counterclaim, Brennan says those threats compelled him to sign the APA the next day.
  3. “…it is My fault for not doing my homework more and just relying on your word that everything will just be smooth as silk.” Brennan says here that he knows he shouldn’t just trust the other party in a contract negotiation but should do his own homework (that sounds more like the entrepreneurial titan Brennan says he is outside of court).
  4. “This… is a nice to have for us, not a must have.” The antecedentless this leaves me guessing, but the context suggests this deal. Brennan here indicates that threats should have no effect, that he could walk away from this deal and pursue other options.

Brennan says in his October 2 supplemental affidavit [parag. 7] that he and Small were both “posturing,” but words on the record have meaning. As Small states in his November 12 reply, “the Badlands defendants were fully aware of the risks, actual facts or other circumstances through their own investigations, expert consultants, reports provided by COD or expressly stated their disbelief of matters they attribute to COD….” Small dismissed the allegation that Brennan would not have bought Sunny Radio if he had known he was the only possible buyer as “so inherently ill-premised as to be its own insuperable bar.” That’s splendid lawyerspeak for, “What a load of crap!”

None of Chuck Brennan’s arguments will get him a better name for his pawn-shop radio station. The arguments presented in his counterclaim seem to have little more chance of winning him any money back from John Small.

Brennan and Small next square off in Minnehaha County court in a motions hearing before Judge Mark E. Salter on Tuesday, December 15, 2015, at 9 a.m.

58 Responses to Chuck Brennan Claims Sunny Radio Used Threats and Fraud to Make Him Buy Station

  1. The more accurate and appropriate “Badlends Radio” is available. Cory, do you want to buy it and sell it to Chuck?

  2. mike from iowa

    Doubt if he wanted his dirty laundry aired in public for all to see and mock. I’d guess it would make any normal person feel humbled,but then I’d prolly be proven wrong by a boatload of wingnuts.

  3. Steve Hickey

    What a pig – $1.5 mil means nothing to him. Meanwhile people caught in his debt traps bleed and suffocate this Christmas season. But, I must be careful lest I face “the mother of all defamation lawsuits.”

  4. Wade Brandis

    Wayne Heeren…. his name appeared in the documents above, and that reminded me of something.

    He currently holds an FM broadcast license in Wagner, SD on 100.9, with call letters KXIN. FCC records indicate that he filed for a Special Temporary Authority (STA) to remain off-air a few days after the construction permit expired on February 2nd 2015. Such STA’s only last about six months and the station either must file an extension to their STA or get on the air within the six months following expiration of the original STA. If they don’t, the FCC will cancel the license.

    I just went through Wagner last night, and there was nothing being broadcast on 100.9. Earlier this summer, there was no apparent construction at the indicated tower site, which appears to be located at someone’s farm.

    Wayne Heeren might not be directly related to the feud between Brennan and Small, but he was mentioned. Perhaps his non-functional Wagner station was considered for purchase at some stage for Brennan’s radio network, along with the permit for KZKK?

    Currently, Brennan does have aspirations to syndicate his pawn-radio network to other stations through affiliation agreements. Here is a link to their affiliates page. Check out the up front costs for potential affiliates.

  5. mike from iowa

    Radio/television market concentration brought to you by former incompetent FCC chairman Michael Powell (son of General Colin Powell and handpicked for the job by dumbass dubya).

  6. i read their affiliates page. 10k a month to air that on low powered repeater stations aint gonna happen. i also see they claim the morning show will be simulcast on kttw. looking at their website, there is no mention of the radio program, nor does it show up in the listings either.

  7. I bet you his customers for loans will be among the most ardent listeners of this radio station.

  8. KBAD is the best radio station I have ever heard. Used to listen to KRRO, but no more. Great variety on KBAD. Live DJs 24-7. Looks to me like Brennan’s counterclaim is a no go, but his radio station is going to take off. I can picture it going national. Don’t know what he’s going to do with his other radio station though. Maybe turn it into a hardcore rap station.

  9. Roger Cornelius

    Why would a prudent businessman like Brenan want to buy a domain name for $1.5 million when he could have easily found a new creative name that would cost him nothing?
    He probably didn’t have spend any cash for his new domain.

  10. Wade Brandis

    Scott, I think that Chuck is trying to attract large 50kw or 100kw watt stations to sign up for his network. There are several hard rock stations in SD… KWYR here in Winner, 94.1 KSDN Aberdeen, 95.1 KSQY in Rapid City, 104.5 KCCR Pierre, 94.3 KDAM Yankton, 93.3 KJRV Huron… and a few more. They all could potentially affiliate with GGRNR if they want to gamble 10k upfront and 5k for every month afterwards. I doubt KWYR will sign up as they are among the few true live and local radio stations left in the state. As for the others… only time will tell if they sign up with Chuck.

    I believe the simulcast of their morning show on KTTW is set to start sometime in January 2016 and it will only be two hours long. They also have plans for an infomercial called “Badlands Weekly”, a print magazine and several new TV shows all promoting this pawn-fortress, such as a game show and a “reality” show in the vein of Hardcore Pawn. Chuck is really trying to push his Badlands concept into people’s faces.

  11. Wow, what a cluster.

    1) It is normal and customary that execution of APA/Escrow Agreement is binding on both parties. Brennan must buy and Small must sell. Failure of one to do either is a breach.

    2) It was an Asset Purchase Agreement where the assets to be purchased are listed. If Brennan expected the “Badlands” brand to be included, it has to be listed. If Small represented he owned it, he breached but the email indicates otherwise. Thus, on the surface, the failure of Small to “deliver” an asset he didn’t own isn’t a breach on Small’s part.

    3) To the extent misrepresentations are relevant to allow one to renege, they must be material. Normally, the transaction would close, the asserted value of the misrepresentations is held-back in an escrow account pending resolution either in court, mediation, or arbitration. Normally, the APA would designate the manner of resolution and if silent would be done in court.

    4) While the court can compel Brennan to buy and Small to sell, the court is reticent to do so. Normally, they would wait until Small sells and award him damages if the amount is less than the contract and compensation for pain and suffering. Alternatively, the court might allow Small to get an appraisal and award him the difference plus pain and suffering.

  12. pain & suffering?

  13. hickey, i was saddened you voted against expansion of ACA. is not the “debt trap” a lot like the “death trap” daugaard’s political resistance has placeD 50,000 South Dakotan’s in?

  14. It’s all yours, El Rayo! You buy it, make the deal… and maybe cut me in for a 1% commission for putting you on the trail? :-)

  15. Dirty laundry, Mike? He’s the one who put his e-mail into the public record. I’m not convinced any of the documents he introduced strengthen his case. He perhaps should have stuck with saying that he never gave the credit union instruction to transfer the money out of escrow. Even that might be thin—when I review the APA, I see a “shall” that makes it sound like he was required by the contract to give those instructions upon receiving FCC consent for the radio license transfer. But it would have been better than introducing those e-mails into evidence.

  16. Steve, indeed, be careful—I hear the United Kingdom sets a lower bar for proving defamation.

    Then again, Steve, Brennan would still have to sue you here, right? Fire away (says the guy who’s not a lawyer)!

  17. Wade, thanks for that link! $10,000 a month to syndicate KBAD’s programming? Is that close to industry standard?

    And if AM/FM radio is history, as Tom Imber says, is any station going to pay that kind of money?

    Notice that KBAD says its target demographic is 35–54-year-old males. Is that where the money is?

  18. Rohr, I do appreciate that KBAD is offering live, local DJ’s 24-7. I have always preferred genuine local radio to the canned pop/celeb chatter of the stations beamed in over satellite. Even now, I find it much more enjoyable to listen to The Current from Minneapolis or CKUA-Edmonton online than to listen to any local station with satellite DJs, not just because the music is much better and more diverse, but because I enjoy hearing real people talk about the real communities in which they live, not faceless radioheads jabbering about plastic mass culture.

  19. Wade Brandis

    Oops… I didn’t see the last bit of the affiliation agreement. That is my mistake there.

    If affiliates wanted GGRNR before they launched on Thanksgiving, they would get a discount for $5,000. If they signed up after Thanksgiving, it’s $10,000 a month. It doesn’t say whether the $10,000 sign up fee is separate from the monthly fees. If it is, then that is a $20,000 upfront cost for any station that wants to distribute GGRNR. As for being industry standard, I wouldn’t know. I only know a bit about licensing and technical details thanks to sites like Northpine, which keep tabs on this kind of news. Perhaps I should send them a link to this article.

    I don’t think AM/FM radio will completely succumb to streaming media. It’s true that Pandora or Spotify can bring you personalized playlists and commercial free streams if you pay a monthly fee. But if Internet or cell service goes down, you can’t listen to those. In the Winner area, there are many businesses that have the radio on, usually on KWYR-FM or KPLO-FM, which carries a Country format. KWYR also has a dedicated streaming app for phones and tablets, along with an online listening option through your browser. Best part? They have an exclusive online-only stream called Rooster Country, focusing on current Country music.

  20. Wade Brandis

    I should also add that for FM/AM radio to be more competitive to streaming services, they need to diversify their playlists. The corporate-owned groups in Sioux Falls only seem limited to a specific set of songs and don’t really go into music that didn’t make it in the Billboard Top 100. Limited variety, more commercials, and too many DJs talking about pop culture than community events is probably why streaming services are becoming more popular. AM radio is mostly home to canned syndicated talk programming nowadays, with KWYR-AM in Winner being an exception. They play classic country music, but they are guilty of bringing in satellite-fed programming overnights and most of the weekends. They also appear to use two out-of-state voicetrackers for two daytime shifts on the FM station, Steve Goddard and Becky Lynn. Other than these shortcomings, he FM has no syndicated programs at all and both remain under local ownership. Why can’t they just bring Rooster Country to the AM dial, or get rid of the current satellite-fed country stream?

  21. 35-45 year old males have much of the money, but it’s the geezers where it’s really at and the geezers don’t listen to those rock and roll death metal songs and especially despise the rapping. Mr. Brennan is targeting his existing loan customers and the people who will throw money out at concerts and buying up used junk in his shop. He probably has a business plan but then so did young Dr. Boz.

  22. Leslie,

    I can’t remember the exact legal term. Its compensation for the loss of the benefit of selling and having to own what you entered into a contract to sell.

  23. Douglas Wiken

    All the hype about his operation strongly suggests it is an operation to avoid visiting or listening to his station.

  24. You are probably right, Mr. Wiken, however if you or others here do go I would hope they view everything with an objective eye and blog something here about it so those of us who cannot go can learn about this Disneyland-like place.

    Mr. H, perhaps you could go with your cameras and post some movies about everything there. As a documentary for Mr. Hickey who is out of the country and can’t go.

  25. Richard Schriever

    Godaddy currently has these domains available for 99 cents.

    and @ 3 for $10:

    In addition, with recent changes on the Internet Naming Conventions implemented by ICANN in 2008 – virtually anything can be used as a top-level domain name (the part to the far right of the name (such as .com, .net. .gov, and so on). So, if he wee technologically savvy, Mr. Brennan could own the domain name or even, which I’m pretty sure godaddy or some other naming authorities will gladly hook him up with.

  26. Just some guy

    I’ve been there.. The term “pawn shop” applies very loosely. Most pawn shops don’t have their own branded BBQ sauce, hats, shot glasses, T shirts, toys, leather jackets, etc, etc. Very little actual pawned merchandise, and what is there is very much overpriced. Anyone that drives any distance to go there will be supremely disappointed.

  27. Wade Brandis

    Just some guy: I looked at the reviews on the Badlands Pawn FB page, and it gets a 4 star rating. There are people singing praises about the pawn-fortress and their gun range, but there are a few people on there who also say the items are overpriced. One guy mentioned he saw an overpriced inkjet printer, and he bought one brand new for a lower price. Another reviewer mentioned that the owners were screaming at the employees in front of the customers. The pawn-fortress owners aren’t removing the bad reviews yet.

    If I ever went to Badlands Pawn, I would probably just try out their deli, operated by Cleaver’s Market. They really need to find a better name for it, since Cleaver’s Bad Deli is simply an unappetizing name IMO.

  28. that appears to be the business plan–all things schlock. surely there will be a payday title loan booth. does this”BBQ Pit ” have location, location, location???

  29. Hickey, you’re right, “1.5mm is nothing to me” tells you all you need to know about Brennan. By the way, everyone I know that works for him now calls him “MISTER Chuck Brennan.” I wonder if that’s in their employment agreements. Man, I hope this guy loses his big fat a## with this whole thing.

  30. I toured it last week. Lots of floor space for events, but not impressed with the sale items. Zero bargains. Prices are common for what you find at other pawn stores for guns and musical instruments, or from what you could buy online.

    The most unimpressive parts are the building exterior and accessibility. The outside looks like a very cheap rendering of a junkyard or, if you use your imagination, a Mad Max apocalyptic scene. The “art” you’ll find at the Okaton ghost town has far higher value. A lot of duffis types with long black rider coats and dressing up butch seem to be the prime clientele. There is no trouble spotting the eyesore from Russell Street, but try to find the entrance from Russell. You have to go several blocks west or east to find the service road taking you to the dump.

    I believe this structure portrays Brennan’s world view and his opinion about the people who frequent a joint like this and hang out there. It’s Hucksterville to sensible people, but some crackheads might want to call it home. I left shaking my head because having seen it, and glancing across Russell to the convention center and Sanford auditorium, I don’t know how in hell Brennan can logically compare this junk heap to those facilities and call it a tourism destination. Unless you’re a crackhead.

  31. has foghat and april wine sold out yet?

  32. 96…and scott: you should write for a living.

  33. Leslie – How about as a travelogue writer for Better Slums & Loan Sharkery?

  34. The pawn shop is a cool facility, but not much pawn merchandise yet except for a good selection of guitars and guns. They mint their own gold & silver 1 ounce coins but those are overpriced. The guns are marked at market price, but they may negotiate. Lots of stuff marketing the place itself: t-shirts, jackets, hats, etc. So not really a wide variety of stuff to buy unless you want a $25 t-shirt, which means most of the people who go there are just looking and not buying. I look forward to using the gun range, eating at the deli, and attending a concert there, but I haven’t done any of those things yet. I don’t imagine that the cash flow of the place is very good yet. I think Brennan should stop in at ABN Military surplus to see what they have then stock all of it and run them out of business. Prepper supplies are missing from the portable shelving of the post-apocalyptic place.

    The place does appear to attract Donald Trump for President types along with at least 1 duffis.

  35. With the Motley Crue concert across the street tonight, I predict that Motley Crue will give an after-concert performance at Badlands Pawn. Vince Neil has already been to Badlands, and I would be surprised if the band were not there tonight after the concert. Alice Cooper is also in town today at badlands Pawn and live on KBad radio. That place is going to be absolutely swamped tonight.

  36. Porter Lansing

    My favorite rock station in USA. From Fort Bragg, CA with local announcers and small town reports. KOZT plays the new songs from the old rock and rollers of the 60’s and 70’s.

  37. Rorschach,

    Is Badlands paying for plasma there too? Extraction area for tooth fillings, crowns, teeth bling grillz to pay cash for those metals?

    Sounds like it will really compliment the Sanford Center strip.

  38. Dan Peters

    It may be a small thing, but I think John Small’s cell phone number should be redacted in the parade of documents. Great article.

  39. Not yet, Lynn. But who knows? They could put in an abortion clinic, a cryonics lab, a rat rod building garage, a scientology worship center. The possibilities are endless. I wonder what the tattoo logo will be for the abortion clinic …

  40. duffis… 96, do you mean doofus?

    The post-apocalyptic theme… if it represents Brennan’s worldview, does it suggest the world that he (and those Trump types?) wish they lived in, a world in which civil authority has broken down and only the brutish and well-armed survive?

    In Mad Max, no darned pastors and baristas go circulating petitions to regulate your loan shark operation. You can mint your own coins, loan them out on your own terms, and shoot the people who default and sell their children. Ah, the simple life….

  41. Here is my long and deatiled personal review of the place:

    I went down to Badlands Pawn to see for myself what all of the hoopla was about. I can’t say as I was impressed.

    Their pawn shop really isn’t even a pawn shop. They have more new merchandise than they do used (or pawned items). Some of that may come in time, but their current selection and layout doesn’t appear to allocate additional floor space to actual pawned items. Their tool section consisted of a bunch of open box or returned items from manufacturers like Black & Decker and Stanley. No bargains there either.

    They had some gaming consoles which they didn’t even bother to wipe down to remove the dust and smeared slim-jim palm prints. A PS4 or Xbox-One was listed for $300 which is odd since I can run out and buy a new one today for the exact same amount which includes a game and full warranty.

    Their televisions looked to be priced at around 20% under full retail which again is questionable as I could probably find new televisions on sale with warranties for the same money. They had a handful of used printers and DVD players and some laptops all neatly displayed in glass cases but nothing stood out as impressive (and honestly nobody was looking at it and the employees seemed very bored).

    They had a lot of jewelry but much of it was new. They have a nice selection of luxury watches if that is your thing (a large selection of Rolex watches for instance) but the vast majority were new and listed for the same MSRP you’ll find in any jewelry store. They also “mint” their own Badlands silver and gold bars in-house which appear to be melted down and pressed from bar stock they have sent in. The prices of these are at market value which means no deals to be had. I assume they are anticipating people will want them as souvenir items.

    They had a rather large selection of designer handbags (Louis Vuitton etc.) which is something I would not expect to appeal to their target demographic. Most of the customers roaming around were the type sporting leather jackets or t-shirts with NRA slogans on them so designer bags might be a tough sale. I also saw more facial piercings per square foot than I have ever seen anywhere outside of a Hot Topic store. Clearly Brennan nailed his target audience of those who are known to make poor life decisions and found a way to concentrate most of what these people would want including gambling, pawn shops, guns, tattoos, rock and roll, and black clothing. The only thing missing is an outdoor smoke shack and a lounge that steams NASCAR 24/7.

    Their music section was fairly large and they have a lot of guitars but most of them appear to be shown for eye-candy rather than them having any interest in selling them (many are so high up the wall you couldn’t reach them and their have a huge rack on the second floor that customers cannot even approach). I’m not a musician, but from what I witnessed and overheard there weren’t any bargains, and the employee I briefly spoke with openly admitted he didn’t know how to read music nor could be play the guitar beyond a few chords so real musicians probably aren’t going to flock to the place if the employees don’t know what they are selling and can’t offer advice.

    Half of their sales floor is devoted to Badlands branded merchandise. You can find playing cards, t-shirts, hats, flasks, guitar picks, and even ammunition. Most of it seems overpriced to me, but then again people buy much of the same crap at Wall Drug so maybe it will sell.

    I did see someone getting a 8″ diameter Badlands Pawn tattoo on their back so I suppose that is something, but why anyone would do that is beyond me. I’m guessing that tattoo shop will average the highest number of regret tattoos per capita than any shop outside of a maximum security prison.

    The gun selection was pretty nice for a pawn shop but the size of the area devoted to firearms was rather small. Pricing seemed inline with what Scheels offers with less knowledge behind the counter. The gun range itself was nice if for no other reason than it is new, but the pricing makes it more expensive to shoot there than a place like Gary’s, and much less convenient. I suspect the casual shooter might use the range, but the serious shooter/collector won’t be interested in it as the entire experience is a big distraction and there are far too many people just standing around watching. Worth noting that when I visited it was a weekend and what would be considered “peak” hours, but there wasn’t a single person in the regular 8 shooting lanes and only one in the VIP lanes.

    I saw a lot of people looking at things but I didn’t see merchandise being moved. I can see the concert venue being successful but right now the pawn side of Badlands pawn is very much a non-starter. Perhaps after a few months their will have a more diverse inventory, but right now it appears they have no interest in being a real pawn shop and instead are just using it to fill up floor space between concerts. Keep in mind all of the merchandise is on rolling display racks which are moved out when a concert is held. Where they put them all I have no idea, but the actual concert floor didn’t appear all that large to me. It would be in line with The District or perhaps even slightly smaller.

    I also noticed a LOT of security and employees many of which didn’t appear to have much to do other than stand around and pretend to look tough. I imagine their training process involved a few hours of how to look intimidating while wearing a black t-shirt, because it was clear customer service was not the priority.

    I left having spent exactly $0 and on the way out I glanced around at those leaving at the same time as I was. One guy had two paper targets from the gun range in his hand and the other six or seven people walking out at the same time didn’t have anything with them. Granted if they just bought a small item it could have been in a pocket, but based upon the stock and full shelves coupled with not a single person in line at the registers it didn’t appear they were making sales at that moment in time. Not a good sign.

    I know Brennan has deep pockets and he didn’t cut corners here, but based upon what I saw I cannot see that place being in the black unless Brennan just writes off his initial investment. There is simply no way they will turn enough profit to cover their expenses as it sits today, and if this was a stockholder funded venture I’d put money on the doors being closed within two years maximum. However as Brennan has an ego and has some strange desire to emulate the business plan of Bif Tannen in Back to the Future 2, I imagine he will continue to put money into the place with the hopes that his concert series will serve up enough revenue to keep the doors open.

    The radio station might be profitable, the concerts might turn a profit, the gun range and shop could go either way, but that pawn shop / jewelry store / precious metals distribution surely don’t seem to have much of a positive future in my eyes.

    Then again Brennan has a vision and seems to know how to make money. He isn’t afraid of taking risks so I could be dead wrong and this could be the next big thing for him. However if you asked me to invest in it after seeing it I’d tell you my money would probably have a higher rate of return if I invested in Syrian government bonds.

  42. Sorry, Cory, I should have Googled the word. You really should visit the joint for yourself. It’s quite underwhelming when compared to the hype you read in the Sanford Leader. If you want to see some collectible guitars in a pawn setting, go to Sunset Pawn on W. 12th. All they have at Brennan’s joint are foreign-made knockoffs.

    And yes, I agree that is Brennan’s worldview. It’s probably the worldview of many of the fetishists who dress like extras in an amateur biker movie. They’d probably go home to play “World of Warcraft” on their PC so they can list it some day on their resume as military experience, except they had to pawn it for a 500 percent interest loan.

  43. Craig, thanks for taking the time to write such a detailed review!

    I may take time to visit the shop myself sometime—maybe Chuck will invite me down for an interview on his Badlands TV webcast! I think he and I could make fun TV together.

    …but Brennan should get his people to update the TV website. It still says, “The network is operated by long-time Emmy-nominated TV Producers Todd Magnuson and Terri Lawrenz. The creative team of Magnuson and Lawrenz will create several original TV series which will begin airing locally, regionally and nationally in late 2015,” but according to Stu Whitney, Magnuson and Lawrenz left Badlands in October.

  44. just some guy

    When I was there, I didn’t see anybody buying ANYTHING.. but, there was an actual line of people waiting to get their free “Badlands” tattoo. I have nothing against tattoos, but cannot fathom why anyone would even consider getting one promoting a radio station that has been on the air for a week. My general opinion of the place is that he’s trying to the next Pawn Star, but he’s about 5 years late to the game.

  45. Wade Brandis

    Craig: Did you know about the Badlands Pawn Deli, called Cleavers “Bad” Deli? It seems interesting, and they hired a business called Cleaver’s Market to run it. No menu is online, but they claim to have a combined “50+ years of experience” making deli sandwiches and soup.

    No one has really reviewed the deli part yet. I would like to know if their prices are also high and whether their food is good enough to justify that price? I won’t be able to get to Sioux Falls for quite a while.

    I too plan to eventually visit Badlands Pawn to judge my own opinion. From reading the comments here and the one-star reviews on Facebook, it just seems to be a post-apocalyptic Wall Drug… with weekly concerts. Wall Drug is automatically better even if it too is a tourist trap. I have many memories going there with my family.

    Chuck should add a roaring T-Rex. That should bring more people and kids. Oh wait… Chuck might make the T-Rex too scary for the kids.

  46. mike from iowa

    What does the Deli serve-pawned beef from NBP and failed dairies?

  47. Back in the day when Wall Drug was really a drug store and didn’t sell junk from China, polished rocks, and didn’t have the little Indian village where you put a quarter in and fake Indian music played while the giant fake Jackahorse sat and watched, they never even had a roaring T-Rex. And I hear tell the Indian village is gone and replace with a display on mining to mine some quarters from the bespectacled tourists.

    This Deli should start selling breakfast foods if they really want to draw a crowd. You could fill your belly with sausage and gravy taters, watch some gold get minted and then blast some targets and still be out of there before they start playing the loud longhair music.

  48. I did eat at the deli today. Had a mesquite turkey sandwich on wheat -toasted – with Badlands barbecue sauce. The meat was shaved thin right in front of me. The veggies were fresh. It was the fresh, thin-sliced meat that really made the sandwich. Head and shoulders above a subway sandwich. A real treat for the taste buds. The sandwich was about the size of a subway footlong. Bread choices are only white or wheat. Barbecue sauce was slightly sweeter than my taste buds prefer, so I wouldn’t take a bottle of it home. But I’d have it on a sub again. Sandwich and a soda for $10 plus tax. So good I will work it into my regular restaurant rotation – probably replacing subway.

  49. Wade Brandis

    Rorschach: Hmm… the deli actually sounds appetizing now, and the price is just right for such a sandwich combo. Chuck hired the right people for that part of the pawn, then.

    grudznick: I’m reminded of a little pressed coin album I got from Wall Drug. It was made in China, and it feels like something you bought from Dollar Tree. Very cheap and stiff plastic. I believe it was $5 or $10 for that. A lot of cheap souvenirs sold at South Dakota gift shops come from China these days. Rushmore Photo even has their souvenir books printed in China!

  50. Mr. Brandis, if people were serious around here about getting employment increased in parts of our state and giving people a better wage for working hard, real hard, they would start a job of making South Dakota gift shop souvenirs in South Dakota. Made in South Dakota, and sold in South Dakota by South Dakotans. Indeed. Perhaps the Governor will talk about this idea tomorrow in his speech.

  51. Mr. Rorschach, thank you for your review. It does sound tasty. Is there only the one sauce to choose from, and are there a variety of mustards from which one may select? The choice of mustards is not to be taken lightly.

  52. They had a number of different sauces to choose from grudz. I wanted the barbecue so I didn’t pay much attention to the others. I’ll try another one next time. Don’t know how many different mustards there may have been. I like a little zing to my mustard.

  53. Wade: “Did you know about the Badlands Pawn Deli, called Cleavers “Bad” Deli?”

    Yes it is one of the first things you see when you go in. It was pretty dead when I was there, but it could have simply been due to the time of day. There was a family of three just finishing up their meal and one or two other people at tables but nobody at the counter. I can’t speak to the food since I did’t eat there, but it may end up pulling some people in the door who otherwise wouldn’t have set foot in the place. Plus I imagine they will utilize that area for the bar during concert nights so it is dual-purpose.

    The “combined 50+ years of experience” is funny though. They obviously will employ primarily part-time help, and if they add their employees from the deli side along with their other location they might have 20 or 30 employees. If each one of them has a couple of years of service… well there is your “combined 50+ years” I suppose.

    I know a manager at a local McDonalds who once told me he had been working for McD’s since he was 16… I’d say he is pushing 50 now. If you add his experience together with a couple of assistant managers during any given shift they will likely have “50+ years of experience” thus I don’t think that is much to brag about.

    If the food is good people will come – even if the average employee has been there less than a year. I don’t think there is a very steep learning curve in a sandwich shop so a new hire is probably up to speed in under a month.

  54. Chuck should have called grudz or another expert to tell him what that radio station was worth – just like his buddy Rick does on pawn stars. Buyers remorse.

  55. Jeff Schaller

    Jon Small isn’t a bad guy but I wonder where the other buyers are??

    His wife is the one that rules his world.

    They had a nearly $400,000 home on the market for at least 2 And a half years, more like 3 years….that home in Brandon was foreclosed on a few months ago. They seemed to live way beyond their budget in my opinion. KZOZy also broadcasts in Sioux City. I believe Brennan really wanted the station, but the misrepresentation about domain and other things made it fall thru.

  56. Jeff, flesh out for me the misrepresentation about the domain. What part of Jon’s statements about the domain’s availability were incorrect?

  57. Wade Brandis

    Well, I was able to check out Badlands Pawn for myself today, and I will say, it could be far better in the pawn department. Let me get the good things out of the way first. The deli was wonderful, (I got the Italian sub) and the employees were friendly and courteous. But the variety on the pawn floor at this point is very limited, especially in the electronics area. There was also only a modest amount of people inside, and while KBAD was playing over the store speakers, the broadcast signal went to dead air for about an hour. The only place that seemed to have an abundance of products was the music department. Lots of guitars. There was also loads of Badlands brand merchandise as well.

    Perhaps it will get better in the future? I don’t know, but I still wonder why Chuck chose to have his concerts on Thursday nights with VIP tables going for $1,500. General admissions run anywhere from $9.45 to over $100 depending on what band is on stage.

  58. Any idea what killed the signal, Wade? Did the sandwich guy spill some vinegar on the microphone? :-)