TV’s Hottest Category: Auctions, Pawn Shops and Storage Units

by | March 3, 2011 at 11:15 AM | TV News

If there is a faster-growing category of TV shows out there now than all of these series you’re seeing about the buying and selling of other people’s second-hand stuff, then we haven’t heard about it.

How could there be? This one has just exploded recently, becoming so ubiquitous that you can’t help encountering a show about pawn shops, auctioneers, estate sales, or shows encompassing elements of all three, everywhere you turn lately.

Another New Show is Found in a Pawn Shop: TLC’s ‘Pawn Queens’

We’re so intrigued by these non-scripted “second-hand” TV shows that we did our own inventory and came up with an incredible 19 shows. Our list (see it below) includes some shows that may no longer be active, and some that may have been just one-off specials with the potential to get picked up as a series. But most of these are ongoing series with strong followings. And all of the shows on our list have aired in the last six months or so.

Most importantly, the success of many of these shows – from “Storage Wars” (A&E) to “Hardcore Pawn” (TruTV) – has helped this category to snowball, with no end in sight. Indeed, three new ones were announced or launched in just the last three weeks – since we last did a related story about this category.

Watch a “Storage Wars” Sneak Peek:

What’s the appeal of all of these shows that deal with stuff many of us have socked away in closets, attics, basements, barns and storage units? It comes down to money, and how much you and I might be able to get for objects that have gathered dust in our homes for years.

“When you’re walking around your own house noticing things that you may have seen on TV, it’s kind of intriguing – people want to see what [objects are] coming up next,” says Seth Gold, partner with his dad, Les Gold, in American Jewelry and Loan, the Detroit pawn empire featured in TruTV’s “Hardcore Pawn” (Tuesday nights at 10/9c). “People have a lot of stuff, so [they’re asking themselves] if they went to a pawn shop, how much could they get?”

‘American Pickers’ is about people’s relationships to the things they have,” says Mike Wolfe, one of the titular stars of this History Channel series (seen Monday nights at 9/8c). On the show – which is averaging 4.5 million viewers per episode – Wolfe and “Picker” pal Frank Fitz take roadtrips far off the beaten path in search of independent, rural folk who happen to possess barns and backyards chock full of antiques and collectibles that Mike and Frank then try and entice them to sell.

“People are fascinated with old stuff and the fact that the piece they have could be one of a kind and worth some money,” Wolfe told us. He identified the venerable PBS series “Antiques Roadshow” – which premiered in 1997 – as the granddaddy of the “second-hand” TV shows. But even he is amazed at the explosion of the category recently. “It’s like a tsunami of collector’s shows,” Wolfe said.

TV’s “Second-hand” Shows: A Complete List
(unless any others have been launched in the last five minutes!):

Antiques Roadshow (PBS)
Pawn Stars (History)
American Pickers (History)
American Restoration (History)
Pawn Queens (TLC)
What the Sell? (TLC)
Auctioneer$ (TLC)
Hardcore Pawn (TruTV)
Big Brian: The Fortune Seller (TruTV)
Auction Hunters (Spike)
Scrappers (Spike)
Auction Kings (Discovery)
American Treasures (Discovery)
Cash & Cari (HGTV)
Cash in the Attic (HGTV)
Storage Wars (A&E)
Auction Packed (NatGeo)
Hollywood Treasure (SyFy)
Oddities (Science Channel)