Storage Wars: A new show on A&E

There is more than 2.3 billion square feet of self-storage space in the United States, according to The Self Storage Association. Some of this space is used wisely — by people serving overseas, people storing personal things while they sell their homes, or for other temporary situations — but a lot of self-storage space is used as a very expensive extra room to hold people’s clutter.

Unfortunately, when people stop making payments on these units, they are sealed off and put up for auction. The television network A&E is tracking this auction phenomenon in a new series called Storage Wars:

A&E presents the new original real-life series “Storage Wars,” which follows four professional buyers and their teams as they scour repossessed storage units in search of hidden treasure. Part gamblers, part detectives, these seasoned veterans have found everything from coffins to the world’s most valuable comic book collection, paying as little as ten dollars for items valued in the millions.

The series begins tonight at 10:00 p.m. EST/9:00 p.m. CST with the episode “High Noon in the High Desert“:

It’s a showdown in the high desert as the buyers crack open a trove of abandoned storage lockers. Barry Weiss unearths the personal possessions of rap magnate Suge Knight. Jarrod Schulz and Dave Hester throw down their bankrolls in hopes of scoring a classic organ. And Darrell Sheets reveals a historic, one hundred and fifty thousand-dollar find. Classic items, wily personalities–let the storage wars begin!

I’m interested in seeing how A&E handles this material. I’ve written before about my frustrations with the television show Hoarders (and also here), and how I believe the editing of the show pushes aside the mental health aspects of hoarding and instead aims to wow viewers with shock and awe. I think the show can be dehumanizing. (Again, I want to stress that I think it’s the editing of the show and not the actual professional organizers and psychologists who are responsible for the dehumanizing.) A large part of me fears that Storage Wars is going to forget that there are people who once owned the possessions being laid out for bidding. I’ll watch tonight and see how this sensitive topic is handled by A&E. My fingers are crossed that they have found a way to highlight the self-storage problem in the United States without ridiculing or embarrassing the people who are losing their things.

(Image from A&E.)

20 Comments for “Storage Wars: A new show on A&E”

  1. posted by Sue on

    My experience with storage unit auctions is probably vastly different that what this show will portray. My husband was on the list of people to notify prior to local storage unit auctions, and what we found was that the threat to auction unpaid storage units was enough to get the deadbeats to pay. Rarely did anything actually make it to auction, and the few units that did were full of actual trash, not “treasures”.

    It was a big waste of time for us.

  2. posted by Zyzzyx on

    I doubt it will focus at all on the ‘personal’ side of it. More likely it will focus on the monetary gains possible. Look at the house-flipping shows popular a few years ago, it was always about the profit from the sale. Look at the current show on History, “American Pickers”; yeah, they show some neat stuff and have some tales (much of which is set up and arranged, I’m sure), but it still comes down to how much they spent and how much they can sell it for. Or look at “Pawn Stars”; they at least have more information and such about the items, but still end with how much they can resell stuff for. And finally, there’s already a ‘storage unit’ show on Spike, “Auction Kings”. I’ve watched bits of it a few times, it has very little substance, basically coming down to making it look almost glamorous, buying stuff and making 50% to 500% profit on resale.

    I wouldn’t expect much at all from this show.

  3. Profile photo of

    posted by Sky on

    what does it say about us as a society when we have tv shows about people NOT being able to pay for their storage unit?
    It just seems wrong to me.

  4. posted by momof3 on

    A nasty story here in the chicago area is about a dad not keeping up on payments. I think due to pressure in the local media, the unit’s auction winner returned the items of a fallen solider to the family.

  5. posted by Brian on

    I have been buying, hauling, sorting, and selling lien storage units for over 15 years now, and can declare that it doesn’t even come close to the sensationalism they are trying to convey in these TV programs…they are all about ratings, and nothing more. One thing you never quite get over is the gut wrenching pain of knowing that someone out there is losing their possessions, personal and other every time the gavel falls.

  6. posted by Jane Else on

    Hey, it’s an American TV show…we wouldn’t expect anything less than dramatic music, running camera shots, baritone voice-overs, dramatic advert breaks followed by a dramatic show recap (in case you forgot what the show was about in the last 2 minutes…)!

    From my perspective shows such as this are, in themselves, pointless clutter. Clutter enters into our lives in many different ways, unfortunately many people don’t see that spending time watching a sensationalist show such as this is also part of a cluttered life-style.

    Whilst you could argue that this is entertainment, I disagree, unless you get your kicks from cashing in on the misfortune of others that is.

  7. posted by Gloia on

    I went to a rummage sale at a storage unit and it turned out to be the owners selling the contents for non payment. There were all these photo books with priceless family pictures. I will never go to one again or watch that kind of show. It makes me sick.

  8. posted by Stella on

    They should have named the show “Scavengers.”

    And I take offense at calling people who default on their payments “deadbeats.”

    It sounds heartbreaking. I won’t be tuning in.

  9. posted by Lesley on

    I’m not a big fan of “reality” TV and have little time for television, so I won’t be watching this show.

    That said, I can’t help but smile and shake my head at the perspectives offered in the original piece and comments. Storage auctions happen in the United States every single day. People don’t pay, and they lose their stuff. It’s that simple.

    There seems to be an assumption here that every auctioned storage locker is full of family treasures. Really? Would you put your family treasures in a storage locker?

    In most cases, I would bet people don’t lose their stuff because they are indigent. It’s because they are irresponsible. And there are consequences for irresponsibility.

    Even if someone does suddenly find themselves without enough money to make a payment, there is an easy solution. They just have to remove their items from storage when they can no longer pay.

    Those who don’t? They’re using something that they did not pay for. Which does make them deadbeats.

  10. posted by gypsy packer on

    Most storage units contain old clothes, extra beds, superannuated TV’s, and junk. The producers, in one segment, tried to make Rogers Silver sound like a high-profit item: in reality, this is inexpensive silverplate. I know several flea marketers who buy storage, and none have quit their day jobs, using the storage as a supplement to household income and their personal goods.
    The predominant threat such shows pose is to those who pay their rent on storage, only to have their warehouses burglarized and contents sold. In one case, this was back and forth across the Tennessee-Georgia line by the son of a Hamilton County, TN sheriff’s department employee–and I am not making this up!

  11. posted by Gil on

    This show is nonsense, and so are the people that are in it. One guy stated he prides himself on being a jerk during the bidding.

    Additionally, what sane person would put expensive watches, coins and baseball card collections in an outdoor storage unit?

    At least with Hoarders, there is an effort at rehabilitation. In “Garage Wars”, it’s pure greed.

    If anything, it should discourage one from putting valuables in storage.

  12. posted by Teresa on

    I agree with the rest of the folks here, this isn’t entertainment – it’s sad and sometimes heartbreaking. 15 years ago my ex’s mother who was a lifelong UN peacekeeping worker, was in Rwanda (at the time of the massacres). Through a series of unfortunate circumstances that were just a matter of details that slipped through the cracks, she lost her storage unit here in the US. It contained everything from her childhood and most everything she had kept from her adult life – including her BIRTH CERTIFICATE; it was AWFUL.

  13. posted by FRANCES on

    I hate reality tv shows altogether! However, I must not lie, I watched this tonight. it leaves a bad feeling in my mouth. About 10 years ago, my husband and i went to one. In PA the laws are quite different. They go through everything first. All pictures and personal documents are destroyed.This particular one, they were selling everything as an individual sale. We were bidding on a filing cabinet and right at the last moment, some guy stopped the bidding and said well what’s inside… they opened up the cabinet and found a bunch of stuff. They restarted the auction and I was like this is BS. In the cabinet was a bunch of pictures etc that was overlooked. They threw them all away. I was sick to my stomach seeing this. I did purchase a few things, but some of the stuff came with a few family pictures that I was lucky enough to find out who the unit had belonged to and contacted the family and returned the pictures. Told my husband that if i ever won the lottery, I’d want to go around buying units like that to help people get thier personal belongings back. Not to mention sherriff sales on homes. I have seen many sad situations where people loose their homes due to tragedies and misfortune… I’d love to be able to help them out. But that’s just me and I know I’d never make any money, but it’s not about the financial aspect to me. It’s about being human and helping man kind.

  14. posted by Michael on

    I think storage wars is an awsome show. It is most likly fixed but I like watching the guys fight for the units. It is suspense to me.

  15. posted by holliy drolli on

    i love your website and love storage wars!!! hope u keep up the good work!!!

  16. posted by KATHY on

    My husband died 10 years ago and had thrown different things together that I, a one hand amputee has been trying to weed out for years.There are family things mixed in there and there is no room in an apartment to bring everything home. I can’t have yard sales at an apartment to weed through the trash part,and it is very difficult.When you can’t afford to pay they lock you out so you can’t get the stuff out of there. I have no car and little friends that are busy with their own lives.My kids and I struggle to pay every month and try to get rid of stuff to make room to take stuff out of the storage.But am always behind and you are locked out after 7 days if you are late. That makes it difficult to weed through more stuff. I had a husband once,and a car… And jobs are scarce.I just want to weed out certain valuables that are family oriented. Things were thrown in there by my deceased husband,and I am not trying to be a deadbeat. I can’t catch up that’s all. The world is greedy,and most people do not wanna help .They just wanna see what they can make off someone else’s misfortune and heartbreak..If I had a yard and a car..I could go down there and weed through the stuff.It’s heartbreaking that people choose to do this stuff and act like animals . If the tables were turned..wonder how they would feel. If you bought my storage,and found photos,and other personal items..would you give them back to me before throwing them in the trash? I think a lot of these people at these auctions are heartless enough to toss it,even if that person was right there crying in front of all the bidders..Just my take on how all these people act.

  17. posted by nicole on

    so if someone is unable to make a payment yet don’t have anywhere else to store their items, they are DEADBEATS? where the hell do you get off saying that? sometimes things happen to where you just aren’t able to keep up with your payments. maybe i did have $150 to pay my bill but OOPS, my transmission went out. i had the money this month but DAMN, i have to pay the personal nurse to care for my aunt that’s dying of cancer. i planned on having the money this week but i had to put it on a funeral. as you can tell, i’m speaking from experience.

  18. posted by Lonnie Elling on

    I just returned home after being gone for 2 weeks to find my storage locker broken in to and ran-sacked after 8 years with no problems. The people down a few lockers were inventorying their stuff too because theirs had been broken in to as well. The first thing I thought when I saw this show was how long it would take for the thieves to start breaking in to all the other hard working honest peoples storage lockers that pay their rent on time. This show has planted the idea to thieves all around the country that every locker is filled with treasure and by showing them how fast and easy it is to break into a unit and steal your personal stuff. If any one else feel the same way please let them know before you become the next victim! This is one show they need to get off the air ASAP!

  19. posted by Declutterer on

    In case anybody hasn’t figured this out yet, this show is a SET-UP. Sure, I’m sure most of the stuff in the lockers is real (all the junky furniture and boxes etc tossed in), but when they find a box full of valuable JEWELRY or COINS or whatnot that is sitting on the top and the buyer of the locker is all like “oh gee, what do you think is in HERE?” it was planted there and they know what is in it before they open it so they can react properly. Like, duh! I’m sure they find stuff like that once in a blue moon but certainly not as often as happens on this show. As someone else pointed out, would YOU leave a valuable diamond RING in a storage locker? What, you don’t have ROOM for it????? C’mon…..

  20. posted by victoria on

    I don’t even know where to begin…The reason I got a storage space is because a tornado tore my house up and one half had the roof taken off. Everything that wouldn’t fit on the side with the roof intact had to be removed. There were at least twenty people working there, boxing things up and transporting it to the storage unit. There was no way I could see what all went, and where it was located in the unit. See, some of you just can’t understand how things happen, because it didn’t happen to you. It’s about circumstances.

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