FOREST CITY — Treasure hunters inspired by the television show “Storage Wars” gathered recently at North Iowa Storage in search of the hidden treasures.
“I have seen the TV show and I was interested to see what the units would go for,” said Curt Thompson of Forest City. “My wife and I enjoy going to flea markets but we have never been to a storage unit sale before.”
The format for the sale in Forest City was similar to what viewers watch on TV. Bidders get five minutes to look at a unit from the outside without taking a close look at the unit’s individual contents.
An auction follows with everything inside the unit going to the highest bidder. Units at the sale in Forest City were bid on by a number of people, but the owner of North Iowa Storage, Vaughn Drewes, said the process in real life isn’t as “Hollywood” as the TV show appears.
“It is not a fun situation to hold a storage unit sale,” he said. “We do it because we have to.”
A sale is normally held to satisfy a lien for an unpaid rental agreement and on that day, one was held for six units.
North Iowa Storage has held auctions in the past, but they followed a different format. Instead of selling an entire unit to one bidder, individual items were sold piece by piece. The leftover items would then be taken to a landfill.
“Having a sale this way simplifies things and makes it a lot easier,” Drewes said.
Attendees of the sale were also pleased because the new format more closely resembled what they watch during prime-time television.
“I came because I was interested in watching an auction in person,” said Todd Farland. “I wish I had the luck like some of the guys on TV. Sometimes they can make quite a bit of money.”
The atmosphere during the auction was low-key compared to what is seen on television.
“I thought everyone was very calm,” said Adam Torkelson. “It wasn’t as dramatic as what you see on TV because people didn’t get into bidding wars.”
Unit winner was Marv Haugland. It was also his 75th birthday.
“I do flea markets and hopefully there is something in here I could use,” Haugland said. “Sometimes there is, sometimes there’s not.”
Haugland bought a storage unit this winter and thought he would take a chance on another one. While sorting through his newly-purchased items after the sale, he pointed to a set of antlers and said they would be valuable.
“I watch the TV show once in a while,” Haugland said. “It’s mostly reruns that I see.”
The veteran at flea markets said the turnout for the sale was really good and attributed some of the interest to the TV show. But, Haugland was there for a good time.
“It’s just something to do,” he said. “I am celebrating my birthday with a Bud Light and a storage auction.”
Sam Jefson is a reporter for the Forest City Summit, another Lee Enterprises newspaper.