Thursday, March 17, 2011

Storage Wars - Reality TV?

Over the last few months I have had the opportunity to view the reality show Storage Wars.  This show is no where near reality.  I spent five years in the storage auction business buying as many as 10 lockers a month and selling the contents.  This show is about finding treasure and contrived drama.  It appears that without exception items of extreme value are found in every show.  You can in fact find high value items, but it is rare.

The show fails to disclose how much work is involved.  In order to get a good locker, you must look at hundreds.  Typically you start early in the morning at a particular storage facility and follow and auctioneer around to numerous sites one after the other.  Then after you buy the locker you have from 24 to 48 hours to remove all of the contents.  The storage site will not allow you to use there trash bin, so this means that you will have to remove all of the trash to another location.  It was my experience that 50 to 60 percent of the contents of a storage lock is trash or not saleable.

Then comes selling the contents  to get your money.  There are some things that you can sell online.  Most you cannot.  That means Craigslist or the flea market.  On the show they follow bidders and two of them have thrift stores.  This is certainly a way to move product.  However, for the average person, this expense of renting and manning a store is out of reach.

Finally, the drama.  Yes there is a big dog in every fight.  There are bidders that are hard to compete against.  But for the most part everyone is in the same business and usually there are enough lockers to go around.  At least before this show started airing. 

I have taken a break from the aucition business.  Before the show started 20 to 30 people showed up.  After  the the show started 125 people was not unusual.  This means that every locker takes 4 times as long to sell.  It took forever to get through a day.  After things settle down, I may go back.  For now, I'm on the sidelines.