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.)