No End in Sight for TV’s Obsession With Collectibles

Sean Kelly on TruTV's "Storage Hunters" (Photo: TruTV)

Shows about storage units, pawn shops, auctions and artifacts in your attic continue to explode.

And we’re proud to say: We told you so! We first noted this rapidly growing, “unscripted” subgenre last March, when we took an inventory and came up with about 20 shows (starting with the granddaddy of them all, “Antiques Roadshow”) dealing, in one way or another, with the kind of stuff many of us have lying around the house – some of it collectible (i.e. sellable for decent money) and some of it not.

Twenty is a huge number for any category of TV show, but guess what – in recent weeks, five more of these “second-hand” series have emerged. Even more noteworthy, the genre is about to make a leap from cable to broadcast television with NBC and Fox each launching shows of their own in the category this summer.

Why bring this up now? Because one of these new ones premieres this coming week – “Storage Hunters” on TruTV, launching Tuesday night (June 21) at 10/9c (following the fourth-season premiere, at 9/8c, of “Hardcore Pawn”). It’s one of a handful of shows focused solely on the world of abandoned storage units and the colorful characters who buy their contents at on-site auctions. A&E already has “Storage Wars,” which has done so well that the cable channel is developing a Texas-based spinoff, “Storage Wars: Dallas.”


Watch an episode of History Channel’s “American Pickers,” one of our favorite collecting shows, here:


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The main difference between A&E’s “Storage Wars” and Tru’s “Storage Hunters” figures to be physical – all of TruTV’s reality shows (“Operation Repo” and the like) devolve eventually into scuffles and fisticuffs, and we expect the hunters in “Storage Hunters” will engage in much the same, or else it wouldn’t be on Tru, would it?

Besides “Storage Hunters,” here are the other shows in the category that have emerged recently:

“Haunted Collector” (SyFy): This show, which premiered June 1 (Wednesday at 10/9c), stars John Zaffis, described by SyFy as a collector “not of stamps, coins or comic books [but someone who] collects objects that have become home to paranormal spirits and/or energy.”

“Flea Man” (NatGeo): This new entry in the yard sale category premiered on National Geographic Channel on Sunday, June 12 (at 8/7c). It stars “flea market guru” Jimmy Kaplow, who counsels home owners on how much they can get for the stuff they have socked away in closets, garages, attics, basements and barns.

“It’$ Worth What?” (NBC): Cedric the Entertainer is the unlikely host (I mean, who knew Ced was into antiques?) of this NBC summer series scheduled to debut Tuesday, July 12, at 8/9c. This series takes a game-show approach to the pricing of collectibles as contestants compete to guess the value of items ranging from those found in ordinary homes “to some of the most exotic valuables from around the globe,” NBC says.

“Buried Treasure” (Fox): This Fox entry is reportedly scheduled to debut Aug. 24. It stars the Keno twins – furniture experts Leslie and Leigh – who became famous for their appraisals on “Antiques Roadshow.” In “Buried Treasure,” they’ll be combing the country for hidden “treasures” gathering dust in the houses of unsuspecting homeowners.

We happen to love all these shows, with particular affection for “Storage Wars,” “Auction Hunters” on Spike and “American Pickers” on History. Our message to the TV industry: Keep ’em coming!

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The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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