By Cortez Fields
“Storage Wars” has been on television for more than nine years, capturing the attention of audiences everywhere with its unique characters and fun storage treasure finds. While the series captures the popular group of bidders in their extraordinary finds across different locations in California, there are still some bidding wars in Lake Havasu City.
Darrell Sheets, or “The Gambler” as he’s called on the popular “Storage Wars”, attended a Havasu auction Saturday at Havastorage, and RiverScene Magazine was there to cover it.
To The Highest Bidder
Multiple storage units were up for grabs Saturday, and the auction drew plenty of bidders from Lake Havasu City. Despite the diverse audience, every unit was bid on the same way: Prospective treasure hunters had 5 minutes to see the inside of the unit, but they could not touch anything. Many came prepared with flashlights to look into the depths of the unit. Once the bidding started, the auctioneer called out a starting bid, sometimes at just $1, and they worked up from there. The bids can get competitive, with many outbidding each other for a promising unit.
The auctioneer (who requested to remain anonymous), has been doing it for years.
“I’ve been doing this for over nine years,” he said. “I originally started as an auctioneer after my business partner passed away. Before that, I was buying for 21 years.”
He said he tries to make every auction fun. His past experience with buying units led him to purchase a storage facility himself.
No one knows the profitability of lockers better than the storage warrior, Darrell Sheets.
A Storage Warrior in Havasu
Sheets, the celebrity and successful businessman from the “Storage Wars” has been going to auctions for more than 40 years. He caught the bug when a friend dragged him to an auction.
“My friend took me to an auction, and I turned $200 into $1,600. I was hooked after that,” Sheets said. With a keen eye for value and years of experience, Sheets is currently the only “Storage Wars” cast member with the highest gain on a locker. On the show, he bought a locker for $3,600 only to find priceless comic books, Picasso paintings and more valuables that amounted to a $300,000 profit. His method to find good lockers, he says, comes from trial and error.
“I’ve been doing this for years. Just years of buying crud and finding good stuff.”
Even with his eye for good deals and potential profit gains, Sheets was friendly with the other bidders. His demeanor seems to be right on par with Havasu’s storage auction community, which he said is more welcoming than competitive.
A Seller’s Community
“This is a social event, and it’s a nice to place to get together. It’s not competitive at all, we all know each other,” Scott Goodman said of the event.
Like many at Havastorage Saturday, he has been buying units for years and making profits selling whatever valuables he finds in them. Even with seasoned veterans like Goodman and Sheets bidding, everyone seemed to get along. Sheets was especially friendly with his fellow storage hunters last Saturday. He is also now a full-time Havasu resident.
Much like Sheets, each bidder has their own reason for entering the business. Sheri and Scott Breitenstein, for instance, have going to storage auctions for five years.
“We first started when we moved out to Lake Havasu City. We got hooked after we spent under $100 dollars on a unit and made over $3,000 on it.”
The couple is originally from Vancouver, Wash. They use storage hunting to supplement their income. Sheri Breitenstein typically sells their finds on Ebay, or has a massive garage sale for the rest of the goods. While the Breitensteins are fairly experienced, some storage hunters, like Rich and Jonah Deleye.
Originally from California, the father and son duo, have been going to auctions for three years. Father – Rich Deleye thought of frequenting storage hunts looking for deals, and son, Jonah, is a skateboarder when he’s not chasing lockers with his dad. The family of bargain hunters say they have never lost money on any unit, but have yet to find anything extraordinary in a locker. However, the Deleyes are still hopeful, purchasing two lockers on Saturday.
The lowest-selling unit auctioned for only $5, and the highest unit sold for $800 dollars. Each storage locker contained a bevy of different items. The Deleye’s first locker proved to hold plenty of DVDs, BluRays, and collectibles. While this auction didn’t seem to turn up any remarkable finds thus far, many other storage warriors had found treasures in past auctions.
The Breitensteins have found some extraordinary valuables in storage lockers in Lake Havasu.
“We found everything from a human skull to a live hand grenade,” Scott Breitenstein told us. “We had to call the police for that one.” The two had also found two World War II maps of Iwo Jima in a locker.
The auctioneer said he found a 1979 Trans Am in one locker that he bought for $700.
Anyone Can be A Storage Warrior
Havastorage auctions storage units that have been abandoned by owners on Saturdays.
An abandoned unit is designated after the storage renter has received three legal notices by registered mail and given plenty of time to redeem their items, up to five minutes before the auction begins. Storage renters may also bid at the action on their own items.
With a nice community of fellow bidders and the potential of finding something valuable, it may be worth the risk to become a Havasu Storage Warrior.