There are a few reality type shows that members of my family watch from time to time and so, sharing the living room, I've watched parts of them as well. Together they have given me some conundrums to ponder. I'm going to discuss some of them in the next few posts. I'll describe the programs as overseas readers of this blog may have been spared them. (oops, I mean deprived of them.)
The first is called American Pickers. A pair of friendly, good guy types drive around the United States and Canada in a pick-up truck with the goal of buying antiques, memorabilia and what others might consider junk. Their goal is to re-sell it and make a profit. What I've found interesting are the things that people have kept--for years. Old license plates, old metal cigarette containers, old Coke signs. After 50 or 100 years they all seem to be valuable or at least have value. The two pickers dicker and haggle and are successful about half the time. Many times people can't bear to let go of what they have been holding onto for years. Sometimes entire rooms, even barns are given over to storing these items, in various states of order.
The second program is called Storage Wars. In this reality show, various 'colourful' individuals have the hobby/business of attending the auctions of the contents of storage lockers which have had the fate being abandoned by their owners. Months of rental fees are owing. These auctions take place all over the country. Now, you might think that if someone paid to store something the items that are being stored would have some, even considerable value. After all, storage costs can amount to several thousand dollars a year. If you found yourself not able to pay the storage unit cost, wouldn't it make sense to remove your belongings before falling into arrears? I can see if you've won the lottery you might say to heck with that storage unit, but failing that you could at least give the key to a friend or relative. Unless . . . what is in the unit isn't worth the accrued storage fees. But if that is the case, why would complete strangers, who are only interested in profit, bid hundreds, even thousands of dollars, to purchase the contents of that same unit. What are they looking for? Straight cash or jewellery is always good but they also want the kind of items that the American Pickers hanker for.
I must confess what causes me some aggravation is how the Pickers and the Storage people gleefully announce the value of the items they come across with complete confidence that they will be able obtain their price and thereby make their profit. I have seen sofas abandoned by the curb, awaiting the city disposal crew, just as nice as the ones that have a pronounced $200 value.
No doubt the program has increased the profitability of storage unit companies, probably so much so that the rental fee from paying customers is the lesser part of their profit compared to what groups of treasure hunters bid up to pay for abandoned ones.