Storage facilities have been experiencing an all-time high in auction attendance in the last few years thanks to the popularity of auction and resale reality shows. Eager treasure-hunters have been showing up in droves to auctions, often looking for huge profits like those shown on TV. Of course, people familiar with the industry know all too well that these treasure-seekers are unlikely to make much profit, and the high bids made by newbies have been damaging the bottom lines of serious buyers across the country.
Where auctions would once draw just a handful of well-seasoned veterans, facilities across the country began to see turnouts of dozens or even hundreds of people. Standard bids on units increased many-fold as newbies attempted to cash in on hidden treasures that didn't exist, and hefty auction attendance created logistical nightmares for facility owners and bidders. Indeed, the only people who benefited from the over-priced auctions were the auctioneers themselves.
Fortunately, there may be an end in sight to the madness. Thanks to the allegations by Dave Hester about the faked auctions on Storage Wars, more lay-people are learning about the disparity between the reality and fantasy of the storage auction industry. Now that would-be bidders are thinking twice about auction attendance, things may finally start returning to normal for professionals in the industry.
Indeed, Hester's allegations have raised plenty of questions about reality television in general. Even if he loses the lawsuit against the network, the publicity given to the suit has led many people and journalists to take a critical look at similar reality shows like American Pickers and Pawn Stars. Although many people in the resale business have expressed doubts about the realism of these programs for years, raising these questions through public media is a huge step toward potentially major changes in both the resale and television industries.
It's unlikely that auction hunting will ever return entirely to the “good old days” remembered by some seasoned veterans. Thanks to the Internet, auctions are too accessible to be a truly well-guarded secret, and most people are now aware of the industry whether they participate in it or not. Most likely, the most starry-eyed newbies will drift away while more serious newcomers stick with the industry and begin building careers or lucrative hobbies.
Even before the news of Hester's lawsuit broke, some auction hunters began reporting changes in auction attendance. According to discussion on StorageAuctionForums.com, attendance has been on a slow decline. While many auctions still draw deep-pocketed newbies, plenty of others have boasted small turn-outs of regular serious bidders. It's possible that this trend may continue as the industry stabilizes. Things may never be the same as they once were, but the possibility of making a real living from resale without over-inflated bids seems more realistic than it has been in a long time.