Get from Starstruck to Gold Struck: Win the Private Battles

Storage WarsWinning a war is really achieved by winning a series of battles.  The sum of its parts is always greater than the whole.

The ever entertaining A&E reality show “Storage Wars” deliberately hypes up the theatrical element to make going to storage auctions look like a daily epic war among kingpins, and of course we love it. But just as your tactics may change in playing a local poker discovered on Craigslist versus being pushed to the limit on every hand at the World Poker Tour, so should you adjust your standards and play at the local auction, while holding tight to some of the lofty principles propounded by the pros.

For serious auction goers near the beginning of their enterprise, the thing to look beyond when gleaning valuable information from the hit show is in the title itself: “Storage Wars.” No auction is primarily about the whooping and hollering between yourself and other beady-eyed bidders. These are really just minor skirmishes at best. Instead, think of the major war as a series of battles with yourself: your budget, your well honed judgments about the rough value of a units contents, and most importantly, your preparative measures for collecting the profits you stand to make on a unit once you've taken it.

The show's contestants may be sold as mere memorable typecasts in the eyes of the producers: Jarrod and Brandi are our “Young Guns,” David Hester is “The Mogul,” Barry Weiss is a seasoned “Collector,” and Darrell Sheets is also known as “The Gambler.” However, upon closer inspection, we can see that each one of them has already won a series of private battles that are indispensable to reaching professional status as a storage unit flipper.

3 Things They Share That you Should Share

Barry of storage wars1. Connecting With a Good Appraiser You can save yourself a lot of tedious hours of butt-numbing item research (save that for us writers) by working as part of a small, integral team: yourself, your appraiser, and perhaps another appraiser who is known to purchase collectables liberally, especially if you are most interested in selling off truly rare and valuable trinkets, as opposed to bulk sale.

Be very wary of “Storage Wars” notion of having a conjoined appraiser and buyer. It is bad form considering they could easily be playing you like the Pied Piper, leading you like a dancing mouse right into the river of under-appraisal.

The characteristics of this teammate should be formal training in appraisal (preferably holding some sort of degree in their field), an eclectic expertise, a history of successful business, a reasonable hourly rate, and a good compatibility with your own personality.

Make a weekend project out of shopping around a thirty or forty mile radius for the appraiser(s) who are the total package and commit to a small commute if it means having who you want (navigate to a more thorough punch list of finding one at the bottom of this article).

2. Sticking With the Process to Enhance Your Budget: Barring the outside possibility that you actually own a consignment shop like David Hester (“Nooppe!”) and therefore have a direct venue for selling your won goods, you will probably have to begin your auctioning investments out of pocket and go through more freelance means of selling said goods at a fair value. Try to “steal” a unit or two for around two hundred dollars apiece, then go through the entire selling process to the best of your ability to generate a small profit margin. Let the ball keep rolling in this manner until you have a comfortable buffer. Only then will you be able to go for the kill on some larger, more lucrative looking units.

Darrell Sheets of Storage Wars3. All the While, Hone Your Style
Chances are, you will not be able to encapsulate your entire auction looting philosophy into one clever epithet, like “The Collector.” In fact, this is probably not a healthy way of looking at things. Instead, think of all of those characters and their titles as manifestations of a single, dominant auction goer who can adjust their style to suit the current auction context. Answer the question “what are you in it for?” Of course profit and profit loss are involved, but sometimes you may just want to inspect and collect from units for the sheer fun of it. Maybe you are a niche expert on a particular class or field of collectable or are interesting in becoming one.

Your particular appetite for which goodies and what you plan to do with them will dictate your moniker, if you must have one (how about “The Furniture Finder,” or “The Neo-Cubist Newbist?”).

You may not ever be an auction legend with your own line of hats and t-shirts, little catch phrases, or a doting cameraman hanging on your ever word. In fact, this is probably more than ok.


Sometimes, the little league championship can be just as epic as The World Series. Win the preparation battles and in this business you will win the war.

David Gross, SUAL Content Writer

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