If you're not familiar with the Spike TV's Auction Hunters -- learn to love it. The show follows the exploits of Ton and Allen as they prowl storage unit auctions across the country -- taking a spin of the wheel by bidding on the unknown boxed contents, hoping it will harvest such lucrative treasure as Abe Lincoln's stove top hat or a really elaborate ergonomic office chair. Think of Auction Hunters as Treasures in the Attic meets Pawn Stars with a little Price is Right thrills thrown in for good measure.
And I got a chance to hang out with the guys as part of a story for The Smoking Jacket.
Here's a taste of the auction hunting thrills-and-spills in Las Vegas as the show's dynamic duo sifted through a storage container looking for hidden treasure:
"Are you feeling it?" Allen says as he pries a crate open. Like kids on Christmas, the Auction Hunters start sifting through the stuff: old photo albums taken from happier times, a high school diploma, a medical bathroom box, crutches, a baby stroller. Hopefully one of these boxes contains Abe Lincoln's hat and handwritten Beatles lyrics! Jackpot: the owner was a collector. A crate is filled with Obama memorabilia: an Obama basketball, Obama plates, every Time magazine with Obama on the cover, an Obama/Biden voter's registration door tag. (Yes, but where is the Abe Lincoln hat and ergonomic chair?)
"If Obama gets reelected this will be worth something," gleams Allen, happy he's made back his investment.
For Ton it's different story: "Dude Jackpot!" he exclaims. "Fireworks! Score!
"That's the little kid in him."
"That's my weakness."
"Will you sign my boob?" a large woman asks Ton as we make our way towards the parking lot. Ton pulls out a marker and goes to town. Aaah, there's nothing like auction hunting groupies.
The Holy Grail of auction-hunting was obtained by a man who, inside a storage locker, found Beatles lyrics handwritten by John Lennon -- which sold for $2 million a piece. "1 out of 10 storage units are great -- double and triple your money stuff," Allen says. "Know what you're buying or else you're playing poker blind -- know the value of stuff. Don't spend more than you can afford to lose." He adds, ""We think we're the best in the business. We lick our chops on garbage just to throw the kids off."