Allen Haff is the slick-talking wheeler and dealer on Auction Hunters that scours storage facilities with his partner Clinton “Ton” Jones looking for great loot. Whereas many of today’s famous professional locker hunters were self-taught, Allen actually has auctioneering in his blood. Allen’s father was a collector and antique specialist that showed his son the ropes, meaning that Haff has nearly double the experience and time spent with auctions than any average Joe that walks in off the street. Allen Haff was born in Michigan, but today he criss-crosses the country rapidly in search of the best storage auction finds.
Allen became so proficient in antiques dealing that he opened and operated his own antiques business at the age of 24. This guy knows what he’s talking about when it comes to valuables, old or strange oddities, and things you just can’t seem to categorize. All this specialized knowledge helped Allen to land a string of successful television appearances that further catapulted his career and ultimately caught the attention of Auction Hunters producers.
In fact, Allen has opened and maintained a number of retail and collectibles operations over the years, including Hollywood & Vintage, a company he started in Los Angeles to process, refurbish and re-sell specialty items coming out of movie studios in the area. He gained notoriety early on as a pioneer in online sales, becoming one of the first and most successful eBay sellers to deal in specialty and rare items.
On the show, Allen is a smooth operator with a keen eye for the treasure peeking out amongst the trash. He works closely with Ton to procure the items they believe will be worth their time. It’s refreshing to watch this duo work together and provides a nice counter-balance to the tried and true but somewhat more common reality television approach of setting up multiple intense personalities to clash with one another.
Allen and Ton have different styles and personalities, but they’re both extremely knowledgable and professional so watching them spot, process and profit from good lockers makes for entertaining TV. Both bring a very deep background in antiques and oddities to the table, but sometimes one of the duo’s specialties will help to cover a gap in the other’s knowledge.
Ton and Allen have a good working relationship that started up when Allen helped Ton re-sell a storage unit full of depression glass for a big payoff. Since that time they’ve been working together and discovering that they have more in common that it may seem at first glance. Allen Haff describes his working relationship with Ton as very positive because both men are competitive and willing to work hard to make their pay dirt.
Allen is also pretty outspoken about his role as the Auction Hunter on Spike’s hit TV show. He claims that when he was first approached to become one of its stars, he didn’t want to take the offer because he didn’t think this kind of show would have a positive effect on the industry he loves so much. You have to remember that Haff has been doing this his entire life – he eats, sleeps and breathes auctions and re-sale.
However, eventually Allen realized that, whether or not he liked it, these shows were going to proceed with or without him and they were likely to become big. He says he’s not oblivious to the storage auction craze that Auction Hunters and Storage Wars have drummed up, and that it’s only natural that so many viewers should tune in, see the big scores, and want to throw their own hats into the ring. But he doesn’t spend time agonizing about how the swell in popularity has jacked up prices or made it harder for veteran auction buyers to keep walking their same old beats without crossing into eager newbies. It’s just the nature of the game.
As for the best and most definitive answer as to whether or not Auction Hunters is fake: Allen says that the episodes that finally air only show 20% of the units that he and Ton actually buy. He chalks up all the screaming and whining on the blogosphere about the show being totally false to jealousy and cheap therapy for the whiners. The fact of the matter is that in addition to the units Allen buyers on Auction Hunters (only 20% of which are actually shown!) he still buyers several hundred storage units per year.
Combine this kind of drive to succeed with his expertise on antiques and their values and you can understand why he makes so much money! Haff has just as much to say to people wondering how they, too, can turn a really good profit by working public storage auctions. For one thing, it takes a great deal of hustle and drive. The second element is to build up your knowledge of items values by watching the shows, reading catalogues, studying eBay auctions (that are already successfully completed!) and attending trade shows to learn what everything is truly worth.
Here’s a clip from Auction Hunters that shows how Ton and Allen work together to score big off of the strange items they sometimes find in units they buy. In this clip, you’ll see them turn around a display coffin and some fire fighting equipment. It’s just another day in the life of the Auction Hunters.