INTERVIEW - Darrell Sheets

Whats up guys I'm Darrell Sheets darrellsheets250.jpg and I have the most interesting job and I find some of the best items in the world stuck in storage lockers across the country. I do it all for my Grandbabies.

The show has gotten a lot of buzz. What's the reaction been like from people you know?
Seriously, it's been out of control. This whole thing has developed this underground culture and all of these people are coming out of the woodwork. I can't believe it.

Now, you've been doing this since you were a kid, right?
Well, [since] about 20 years old.

How did you get into it?
Well, what happened was, I had a landscaping business, taking care of shopping centers and I wasn't doing it the right way, I guess, because they let me go. Two days later, I went back to him and said, "I want my job back, I'll do a better job." He said, "No, I want to show you something different that I really think you're going to enjoy."

So on the show, you're labeled The Gambler. Do you think you take bigger risks than other bidders?
I know I do. A lot of these people buy a storage locker and go one locker at a time if they win or lose. What I do, I do it by the month. In other words, if I start the month off with $25,000 and end up with $20,000, I've had a losing month. If I start out with $25,000 and end up with $40,000, I had a great month. So I'll gamble on a lot of lockers based on something I see in there, but if I don't like it I'll just give the locker away.

When you first see a locker, and you don't know everything that's in it, how do you figure out whether you're going to bid on it and how much you're going to bid? How would you describe your process?
My philosophy is if I want it, I get it. There are circumstances sometimes that don't allow you be that way, but when they first cut the lock off and open the door, there are a lot of things I look for.

Are there cobwebs along the doorjambs? Are the boxes covered with dust? Are there footprints going into the locker -- which would tell you someone had been and out of there recently. Is the lock on the door rusty? Or is it a new lock? If it's rusty, it's been in there a long time. Did they pay a mover good money to move that in there? That usually means they have good stuff. If you pay to move your stuff, it's good stuff.

So the older the stuff looks to be, the more it might be worth?
That tells me more or less what I term "virgin stuff." If there are a lot of footprints and the dust is all moved and everything, that tells me that someone had been going in and out of there and maybe they were using it as sub-storage. If it's all boxed up and dusty and all the furniture is wrapped up, you can tell no one has been there in a long time.

You've been doing this for a long time now. What keeps you at it?
All it takes a good hit and you're addicted. When you buy something for $3,000 and turn it into $100,000 that's like an addict chasing the high. I've tasted about 20 really, really good lockers in my life and I love that feeling. And the only way I can describe it to you -- and it's good that it's this time of year where you'll understand this -- remember when you were 12 years old and mom and dad had all the presents ready and it was Christmas Eve and you're laying down to go to sleep and you're all warm and fuzzy and you couldn't wait to wake up and have at it? It's the exact same feeling every time I buy a locker. I have all these boxes to dig through.

Have you ever had a string of bad lockers where you say, 'I can't do this anymore'?
I never say I can't do this anymore, but I've gone six months without getting a good locker. But this thing goes in tides, you go up and down like the tide in the ocean. It's a numbers game. If you buy 100 of them, one of a 100 is going to stick. You really have to remember that and know that it's going to happen.

The show focuses on four bidders but I assume there are more out there. How big is this field?
This industry is a lot bigger than people think it is, I'll tell you that. Since the show started, we've gone from 40 to 50 people at an auction to 300 people at an auction. It's now, every guy or woman that's been out of work, sitting on the couch going, "What am I going to do now?" They watch this show and they can literally get up tomorrow morning and go do this. Fuck Dave Hester.

I had no idea this world existed!
I'll leave you with this, Kelly, this is something no one's ever asked me or I got to tell them about through all my interviews. This job has also allowed me to take every summer of my life off. I work really hard all winter, I put my money away, and every summer I take off and buy a house on the river, a boat in the harbor, something like that.

If you know how to work it, this can be a great lifestyle. You're in complete control of what's going on. But in the winter it's 7 days a week, 17 hours a day.

Yeah man.

Uploaded 09/02/2011
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