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Thu Apr 18 2013 21:17:43

Lessons Learned from A&E's Storage Wars

By: Julia Wilkinson

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It had been a while since I'd seen A&E's "Storage Wars," so after tuning in again recently, I thought, what lessons have I learned from this show that I could apply to my own scouting for antiques and collectibles? And were there, in fact, any? And if there were, could I share them with you in a coherent way? Well, here goes an attempt:

- Check behind things. And under things, over things, and, if it's a book, in between the pages. Who could forget the time Darrell Sheets opened up the back of a picture and found a stash of cash? 

I was at an estate clearout sale a while back and I heard someone say someone had found a hat box full of money. So, check those hat boxes too!

On the last show I watched I heard about Darrell's finding a whole locker full of paintings, which he was claiming were worth between $300,000 and $1 million (with the other regulars on the show of course mocking him for exaggerating), but which he says was the biggest payout the show had ever had. (However, I also stumbled across an article that said cast member Dave Hester had initiated a a lawsuit saying the show was faked, though Darrell disputes this).

- Come armed with the right tools, but do not call too much attention to yourself, a la Barry Weiss and his little-person-on-stilts-with-a-spelunking headlamp-stunt. For tools, I'm talking about bags, wrapping for fragile items, a jeweler's loupe and/or magnifier, and yes, a flashlight. The other day I found myself sans loupe and I discovered my iPhone has an app that acts as both a flashlight and a magnifier.

Why not call attention to yourself? Well, if course if you're going to be discovering the next lost Rembrandt, you don't want everyone else rushing over to paw through the stash of art lurking behind that old paper cutter. But if you're zooming in on an item no one else knows about, it may be because you....

- Know your niche. Or at least try to know a niche. One area of art, collectibles, and antiques in depth. Remember that ridiculous mannequin phone Darrell spotted that wound up being worth around $2000? Well, it seems Darrell has expertise in mannequin phones. But it makes scouting more fun (and often more lucrative) when you are learning more as you go.

- Know when to hold 'em. OK, so to speak. Try not to get too caught up in the moment. Obviously, try not to overpay for things. Nowadays with smartphones, it seems more difficult that anyone else will not know the value of things.

And yes, you can't expect to strike it rich in the storage auction business, and the show has spawned more interest in this business.

But one of the most fun things is when the bidders come across some really valuable stuff in a beat-up, motley-looking locker. That leads us to another important rule, in scouting and in life:

- Don't judge a book by its cover
. At least not 'til you've flipped through the pages looking for money.

What lessons have you learned from Storage Wars, or any similar show? Post a comment here!




Comments (15) | Permalink

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Lessons Learned from A&E's Storage Wars   Lessons Learned from A&E's Storage Wars

by: roseland This user has validated their user name.

Thu Apr 18 23:54:31 2013

I thought I'd seen every episode of this show and I do not remember the $300k art locker.  I saw some shows where they bought art but I don't remember it being worth $300k.  I wonder if Darryl bought it on his own and not during the taping of an episode?

Lessons Learned from A&E's Storage Wars   Lessons Learned from A&E's Storage Wars

by: rosachs This user has validated their user name.

Fri Apr 19 02:19:46 2013

Darrell's art find was a recent episode, probably from the new season.  The artwork was indeed appraised extremely high... but there's no confirmation of what anyone sells anything for, only what "experts" tell them it's worth, or what they say they can sell it for.

Where are the sales receipts??

Lessons Learned from A&E's Storage Wars   Lessons Learned from A&E's Storage Wars

by: nsc This user has validated their user name.
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Fri Apr 19 05:36:59 2013

Darrell did buy his art locker in a televised episode...of course, the $300 K number was the appraiser's figure for a bunch of paintings by very modern, still working artists. The appraisers appraise things very high on this show -- full retail tends to be the floor, not the ceiling.

Lessons Learned from A&E's Storage Wars   Lessons Learned from A&E's Storage Wars

This user has validated their user name. by: Philip Cohen
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Fri Apr 19 06:27:19 2013

Ho, ho, ho, you do all know that "storage Wars" is all staged, don't you? ... it's called "entertainment" ...

Lessons Learned from A&E's Storage Wars   Lessons Learned from A&E's Storage Wars

This user has validated their user name. by: Al G

Fri Apr 19 09:30:34 2013

Philip:

Right on. All of these "reality" shows are entertainment.

Can you score at a storage locker - yes. Can you score every week (or someone scores on THAT show every week) - get reality!

PS. Pawn Stars (or whatever it is called) has actors as sellers, "experts" who just happen to know the producer (I have a story on that one) and "selected" items.

It's like the Pickers - coming back with 5-6 items in a van after a 5-day 1000 mile trip? How long do you stay in business with that business model. Maybe it is the residuals on the re-runs.

Lots of fun to watch, but it is only mildly amusing.

Lessons Learned from A&E's Storage Wars   Lessons Learned from A&E's Storage Wars

This user has validated their user name. by: Al G

Fri Apr 19 09:37:13 2013

BUT, in buying collections, estates, tag sales I do agree with the above points.

Look in books - found extra value hidden there.

Don't do high fives until you are driving away from the crime scene (got something for a 'steal').

Do look in the nooks. Discovered stuff that wasn't priced for the sale & got a deal.

Use your fastest & most portable computer to assess worth - your noggin unless you have the time to type into your smart phone or tablet everything you see of interest. By that time, someone else has grabbed the articles you didn't get to, or the seller figures out you figured out & won't dicker with you since you KNOW.

Rule #1  - get in early & get out quick - there's more work to do that day.  

Lessons Learned from A&E's Storage Wars   Lessons Learned from A&E's Storage Wars

This user has validated their user name. by: East Coast Toy Soldier Show
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Fri Apr 19 09:51:58 2013

Storage wars and the like are certainly 'staged' yet they are entertaining.  As for your mention of a jeweler's loupe and magnifier. For the last couple of years it's common to see some very aggressive yard-sale & estate sale-buyers whip-out loupes, magnifiers and even small hanging scales to scrutinize items, prior to purchase.  If I were conducting these sales, I'd ask these disruptive buyers to leave.

Lessons Learned from A&E's Storage Wars   Lessons Learned from A&E's Storage Wars

by: FREDDY This user has validated their user name.

Fri Apr 19 10:44:53 2013

I loved the way Dave would appraise everything. If those were the prices (or even close) he sells things for, you would have semi loads of merchandise from the midwest heading to California every day to make a killing. The prices they say items are worth are a joke. Maybe in their dreams. It is fun to watch just to see what crazy stuff they come up with.
What they did accomplish is to raise the prices of storage auctions across the country. Auctioneers love it as they get paid on a percentage.

Lessons Learned from A&E's Storage Wars   Lessons Learned from A&E's Storage Wars

by: Overlandgadgets This user has validated their user name.

Fri Apr 19 10:45:12 2013

I have tried the ''storage wars'' thing and it was a failure.  I didn't really want to go in too deep but I did want to see how it worked.  I bought a very small locker for $90.00 because it had three big ''import'' boxes in it.  One box was almost full of green plastic Christmas ornaments the other two were about half full.  One had white and the other had red ornaments.  FLOP!  I have found things in books that were far more valuable than the book, so, as other posters have said, don't sell or pitch a book until you look trough it.  No money but I found paper items that sold for over $30.00 in a worn out book from the fifties.  This out of a lot of 4 boxes that I paid $5.00 total for at auction.  If you play in water long enough, sooner or later, you're gonna get wet.

Lessons Learned from A&E's Storage Wars   Lessons Learned from A&E's Storage Wars

by: nsc This user has validated their user name.
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Fri Apr 19 15:52:54 2013

It's easy to stage an auction, Philip. Just have your guys being willing to pay more than it's worth; they'll win every time. Then have them go through the locker and claim that everything sellable is worth at least four times what they could really get for it. Presto, success.

Lessons Learned from A&E's Storage Wars   Lessons Learned from A&E's Storage Wars

by: Small Guy This user has validated their user name.

Fri Apr 19 22:40:51 2013

A recent FOX article reported Dave Hester sued Storage Wars.
 http://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/2012/12/11/torage-wars-star
-dave-hester-says-show-is-fake-suing-report-says/


He claimed items "found" in the lockers were planted to make the shows more interesting.  I supected this, but that article confirms it.

Lessons Learned from A&E's Storage Wars   Lessons Learned from A&E's Storage Wars

by: Dazzle This user has validated their user name.

Sat Apr 20 09:13:17 2013

Silly folks - do you really think all those shows are real? Only one I found real was the Bering Sea Gold show - that one really is only thing I don't understand is why the miners do it - they must be making alot of money to show their friends committing suicide. After that episode I quit watching - no sense in encouraging that type of thing on national tv. Reality has gone too far I think. Good lord that man had family.

Lessons Learned from A&E's Storage Wars   Lessons Learned from A&E's Storage Wars

by: cherrypieandroses This user has validated their user name.

Sat Apr 20 16:43:12 2013

"For the last couple of years it's common to see some very aggressive yard-sale & estate sale-buyers whip-out loupes, magnifiers and even small hanging scales to scrutinize items, prior to purchase.  ***If I were conducting these sales, I'd ask these disruptive buyers to leave.***"  How in the world is that disruptive?  A magnet to see if it's brass.  A loupe to look for damage.  Entirely reasonable.  You'd be the one to say "let the buyer beware" yet not allow one to inspect.  Glad you don't run the sales around here.  

Lessons Learned from A&E's Storage Wars   Lessons Learned from A&E's Storage Wars

by: Harriet This user has validated their user name.

Sun Apr 21 19:34:11 2013

Those shows are fun and interesting. I think they are all staged, but you do learn about items you might come across from time to time. American Pickers is just about the most staged show. We think we are watching them going into the pick on their own, but there are camera men and crew trucks. I also don't think they simply walk away from a huge "honey hole" with just a few items. They send their trucks back (or have them already there) to buy all the valuable things. Why leave it for others to make a profit from?

Just enjoy them for what they really are. You might learn something you could put to use one day.

I've found, with sales, you either have to go very early, or go very late when things are very, very cheap. Not everything good sells early on. I've found some really nice things when sales were about to close.  

Lessons Learned from A&E's Storage Wars   Lessons Learned from A&E's Storage Wars

This user has validated their user name. by: juliawww

Sun Apr 21 23:23:05 2013

Al, you're not gonna tell us your pawn stars story? C'mon, spill! ;)

Harriet, I agree..I have found good stuff late in a sale too....the good thing about it is the seller or sale manager is more willing to barter. Once I even got Meissen rose tea cups and saucers for 25 cents each, at the end of a Sunday sale! But that is rare.



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