The Storage Wars Phenomenon

A&E has found a smash hit in their new reality show Storage Wars, which chronicles the wins and losses of professional storage auction buyers as they traverse the country looking for buried modern treasure in self-storage lockers that have been defaulted on. Many of these professional ‘pickers’ hunt through repossessed storage lockers because they’re looking to supply their own thrift stores with inventory.

Storage locker auctions offer an excellent opportunity for finding deeply discounted merchandise that can be refurbished and resold for profit. As the show relates, however, there is an element of risk in all storage auction hunting. Sometimes buyers will have a strong feeling about a unit only to pay several hundred dollars for it to realize it contains nothing of real value.

This is obviously the worst case scenario for Storage Wars stars. Paying a good chunk of change for someone else’s discarded junk and garbage is frustrating to say the least. However, the upside is that Storage Wars stars like Brandi Passante, Dave Hester and Jarrod Schulz sometimes get lucky and stumble upon hardwood furniture, fine gemstone jewelry, and media collections worth thousands of dollars.

By supplying their consignment and thrift shops with a steady stream of discounted goods, they’re able to turn a respectable profit. It’s no wonder that so many Storage Wars viewers end up deciding to try their hands at public storage auctions, too. After all, storage auctions are open to the public by law, and anyone can show up to the facility with some extra cash and have a chance at bidding on units that are offered by the self storage company for sale.

Aside from the basic action of bidding, winning and losing that Storage Wars offers its viewers, there’s a good deal of personality and eccentricity that goes into making this television show successful. Storage Wars’ buyers are often testy, combative and downright weird. Barry Weiss, for instance, once brought a pair of night vision goggles and a very short friend to an auction in hopes of scoping out units better than any other buyers could.

Dave Hester will regularly intimidate and badger his fellow auction buyers by bidding up the final prices on units he doesn’t even want, just to increase the overall cost to his competition while decreasing their profit margins. Vicious? Certainly, but it’s fairly effective as well.