From Where I Sit – Not Spend a Dime

we’re about a month away from the launch of season three of TV’s Storage Wars on A&E. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you are in the minority. This original series is top-rated on the network in the 25-54 demographic. It even has a spinoff, Storage Wars Texas.

The premise is simple. When the rent on storage units falls into arrears, the contents are auctioned off so that the owners of the complex can recoup their money. The rules allow potential bidders only a cursory look from the doorway of the unit?no stepping inside, no touching anything. In the TV show bidders must pay cash on the spot. Some quick research into the Canadian scene reveals that debit and credit card payments are acceptable here.

Part of the appeal of the show is the cast of regular buyers. My personal favourite is Barry Weiss, aka the ?Collector,? because of his laid-back attitude and self-deprecating one-liners. The first time I Googled him, I didn’t doubt the Wikipedia entry that claimed he was a music producer. It was believable because of his knowledge and famous friends. The truth is less glamorous: he and his brother made their fortune through 25 years in the produce business.

More abrasive and less likeable are the ?Mogul,? Dave Hester; the ?Gambler,? Darrell Sheets; and the ?Rookie,? Jarrod Schulz (and wife Brandi Passante). Yet the push-pull among the players is vital to the success of the show.

Perhaps the real reason the show is so popular is that we all love the idea of getting something for nothing. We like to see what treasures are hidden beneath the junk and throwaway furniture. We want to see who comes on top each week as the total values are tallied.

We love the one-in-a-million odds. Darrell Sheets is holding onto four pencil sketch Picassos he found about 20 years ago. He still regrets the comic book collection he sold for only $130,000.

A March 2012 Edmonton Journal story tells of a woman who found a stash of individually wrapped comic books right here in Edmonton. She bought a total of three units for $1400 and seems to have scored many resaleable items, including a flat screen TV, washer and dryer, fishing gear, and more. However, the story also mentions many trips to the dump to get rid of soiled clothing and other junk.

And therein lies the rub: disposing of the contents, either for cash or to simply get rid of the worthless.

One storage locker site I researched states that buyers have between 24 and 48 hours to empty the contents. No wonder most of the TV bidders have trucks and trailers, staff, and second-hand stores or websites or a Rolodex full of dealers that they can rely on when they need to unload their purchases.

It’s tempting, but maybe It’s simpler (and cheaper) to get our kicks vicariously in the comfort of our own homes. We can enjoy the thrill of success through our favourite characters and still not spend a dime, from where I sit.

Hazel Anaka’s first novel is Lucky Dog. Visit her website for more information or follow her on Twitter @anakawrites.

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