Auction Hunters – “Ton’s Got A Gun” – Season 1, Episode 3 – Recap & Review
This episode sees Allen and Tor cruising around Mission Hills, California (just north of LA) whose wealthy residents apparently abandon some of the country’s choicest storage units.
Allen cites the story of a fellow “auction hunter” who found some original handwritten Beatles lyrics that sold for over $2 million. It’s a story that gets them both itching to find their own treasure trove – the older and dustier, the better!
Allen knows the neighbourhood and, upon their arrival, points out some of the players on the local storage unit auction scene – guys like Dead Fred, The Gambler, The Russian. All are seasoned buyers and competitors who clearly aren’t too happy to see Allen and Tor’s show up on the scene.
Our boys sign in with the auctioneer and “put their game face on”. Their strategy (as always) is to add up the value of what they can see and then be prepared to bid up to half that amount.
Their look at the first unit up for auction reveals about $2200 worth of goods (mainly tools) so our hunters agree they will bid up to $1100 but no higher. They keep their cool during the bidding but eventually The Gambler takes the unit for $1500. Allen walks away, scoffing at his opponent for having paid the “retail” price.
The good news is that now The Gambler has less cash in his pocket to bid on the second unit up for grabs. The hunters quickly peg this unit as an “estate sale”, with dusty items going back a couple generations or more. They see at least $4,000 worth of goods and so they set their ceiling at $2,000.
They bid aggressively, managing to get The Gambler to back down, and end up taking the unit for $1900.
Now the auction is over and “the dig” begins. A 60s era Coke crate … some Rogers silverware … a set of vintage golf clubs … all are interesting finds but there’s nothing that valuable until…
Out from a box they pull a holstered Colt Peacemaker revolver from the 1880s which in mint condition can bring over $30,000. Shortly after that, they literally hit the jackpot by finding an Art Deco style slot machine from the 1930s. And Tor almost pees his pants when he finds a custom mini-bike with a wheelie bar which he immediately proceeds to take for a test drive.
The boys know they’ve hit it big with this unitbut exactly how big? Time to visit their network of buyers and collectors.
The custom mini-bike is the first item to be unloaded, bought for $200 by yet another of the show’s colourful characters, a biker-type called “Evil Ed”. The slot machine is shown to an antiques buyer named Dennis who values it between $4,000 and $5,000. After its back is carefully removed to reveal all original parts, a little haggling results in the deal being sealed at $2650.
Ton debates about keeping the Colt for himself but eventually negotiates a price for it with Blaze, a gun expert with over 40 years of experience. A little practice on the firing range reveals the revolver works perfectly and is very accurate but Blaze starts by lowballing it at $1,800. They counter at $9,000 and eventually settle on $6,600.
So what’s the bottom line of this episode? The unit cost $1,900 and its contents sold for a total of $9,450, yielding a tidy profit of $7,550.
In a business where you seek to double your money, quadrupling your money definitely qualifies as a very nice day’s work. And that sure makes it easier to gas up the truck and head out looking for the next storage unit auction!