Comparing A&E’s Storage Wars TV Show to the Domain Industry

Have you seen the new TV show on A&E called Storage Wars? It’s a show that follows several people who are active bidders on storage units that have not been paid for by their owners and are auctioned to the highest bidder.

When a storage unit defaults after a certain non-payment period, a small auction is held outside the unit. A small but active group of people have 5 minutes to look into the unit without touching anything or opening any boxes. They need to evaluate the unit based on what they see and decide how much to bid. Units must be paid for in cash at the conclusion of the day’s auctions.

Sound like something with which you’re familiar?

This is almost like the expiring domain industry (almost). People get lists of expiring domain names, which they analyze using a number of tools. They also have the ability to look within their own portfolio and past experience to guess what traffic and revenue might be like. The almost part is because unlike storage units, parking companies and maybe registrars are able to see what the traffic is like, while the contents inside the storage units should be unknown by all until they are unlocked and opened.

There’s another strong comparison between the people who bid on storage units that is similar to domain investors, and equally annoying to me. At the end of the show, they go over their finds from the auctions that were covered. They meet with experts to discuss the “value” of what they bought.

I always find it amusing when people talk about their $5,000 domain names that they bought for $500, when they should know very well getting $5,000 could take years or a considerable effort – if that ever happens. Similarly, the storage unit buyers talk about how their XYZ is worth $X,XXX, although it’s very likely it will sit in their consignment shop for a number of years. People have the tendency to value their property much more than reality should dictate.

All in all, Storage Wars is a very neat show, and I wouldn’t be surprised if some domain investors (ahem, Rick Latona) get in that business, too 🙂

It actually looks pretty fun… until you realize that you’re bidding on other people’s crap and then actually have to do something with it if you win. I think I will stick to domain names.

Elliot Silver
Elliot Silver
About The Author: Elliot Silver is an Internet entrepreneur and publisher of Elliot is also the founder and President of Top Notch Domains, LLC, a company that has closed eight figures in deals. Please read the Terms of Use page for additional information about the publisher, website comment policy, disclosures, and conflicts of interest. Reach out to Elliot: Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn


  1. I have been buying storage units in Ohio for 10 years and reselling the stuff on ebay. This cable TV show is a joke. About half the storage owners pick the gold before anything gets auctioned. Units are often staged to look better than they are. You are more likely to get bed bugs, as compared to hidden treasures. Maybe California is really paved in gold, but here in the Midwest buying storage is nothing like you see on TV. I feel sorry for new buyers coming to auctions in hopes of striking it rich.

    Many storage companies will take partial payments, then the tenant gets in his unit and picks the good stuff, and leaves the crap to get auctioned. Buyers are suckered all the time. Do you honestly think someone leaves a $ 5,000 coin collection, when he is $ 500 behind on rent.

    If it sounds to good to be true, it probably is.

    • @ Dave

      I don’t know that business, but there have been a number of domain names I’ve bought in the last year on NameJet for under $2,000 that I’ve sold for much more than that. Some people don’t realize the value of what they have and/or they wouldn’t know where or how to sell it if they did.

  2. @ Dave

    “Do you honestly think someone leaves a $ 5,000 coin collection, when he is $ 500 behind on rent.”

    Do you think someone would sell a million dollar Picasso at a yard sale for $5? Same situation here. They might not know what they’re sitting on

    But I agree with you that it would be very rare to find anything of value in these storages places. Especially if, as you say, the owners sweep the place for valuables prior to the auction

  3. one of main players in the show is buddy of mine…been associated with him for past 15yrs. They definitely buy lockers that lose money. I think the show is AE;s biggest show so far ratings wise. He also said tons of editing.

    i thought of the domain industry too:) also maybe like the poker craze where the old pros just smile at newbies coming to the tables in droves.

  4. It will always be the case that one person’s trash is another’s treasure – further, there will always be Picasso’s/Minh vases in yard sales until everyone running a yard sale knows every Picasso and Ming vase not currently accounted for in collections.

    Personally I would be wary of buying anything site unseen – it could be the case that you’re now the proud new owner of the aforementioned bed-bugs and responsible to the city for clean-up costs, or some other liability. Id say for every Picasso changing hands there are millions of bed bugs and other wastes of money. This is gambling – fun, but not a business.

    As for comparison to the domain industry I think there are a few passing similarities, the biggest one being that unexpected liability possibility. Domains dont need storing but they do need to be secured and managed, and they can depreciate relative to say their hyphened counterparts depending on the actions of others.

    I feel that 5 minutes checking a domain name can give a fairly good idea if its likely to be worth more or less than its asking price /reg fee. Knowing it is an exact match, high search non TM word, perhaps in use before, with or without existing backlinks/PR, age of initial reg, previous content, lots of likely end-buyers etc etc – if all those things (plus a few more factors) come back green then go for it.

  5. its a very intersting show – I am actually starting to get into it locally. I already attend estate sales and other auctions to purchase vintage toys and other collectibles. There is money to be made everywhere – it just depends on how badly you want it and how much you are willing to learn. I have personally made some nice cash off vintage toys I have found in the past.

  6. What a bunch of bullshit. a 12k baby piano? a piece of junk little car. The worst guy is that cheap slizzy old guy, This show is soooo stupid.

  7. I’ve been around the mini storage sales for 21 years and I can tell you for sure the crap on t.v. is an absolute joke! On a good buy you can double your money and others, many others, you burn 99% of what you buy. But people can make a modest living doing this stuff. If the t.v. people want to know what it’s like in the real world of “junking” come on down to the south. Alabama to be excact feel free to contact me any time.

  8. People can die, or just forget they had anything in storage… .. plenty of reasons why they would leave 5000$ coins in a 500$ locker…

    Side note thou… watching storage wars now and the dave guy keeps saying “i only bid because it was him”… isn’t that bid shilling aka illegal? to raise the price on an auction just to raise the price…?

  9. I have a friend since early childhood that is the manager of a large storage facility in L.A. County. I was pretty suprised to learn that “Dave” approached my friend with a large amount of cash to view the lockers that were in default. I will not elaborate any further, I know longer wonder why “Dave is consistantly winning the “Golden Units”

  10. My friend has been buying storage bins for twenty years.I just called him yesterday,he was upstate New York at a storage auction.Guess what? the show was there wanting to do another season on the east coast.It is all staged,they put the items in the bins to make it all look good and of course for the ratings.In twenty years he only got a handful of good items.Most of the stuff is junk and you have to take everything in the bin,junk included.

  11. I love the show but it is unrealistic. I love going to auctions too, if anyone is interested check out for great listings!

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