Everyone loves to get a great deal. Epic haggling at the car dealership becomes a right of passage, with bragging rights given to the friend who saved the most.
All across the country, people get up in the pre-dawn hours of the weekend just to scour the yard sales for the perfect find. Finding a $30 Armani suit at the Goodwill is enough to make the right person an Instagram star for the day.
The only thing better than finding a great deal is getting rich quick. However, if you can do both at the same time, that’s the pure American dream. That’s the secret of the success of the reality show Storage Wars, and why American audiences just can’t get enough.
The lure is simple: various buyers compete on storage units that have gone unpaid by participating in an auction with other buyers.
However, there's a catch— they are not allowed to see what’s in the storage unit that they are buying. If they play it wrong, they may end up stuck with a box full of dirty socks and some worthless velvet paintings of sad clowns.
If they don’t bid high enough, though, they could lose out on a unit that contains an actual pirate’s chest of priceless ancient gold, which actually happened.
However, even these veterans of the deal have a set of rules that they are bound to abide by in order to be successful buyers.
With that said, here are the 15 Crazy Rules The Cast Of Storage Wars Has To Follow.
15 Don’t Anger The Auctioneer
"Don't anger the auctioneer" is actual advice from one of the most famous buyers himself, Barry Weiss. As he puts it, the auctioneers pretty much run the show, and if you are rude or anger them in any way, they may mysteriously not hear your bid or purposely drive the bidding higher just to spite you.
A good-natured ribbing is not out of the question either, which may set off the younger or less experienced buyers.
It’s also just good business. If buyers intend on making this a legitimate enterprise for themselves, they would be wise to make friends with the guy in charge.
A little respect goes a long way, an even a slight edge can be helpful in winning the bid.
14 Don’t Talk About The Bad Things That Happen In Your Private Life
Back in 2014, the larger-than-life auctioneer Dan Dotson suffered a rare double aneurysm, an event that most people wouldn’t survive.
His doctors gave him a slim chance of making it out alive. After surgery, Dotson did make it out alive and was even well enough to return to his role on the show.
Interestingly enough, though Storage Wars glossed over what had happened to him, it quickly changed the subject and fans noticed it didn’t seem to bring up any plot lines related to Dan’s miraculous recovery.
Perhaps this is to be expected— in a show were fans become addicted to the thrill of the treasure hunt, producers possibly thought that further news of Dotson's condition would have been considered too much of a bummer.
13 Understand That Some Of The Lockers Have Staged “Finds”
There have been allegations that a few of the auctioned off “finds” have been pre-set by producers of the show. Fans of the show swear that this is true, and a few of the cast members like Dave Hester have indicated that they have their suspicions as well.
From an entertainment perspective, it makes total sense.
One simply can’t make a TV show where they only discover lost “treasure” every once in awhile. There’s not much “wow” factor in a unit full of worthless beanie babies and rusty metal rebar. At least some finds have to be peppered with thrilling “wins” to keep the viewer interest.
However, there’s no indication that the buyers truly know what they are bidding on.
The possibility that some of these units are deliberately planted with a real prize probably drives up the bidding.
12 Keep Pay Disputes Private
In 2014, Dave Hester attempted to sue A&E for $750,000 in a highly publicized wrongful termination lawsuit, claiming that A&E fired him from season four after he revealed that some of the storage locker finds were rigged.
Though he got the OK from the judge to move forward with his case, he was instructed to pay for a portion of A&E’s legal fees, which amounted to $122,692.
Though it looked like the suit would continue, Hester eventually settled and was even hired back on the show for the remaining seasons.
Some might argue that had he kept the dispute quiet he might have been able to negotiate his return to the show without paying out for both the expensive A&E legal fees and his own lawyer.
11 No fighting
Things can get a little heated when people are bidding thousands of dollars with their own money. That’s why the auctioneer’s job is so important, keeping the bids straight and moderating with no prejudice for one side or the other.
However, even auctioneers sometimes make mistakes.
When the fan-favorite auctioneer Dan Dotson accidentally missed a bid, the producers suggested that Dave Hester inform him of his error.
Though this was probably done to correct a wrong, no doubt the producers knew that this would lead to highly entertaining drama.
Sure enough, Dan ignored him, so Dave threw a punch at him and a brawl ensued, with Dan’s wife Laura getting involved.
In the end, Dave was kicked off of the set and production was halted for the day, but the season continued with everyone still involved.
10 Avoid Gossipy Tweets
Brandon Sheets appeared on the first nine seasons of Storage Wars and often appeared alongside his more famous father, Darrell Sheets. After season nine, A&E released him from the show, citing budget cuts.
Sheets took to Twitter and set off a mini tweetstorm. He claimed, “I have bigger plans for myself than to be degraded by a show and people who simply do not care about others and their quality of life.”
He later tweeted, “Don’t get me wrong I am grateful for the opportunity I have already had on #StorageWars I just wish I was treated more like a person.”
Would he have been able to negotiate a return to the show, like Hester, if he'd kept his Twitter fingers quiet? We'll never know.
9 Don’t Start On Borrowed Money
Buyer Darrell Sheets dropped this piece of wisdom, which seems like good ole' fashioned common sense.
"One of the first things you better do is not go out there on borrowed money—make sure it's your own money. Otherwise, you're already startin’ in debt,” he said.
This is classic advise that has been around at least since the Great Depression, where buying stocks “on margin” led to many losing their entire fortunes to the great stock market crash of 1929.
Though people are playing with much smaller stakes here, it wouldn’t take long to lose a lot of money if the $1000 bid you just won only ended up reaping a bunch of cardboard boxes and an old freezer full of rotten fish.
8 Don’t Tell People You’re New
As a buyer, Darrell Sheets also recommends against telling anybody that you’re new on the storage auction circuit, even if you are.
“You don’t want to stand in the crowd and tell everybody you’re new,” he said.
Barry Weiss adds, “there’s a certain hazing process that all the new bidders go through.”
As for almost any kind of auction, newbies are prone to make a few errors. Getting aggressive and driving the price too high is one of them.
Sheets may also be implying that If you’re the new kid on the block and you try to muscle in on established bidders, then you shouldn’t be surprised if they find a way to turn it around on you.
7 Abandon All Sympathy For Former Locker Owners
Make no mistake, Storage Wars is built on a ruthless business model. For whatever reason, former owners of the storage units held these random objects and precious keepsakes in storage and were willing to pay for them.
At some point, they couldn’t keep up with their payments and lost their stored possessions to the owners of the storage facility.
To add insult to injury, total strangers who win the bid on their unit get to paw through and keep the personal items that they had tried so hard to keep safe.
No doubt, buyers must put these ethical matters aside when bidding, or they would break down in a moral crisis.
They seem OK with it. When they win a particularly sweet prize, we can’t imagine that it bothers their conscience.
6 Think Twice Before Deciding It’s Trash
You can’t judge a book by its cover, and likewise, you can’t immediately judge the loot inside a storage unit at first glance.
Sure, at first glance it looks like a worthless pile of newspapers, but in that dusty stack on newsprint is a paper in excellent condition that announces the passing of Elvis Presley. That little treasure went for $90,000 at auction.
Another example is a mystery lump that was hiding underneath a tarp. When they cleared it away in Storage Wars, they found a rare BMW Isetta mini-car underneath, valued between 3K and 4K.
Sometimes an old busted TV is just an old busted TV, but it's easy to overlook something that might have collectible value or miss an obvious piece of treasure just because 1970's microwave is sitting on top of it.
You just have to scour every inch.
5 Make Sure You Trademark Your Catchphrases
It’s weird, but people on successful reality shows often become known for their dumb little catchphrases.
Once again in the spotlight, Dave Hester sued rapper Trey Songz about his right to use the catchphrase “YUUUP!”
Songz had sent him a cease and desist letter claiming that it was his signature phrase. Hester, on the other hand, said he had used it first and actually tried to trademark it three times before Songz had made the claim.
Both stars had the phrase on merchandise that they were selling, and for a while, it looked like it was going to court.
In 2012, the two settled the lawsuit, though they never revealed exactly what their agreement was.
Silly catchphrases can produce not so silly income.
4 Like Most Reality Shows, Much Of It Is Probably Scripted
It’s no secret that most reality shows have at least some of their lines partially scripted— or if not scripted, highly planned.
Sometimes, even when a spontaneous moment happens, the directors will want to catch the “same” moment again from a different angle, or perhaps with slightly different wording.
Also, occasionally producers goad on a confrontation between two stars that are at odds, hoping to catch some fireworks on camera.
Unlike real reality, TV reality gives those who are filming it multiple chances to craft a moment. Storage Wars is no different.
Dave Hester hinted at this when he claimed several of the treasures and finds were rigged, and other fans swear that the infamous fight between Dan Dotson and Hester would never have happened if producers hadn't egged it on.
3 Don’t Expect Your Spin-Off To Be A Hit
Original Storage Wars cast members Jarrod Schulz and Brandi Passante formed their own spin-off show on A&E called Brandi and Jarrod: Married to the Job.
Mostly unrelated to Storage Wars, the show followed the lives of the couple in their remodeled house as Jarrod struggled to decide whether or not to ask her to marry him.
If the plot line sounds a little thin, it’s probably because it is.
Though fans of Storage Wars seemed initially excited about the spin-off starring two of the most popular personalities from the show, ratings were underwhelming.
The show was canceled in 2014 after only eight episodes. Perhaps fans thought that playing house is just not as exciting as potentially finding buried treasure.
2 Eccentricity pays off
Catchphrases, an unusual or attractive look, as well as rivalries and big egos are entertaining on the small screen. Stars of the show know that amplifying the most outrageous parts of themselves is really good for TV.
In Storage Wars: Texas, Mary Padian made a big splash with her beautiful face, diminutive stature, and giggly voice. Contrasted against the other male characters on the show, she stands out.
Another example is Ursula Stolff from Storage Wars: Canada. As a well-spoken woman with a Ph.D., she often appeared at auctions with her pet Chinchilla in hand.
If you’re going to be on TV and just be yourself, it helps if the real you stands out anyway. If nothing else, for buyers, it will help get the bid.
1 If Someone Defames You – Go After Them
It doesn’t take long for people to realize the drawing power of your show, and if they can capitalize on it, they’ll figure out a way. Unfortunately, they don’t always do it in a nice or legal way.
Racy film distributor Hunter Moore posted a highly explicit video that he claimed was Storage Wars star Brandi Passante in intimate situations.
Upset, Brandi maintained the video was “fabricated” and sued Moore in court for 2.5 million dollars.
Though she eventually won the lawsuit, the judge only awarded her $750. They also said she was also entitled to receive "reasonable attorney fees” from the defendant as a result of his trademark infringement.
The court also prevented Moore from distributing the video further, citing “reputational damage.”
A successful show can make you a target, but Brandi definitely fights back.
Can you think of any other rules that the cast of Storage Wars have to follow? Sound off in the comments!