WDAY: The News Leader

Published June 21, 2012, 10:38 PM

Real life "storage war" brings in treasure hunters

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) -- It may look like a scene from the hit TV show "Storage Wars," but this is no show.

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) -- It may look like a scene from the hit TV show "Storage Wars," but this is no show.

A storage auction tonight brought out hundreds of people looking to take part in a real-life treasure hunt.

The rules at this auction are quite similar to those on the show Storage Wars: bidders have just five minutes to take a peak before placing their bid.

Joel Sullivan has been to his fair share of storage auctions. He looks for the right item at the right price to put in his antique store Dead Man's Hand in Casselton.

Joel Sullivan - Dead Man's Hand, Casselton: "I'm looking for mainly the collectible end things, anything automotive."

The catch - or maybe the fun of it all, is not having and idea what's inside. People may end up with junk, worth less than what they paid or could possibly walk away with priceless items like jewels, antiques, or paintings. Sullivan says he only bids if he knows he is sure to get a gem.

Joel Sullivan: "I'm not a speculator to guess what's in there mystery box."

This antiquer likens himself the most to Barry Weiss on the TV show Storage Wars. The most he has spent on a locker was $400 and the least was $50. He says his strategies are what make him successful.

Joel: "Right now I'm making money on them, but you can loose it just as fast if you are gambling on what's in the mystery bag."

Bruce Pantzke is the owner of Security Self Storage. Auctions are held once the facility has enough units that people have abandoned or just stopped paying rent on.

Bruce Pantzke - Security Self Storage: "Anything from brand new coffins to antique boat motors."

Auctions help move business along, and Pantzke credits the storage wars right out of Hollywood.

Bruce Pantzke: "The sales that we have quadrupled, if not better, so it brings a lot of people out to our sales."

As for Sullivan, he didn't see any eye catchers today, but does have some advice for any new comers.

Joel Sullivan: "Set a limit for yourself on each unit and stick to it."

There were 7 units and one car sold at this auction. The most expensive unit went for $325, and the cheapest at $45. The car sold for $475.