Title card (Seasons 1-2)
Dave Hester (Seasons 1-3)
|Narrated by||Thom Beers|
|Theme music composer||Andy Kubiszewski|
|Opening theme||"Money Owns This Town"|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||5|
|No. of episodes||104 (List of episodes)|
|Executive producer(s)||Robert Sharenow and Elaine Frontain Bryant, Thom Beers and Philip D. Segal|
|Running time||21–22 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Original Productions|
|Original run||December 1, 2010– present|
The show features the auctioneering couple of Dan Dotson and Laura Dotson, as well as buyers: Barry Weiss, the usually together but occasionally separated team of Darrell and Brandon Sheets, the team of Jarrod Schulz and Brandi Passante, and Dave Hester. Executive producer and creator Thom Beers serves as off-screen narrator. When rent is not paid on a storage locker for three months in California, the contents can be sold by an auctioneer as a single lot of items in the form of a cash-only auction. The show follows professional buyers who purchase the contents based only on a five-minute inspection of what they can see from the door when it is open. The goal is to turn a profit on the merchandise.
Storage Wars can be seen internationally as well, as AETN International has sold the series to several channels in Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Italy, Poland, Germany, Spain and Denmark. in New Zealand, it can be seen on Prime TV at 7pm Saturdays and Sundays.
Season one of Storage Wars consisted of 19 episodes, 17 of which were filmed at various self-storage facilities throughout Southern California. The show has enjoyed ratings success, and its second season premiere attracted 5.1 million total viewers, making it the most-watched program in A&E's history to that point.
Storage Wars was recommissioned for another 26-episode season in January 2012, with the season officially premiering on June 5, 2012. Only 20 of the 26 episodes were aired however, with six of the episodes being held back for broadcast during the second half of the show's 3rd season which began airing on December 4, 2012. In March 2013, four early, special season 4 episodes aired prior to the official launch of Season 4, which premiered on April 16, 2013. Season 5 will begin airing on March 18, 2014.
A spin-off of Storage Wars titled Storage Wars: Texas made its debut on A&E on December 6, 2011. The series features a new cast of bidders and an auctioneer. A second spinoff called Storage Wars: New York was originally scheduled to debut on December 11, 2012. but has since been pushed out to January 1, 2013. In April 2013, It was announced that a spinoff called Storage Wars: Canada, was to start filming in May 2013. This series is scheduled to air on OLN, which currently airs Storage Wars and Storage Wars: Texas in Canada, alongside A&E.[dated info]
- Jarrod Schulz and Brandi Passante - "The Young Guns" (Season 1-present): Schulz and Passante own and operate the "Now and Then" thrift store in Orange County, California. In early fourth season 2013, they opened another, larger, store in Long Beach, California, after Jarrod's business of buying storage units and selling the contents at swap meets overran their comfort of a home. Jarrod is also a co-owner of a clothing line, Outlaw Apparel, which he prominently wears on the show. They began the series as relative newcomers in storage unit buying and mostly stayed within low spending caps and were hesitant to bid on large units. As the series has progressed, they have been able to be players on higher end units like the other buyers. They are also known for not being quite as overly aggressive as other buyers and are typically more laid back.
- Darrell Sheets - "The Gambler" (Season 1-present): Sheets, a storage auction veteran from San Diego, appears alongside his son, Brandon. His catchphrase is "This is the WOW factor!" and he makes the occasional malapropism. He makes his living by selling items from his purchased lockers at swap meets. He owns his own store in San Diego, California. In the beginning of the series, he lived with his wife, son and young granddaughter, Zoe. He has divorced, and moved (with Brandon) to North Hollywood, where he works out of his new warehouse. In an interview, Sheets indicated that some of his biggest finds in lockers included a sizable comic book collection, four drawings by Pablo Picasso, and a letter written by Abraham Lincoln that sold for over US$15,000. In Unlocked: Sell High, Darrell revealed that he once found a plastic-wrapped human corpse in a storage locker. It was determined that the previous owner of the locker had murdered his wife and left her in the unit. Darrell also bought a locker for US$3,600 with many pieces of original artwork by Frank Gutierrez and had them appraised for approximately US$300,000, the biggest in the show's history.
Past main buyers
- Dave Hester - "The Mogul" (Season 1-3): At the start of the series, Hester owned Newport Consignment Gallery in Costa Mesa, California and the Rags to Riches thrift store, but closed them in June 2011. He now operates his own auction house, Dave Hester Auctions. Hester has had confrontations with the other main buyers, especially Darrell and Brandon Sheets, and is known to raise bids whenever somebody wants to buy the unit. Hester's son Dave Jr. occasionally appeared on the show with him. Hester's signature catchword is a loud "YUUUP!" when making a bid. He has this word imprinted on his trucks, t-shirts, and hats. Hester revealed on Anderson Live that his call originated from him being a bid-catcher in auction facilities, helping auctioneers spot bidders in a crowd. In December 2012, Hester was fired from the show, and sued the show's producers for wrongful termination; part of his lawsuit was tossed out in March 2013 (see "Lawsuit" section below).[dated info] Hester departed the show after Season 3.
- Barry Weiss - "The Collector" (Seasons 1-4): Weiss and his brother owned a successful produce company, until he retired. While Weiss is a lifelong antiques collector, he had never bought a storage unit until his friend and Storage Wars executive producer and narrator Thom Beers suggested he join the show. Barry is the best financed of the group and by his own admission is the only one not in it for financial profit but to find interesting single items. He is interested in finding collectibles. He is known for the unusual tactics he brings to the auctions, such as bringing in psychics to help him figure out a locker's contents, odd disguises and outfits he sometimes wears, attaching a camera to a remote control helicopter to look inside a locker, and bringing in a pair of fake German attorneys to distract the other buyers. On June 25, 2013, it was rumored that Barry will not return to the show for the fifth season,. In February 2014 A&E announced Barry's own show to be titled Barry'd Treasure to premiere March 18.
Other featured buyers
- Bill Archer (Season 1): Archer had recently left his previous job to become a storage-unit buyer at the time of his first appearance. Archer only appeared full-time in one episode in the first season, which was the episode "Young with the Gun". He has been seen in the background since his initial appearance.
- Mark Balelo (Seasons 2-4): Balelo owned a liquidation, wholesale, and distribution company, and an auction house, and also used to own a gaming store called "The Game Exchange" from 2009-2012. He was known for bringing large sums of money to auctions, as much as US$50,000 at a time, and overpricing Barry to US$1,500 and Dave to almost US$10,000. He also earned the name "Rico Suave" for his tendency to dress in fancy clothes at storage auctions. He appeared three times during the second season, five times in the third season and three times in the fourth season, filmed shortly before his death.
- Nabila Haniss (Season 2-present): Haniss received attention for purchasing a storage unit that contained items belonging to socialite Paris Hilton. She appeared five times in the second season, once in the third season, and once in the fourth season.
- Jeff Jarred (Season 3): Jarred is the owner of the "It's New To You" antique and thrift store, that he runs with his daughter in Burbank, California. In the past, he has often fought with Dan Dotson, after accusing him of using sneaky tactics at auctions in order to allow regular bidders to win units. However, he and Dotson decided to make peace in the third season. He appeared six times during the third season.
- Mark Compers (Season 3): Compers is a self-employed antiques and collectibles dealer, who appeared in one episode in the third season. Although he failed to secure a unit, he showed willing and turned up to the auction with a substantial amount of cash.
- Herb Brown and Mike Karlinger (Season 3-present): Herb and Mike are brothers-in-law. The brothers do not own any type of store, but they said they do want to try to obtain one. They have appeared three times in the third season, in the episodes "Portrait of the Gambler", "Nobody's Vault but Mine" and "Still Nobody's Vault but Mine", and three times in season four, in the episodes "Old Tricks, New Treats", "Orange You Glad Dan Sold It Again?" and "That's My Jerry!". Brown and Karlinger first pranked Dave Hester as the tank top twins in the episode "Jurassic Bark", their first appearance on the show.
- Ivy Calvin (Season 3-present): Calvin owns the 5,000 square feet "Grandma's Attic" secondhand thrift store in Palmdale, California. He first made an appearance in the episode "The Big Boy vs. The Heavyweights". He also turned up to the vault auctions in the finale episodes of series three and was introduced as a new attendee. Although he has been in operation less than 18 months, Calvin was able to spend a substantial amount of money. He has also been seen in the episodes "The Big Boy vs. The Heavyweights", Nobody's Vault But Mine", "Still Nobody's Vault But Mine", "All's Well That Urns Well", "The Monster Hash", "Old Tricks, New Treats", "The French Job", "That's My Jerry", "The Storage Buyer In You", "Barry Doubtfire", and "Super Bros. Shuffle".
- The Harris Brothers (Mark and Matt) (Season 3-present): The Harris Brothers, who are identical twins, first appeared in "May the Vaults be with You" as an appraiser for Barry when he went to get something apprasied. Since then, they have bid with the rest of the cast. The Harris Brothers first bid with the rest of the cast in the episode "The Kook, The Chief, His Son, and The Brothers". The self-proclaimed "Kings of Swag", the Harris brothers specialize in Hollywood memorabilia. They have a company called WOW! Creations, which specializes in celebrity gift bags. They have appeared one episode in season three, "The Kook, The Chief, His Son, and The Brothers", and five times in season four in the episodes "Oysters on the Half Plate", "The Shrining", "The French Job", "There's No Place Like Homeland", and "Total Wine Domination".
- Rene Nezhoda and Casey Lloyd (Season 4-present): Rene and Casey have a 7,000 square feet store called "Bargain Hunters" located in San Diego, California. They made their first appearance in the episode "Orange You Glad Dan Sold It Again?". They also appear in other season four episodes "Barry's Angels", "There's No Place Like Homeland", "Total Wine Domination", "Fear and Loathing in Placentia", and "Battle of the Brows".
Other cast members
- Dan and Laura Dotson (Season 1-present): The husband and wife auctioneer team run American Auctioneers, and administer the storage auctions. Dan has been a professional auctioneer since 1974. He is the primary auctioneer, occasionally giving the reins to Laura. Laura's famous catchphrase is (end of the auction) "...Don't Forget To Pay The Lady!". Dan's grandfather was apprenticed as an auctioneer by Detmen Mitchell in 1945.
- Earl and Johan Graham (Season 4-present): Storage auctions are new to this father and daughter team of auctioneers, who mainly work cattle and farm auctions. Earl and Johan have appeared in six episodes in season four: "The Monster Hash", "The Shrining", "Barry's Angels", "That's My Jerry!", "Total Wine Domination" and "Fear and Loathing in Placentia".
- Thom Beers: The executive producer and narrator of the show, Beers provides a quick explanation of the show's premise at the beginning, and does a recap of the featured buyers' profits or losses at the end of each episode. He has stated that the series avoids delving into back stories of the lockers' original owners because; "All you see is misery there, and I didn't want to trade on that".
Critical response was mixed, with Mary McNamara of the Los Angeles Times calling Storage Wars "a strangely uplifting show — hope being one of the many things one can apparently find in an abandoned storage unit," and Neil Genzlinger of The New York Times called the series "an especially entertaining addition to the genre." Brian Lowry of Variety said that "'Wars' should have been left in storage, indefinitely." Writing for Slate, Troy Patterson gave a mixed review, referring to the series as "trash TV" as well as "trivial and magnetic." Ellen Gray of the Philadelphia Daily News suggested "if there's an acquisitive bone in your body, you should probably steer clear".
The first season premiere episode drew 2.1 million viewers and the show was A&E's top-rated non-fiction show for 2010, with an average of 2.4 million viewers. The season two premiere consisted of back-to-back new episodes of the show; the second show drew 5.1 million total viewers and was the highest rating for an episode of a series in A&E history. The combined season premiere outperformed competing original episodes of NBC Love in the Wild and ABC's Primetime Nightline.
Concerns about authenticity
While some have speculated that some of the units have been stocked by producers, an A&E publicist said: "There is no staging involved. The items uncovered in the storage units are the actual items featured on the show". Executive producer Thom Beers has stated that the vast majority of the storage lockers investigated during production contain nothing of interest and therefore do not appear in the final show.
In December 2012, Dave Hester filed a lawsuit against A&E and Original Productions, claiming that the producers staged entire units, planted items in lockers after having them appraised weeks in advance, and funneled cash to weaker teams to buy lockers they could not have otherwise afforded. The suit claims that Hester and other cast members met with network officials to express concerns that those actions were in violation of federal law intended to prevent viewers from being deceived when watching a show involving intellectual skills.
In January 2013, A&E responded by stating that its composition of the show is covered by the First Amendment, and that Hester's claims do not apply; the network also said the Communications Act of 1934 is inapplicable to cable television, which did not exist in 1934, and that the format of Storage Wars involves no "chance", "intellectual knowledge" or "intellectual skill" and so is not a game show. A&E also stated that there are "notable inconsistencies in [Hester's] exaggerated self-portrait", referring to his claims of value on the items he finds in lockers.
In March 2013, A&E won a partial victory in the suit when a federal judge tossed out Hester's claim of unfair business practices, calling the show "expressive free speech", and stated that his claim of wrongful termination was not specific enough. Hester was ordered to pay the legal fees for A&E.
On September 3, 2013, Hester had one of his claims approved by Los Angeles Superior Court judge Michael Johnson. The court ruled that Hester "can move forward with the wrongful termination portion of his wide-ranging lawsuit against A&E and the producers of Storage Wars."
- Auction chant
- Auction Hunters, a similar series on Spike
- Storage Hunters, a similar series on truTV
- Storage Wars: Texas, a spin-off series on A&E
- Storage Wars: New York, a second spin-off series on A&E
- Storage Wars: Canada, a third spin-off series on OLN
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