Twas on a lazy Sunday afternoon a couple months ago, while flipping channels between innings of a Jays game, that I came across a Storage Wars marathon on A&E — and but a couple weeks later, under similar circumstances, that I found myself watching an Auction Hunters marathon on Spike. I don’t usually turn on the TV unless it’s to watch sports, but I gotta say, I am hooked on storage auction shows!
If you don’t know what I’m talking about, well, the intro to Auction Hunters pretty much sums it up. (Check out this video from 0:40 to 1:30.) “Every day in America, thousands of abandoned storage units are put up for public auction. These auctions have become big business for those who know what to look for…”
Auction Hunters follows two guys, Alan Haff, a geeky son of a used car dealer and an antique salesman who can spot valuable items from afar and Ton Jones, a dude who lives up to his name, with a thing for guns. These guys are real pros, who travel the country, storm other buyers’ turf and walk away with some cool items, which they flip for big profits. Honestly, I’m a little disappointed when they’ve made less than 5,000 dollars at the end of an episode–they often make five figures by reselling stuff they find in old lockers.
Storage Wars takes a different approach by focusing on an ensemble cast of “regulars” on the California storage auction scene. You’ve got Dave Hester, the self-made man, owner of a large second-hand store, who’s a bit of a prick. He’s known for his distinctive “Yep!” — and for always outbidding the competition.
Darrell Sheets (and son) is a longtime auction buyer who’s made a small fortune in stuff he’s sold outta storage lockers. He’s always in search of the “Wow Factor” — the unusual, yet valuable items people leave behind.
Barry Weiss is an older gentleman who is quite the character. He’s already made his fortune (though I don’t think we’ve ever been told how he got rich) and is strictly into the Storage Wars to find interesting items for his own collection. He often wears colourful outfits and brings along “helpers” like a psychic and a midget to throw off the competition.
Finally, you have Jarrod and Brandi, the auction n00bs. The married couple owns a small store in Orange County, which they stock up with items they buy at auctions. Drama ensues when they disagree on the price of a unit or when Jarrod tries to go mano a mano with Dave Hester, despite not having as much money. If their marriage ever breaks down, Brandi shouldn’t have too much trouble finding a new partner. “She’s a fox!” as Wayne Campbell would say (or was that Austin Powers?).
As you can see, these two reality shows about the exact same thing are different enough that one can enjoy both. What draws me to each one is the thrill of the find, which is something I can relate to. Last weekend, I unearthed some pretty cool gems out of massive, disorganized piles of vinyl records, and while I didn’t have to outbid anyone for them, I’ve been honing the haggling skills I’ve picked up from the two shows against scalpers and at garage sales. I’d like to think that I drive a pretty mean bargain, albeit not as mean as Ton Jones.
The Auction Hunters are in Vegas tonite, where there’s always some interesting stuff to be found. I’ll put the over/under on their profits at $8,500.
UPDATE 10:32: The boys got two units tonite for the sweet low price of 320 dollars, and flipped the contents for a whopping $4,750! Shoulda bet the under…
The TV Guide description for tomorrow’s Storage Wars has me excited: “Darrell speculates that Dave has gone broke.” Shit’s going down, son! Followed by an hour-long special, “Storage Wars: Unlocked” featuring highlights from this season and a preview of Storage Wars: Dallas. That’s right, they’re coming out with another storage auction show. Imma hafta clear my calendar!
Auction Hunters airs 10 pm Tuesdays on Spike.
Storage Wars usually airs back-to-back new episodes, starting at 10 pm, Wednesdays on A&E.