David Hester's Hunter Heroism? Let the Debate Begin!
I will never grow tired of the phenomenon of television making overnight celebrities out of people. If any of the Storage Wars stars have caused anything of a stir on the interweb, then it’s the notoriously loved/hated David Hester. There is seemingly no reason that an owner of a consignment shop and storage auction junkie should be on par with professional athletes or film makers, but, it is what it is. However, the most interesting thing about Hester's stardom is that it kind of makes you wonder: what types of people are worthy of the public’s elevation to heroism? Why not a hard working, formerly down on his luck self-made collector who goes out of his way to trick and thwart the competition, to be feared rather than loved? Isn’t that what America is becoming, in a sense? Only the clever, self-promoting souls survive?
I recently ran across this article, and like many writers in this sub-sphere, was floored to find a well-rounded, equal parts funny, ironic and informative online dialogue about the show. It’s entitled “Storage Wars Debate: Does Rooting for David Hester Make You a Bad Person?”
The article is co-authored, a call and response between “Kang” and “Hua,” set up in a mock debate about who is more important to the show: David Hester or Barry Weiss. Speckled with hilarious cracks like, “Hey Storage Wars: Texas: It’s not all that compelling to watch [former Dallas Cowboy, Roy Williams] who at some point made $11 million a year try to eke out a $400 profit on a unit," the argument basically boils down to this: David Hester is the money maker, is the successful entrepreneur that starry eyed practitioners of this trade aspire to be, while Barry helps placates the ruthless American Dreamer in us by displaying a nonchalance, time and time again, to losing money, and seems to silently argue that “the journey is the destination” by finding the humor in all of this and enjoying his failures just as well as his successes.
Here's a neat walkthrough of "Kang's" argument for Hester:
“Barry, not Dave, is the 'One Percent.' He’s no better than those hobbyist trust-fund farmers who have started plowing down fields in upstate New York. His bourgeois boredom has drawn him back to some blue-collar fantasy of turning a $300 profit on some old crap in a storage locker… Dave has made a profit of $3.26 for every dollar he’s spent over the first two seasons of the show. Nobody else is over $2.00. All entrepreneurs have to be ruthless. At least Dave Hester admits to it…who cares if he’s mean? Wouldn’t you be mean to people who can’t come up with their own catchphrases and instead just get mad about yours?”
And "Hua’s" Barry rebuttal goes something like this:
“Dave tends to inflate the value of his finds. If Darrell is the guy who will point to a stack of crummy records and say, 'That’s a 30-dollar bill right there,' then Dave’s the one who prices things at random and never concedes a setback… Barry plays an altogether different game. Dave might one day make more money than Barry, but he will never live the good life… Weiss is interested in history, our American pastimes and traditions, bygone dreams. He’s constantly trying to find all those unknown little quirks and curiosities that dot our national narrative…he rarely ever bids to thwart someone else.”
I highly recommend reading this article because it is hilarious. My serious synopsis/takeaway of the discussion would be this: Hester and Weiss are the Yin and the Yang of the storage auction business. You need both of their attitudes to survive, work ethic/self-marketing/ruthlessness and fascination/humor/curiosity, in order to not experience burnout. David Hester is the embodiment of the American Dream, and also the living example of how this storage hunting enterprise can take you to the top, if you work hard enough. "The Mogul" went from Goodwill volunteer courtesy of a DUI conviction to a self-made millionaire. Barry Weiss is the comic relief, the personality of the show, but he is not indicative of our practice because he does not bid and sell for profit, which we should all conceivably be doing. So, at the end of the day, those who want to make a living doing this should be rooting for Hester, despite his sometimes abrasive personality.
In the grander scheme of things, Hester, as they say “did not put his mark on the map, but made the map.” Let’s look at his marketing of the basic, everyday utterance “Yup.” You know you’re on top when flair up pop stars, a la “Trey Songz,” have been battling you for over a year over branding a version of the word “yes.” If you have not heard about this story, this is America in its absolute most incorrigible state, but we will save that for another day. The point is, maybe there is an element of Hester’s insatiable need to be the undisputed kingpin of storage auctions, the Scarface of resale, which justifiably gets him trouble. But then again, this lawsuit seems so petty that it is hard to find fault with Hester.
On a final but crucial Hester related note, let’s look at an example of the good his self-marketing campaign has done for the trade and for altruist public relations. Examine the title of this noble, charitable news story from sun-sentinel.com, another story I would recommend reading for inspiration, and attending if you live anywhere near Boynton Beach, Florida.
You see? Despite the external appearance of his rakish greed, Hester, who incidentally, routinely donates his bulk finds to Goodwill, has taken “Yup” and made it a keyword, a signifier, for our trade and for the good that can be found in it. If you didn’t read the story, it’s a short press release about an upcoming stocked storage unit auction charity event (like an adult Easter egg hunt), who will be putting all ten dollar attendance fees profits towards an organization call “Forgotten Soldiers Organization,” a company that sends much needed supplies to servicemen and women who are desperate for them.
The Boynton beach side units will contain brand new furniture, gym equipment, and other planted treasures--a humane cause fueled by Hester’s basic bid affirmation, a simple utterance, a fire in the distance that all fans of storage auctions tarry towards in the night.
So, I’m going to have to go out on a limb and say it: “Yup,” Hester is the hero of the debate…at least today.
David Gross, SUAL.com Content Writer