Denver is chock-full of storage facilities, which in turn are stuffed to the brim with things for which Denverites just can't find room. Most of the time those things are as mundane as macaroni jewelry boxes and old recliners, but in a few of those storage units are hidden treasures waiting to be appreciated. Allen Haff and Clinton "Ton" Jones, Spike TV's Auction Hunters, were in town last week, trying to find those treasures and turn them into cash.
Read about tales of a full Coors beer bottle from the '70s and a petrified whale tooth below:
Buying abandoned storage lockers and selling off the items inside for profit has become a huge fad in recent years, but Haff and Jones were in the business long before it became the stuff of reality TV. Jones got into the business on a whim seven years ago, when he was looking for places to buy old cars to wreck for fun. He discovered he had a knack for finding gems in the junk and never looked back. Haff, on the other hand, is a second-generation antiques dealer who bought and sold items from garage and estate sales to pay his way through college. The two teamed up two years ago to start filming Auction Hunters, using their homegrown skills to find and sell antiques.
The show isn't all crazy hijinks and body parts (although Haff once bought a unit that housed a catalogued scab collection). The auctions the two attended in Denver during their two week visit yielded, among other things:
- A petrified whale tooth
- An iron cowboy boot jack shaped like a pistol
- A fraternity brand, used for hazing new brothers
- A military issue camouflage tarp from the '70s that, according to Haff, "still smells like Agent Orange."
- A Star Wars collectible figurine holder shaped like Darth Vader's head
- and last, but certainly not least: A bottle of Coors from the 1970s
The last item was the subject of much discussion between the two. Jones stated that he had a general dislike for Coors products, much to the horror of Haff.
"Crack it open, Ton. You need to soak up all the liquid history," Haff told his partner. Jones complied, and after taking a sip of the forty-year-old beer, seemed to reverse his position on the Colorado institution. "Holy crap, that's a good one," Jones exclaimed. "Forty-year-old Coors is better than four-month-old Budweiser."
"Every unit Ton and I buy, we learn something, we grow. We kind of step into that life for a minute, and we're better people, every single unit," Haff says.
"Sometimes it heals you, and other times it's just sort of a reminder to look more closely at the things you have at home," he continues. Haff keeps his own massive collection at his California home.
Jones, on the other hand, prefers to keep his collections small and manageable. "I only like to collect things that are very small, that can fit in a suitcase," explains. "That way, when the zombies come, I can pick the bag up and run. I don't want to turn into one of those hoarders."
"We've watched that hoarders show, and I gotta say, some of those hoarders have a pretty good eye. Underneath the dead cats, sometimes I see thousands of dollars worth of collectables," says Haff.
Still, it's not easy finding collectables. For those who enjoy the show and want to get in on the action, the pair encourage caution.
''If you're just starting in," says Haff, "my advice is go to garage sales, estate sales. Get the eye. Know what you like, and then you'll know it when you see it in a unit. Start out small."
And for those of you thinking they'll go easy on you because they're nice guys, think again.
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"When all is said and done, this is still a business," warns Jones. "If some new guy shows up and presents an easy target, I'm gonna make sure he goes home broke, his wife is gonna kick his ass and he's never gonna show up again. Because that's the business. It's a cutthroat business."
Auction Hunters airs at 8 p.m. MST Tuesdays on Spike TV.