American Restoration – With Rick, Tyler, Kelly and Kyle

How many times have you passed over some otherwise interesting piece at a yard sale just because it was covered in rust?

Do you have any ancient collectibles sitting in your basement that have seen far better days? American Restoration is a History Channel program that takes an in-depth look into the restoration industry, following professionals like Rick Dale who breathe new life into beat-up vintage antiques, and fetch a health profit in the process.

The episodes themselves usually feature one or more owners of worn-down antiques who know their items would be worth some good money in better condition, but aren’t sure how to go about fixing them up. They bring their wares into Rick, who goes to work on making them good as new alongside his team  of experts.

A given episode will touch on the physical challenges and obstacles each item presents, such as extreme rust, delicate and outdated machine parts or hard-t0-find paint colors.

Each episode, the American Restoration team must overcome these snags to produce a finished product that their customer will be happy with. In restoring each item, the stars also come to give a ballpark of its new value in excellent condition.

This allows the original owner to proudly display their restored product, or sell it for a healthy profit. The producers usually keep the big reveal until the end of each episode, so the greatly improved products serve as the climax of each show. Let’s meet some of the major players from American Restoration:

Rick Dale

Rick Dale From American RestorationRick has an interesting position on the show. Unlike some of his employees, Rick not only has to worry about doing excellent vintage restoration work on extremely damaged and corrupted old items, but he must also worry about keeping his business afloat and profitable.

This means that pricing jobs is more complicated than coming up with a number that will keep his clients happy.

But if anyone’s up to the Job it’s Rick. He’s been restoring items since he was nine years old and has maintained his passion throughout his life.

This means his breadth of knowledge and experience make him uniquely capable of handling any job that comes his way.

To be sure, the sheer variety of the items that Rick comes across in the course of business is staggering. Here we see just a sample of the kinds of things Rick and his team will work on in a given day:

Rick Dale and his many antiquesVintage Coca-Cola vending machines and old-school refrigerators are pretty common on the show, with collectors turning up with rusted out and busted antiques they need restored. Rick not only gets them looking like brand new, but he also makes them functional.

In doing so, he raises their value several thousands of dollars, making his clients happy and his own restoration business successful. On a given episode we might see him working with a variety of power tools including sanders, buffers, airbrushes and more.

Even old-timey barber’s chairs can fetch a health profit on the open market once they’ve been lovingly restored to their original condition. Another common submission is the vintage gas pump beloved for its bell tones and retro paint jobs.

The wide variety of items that Rick and his team deal with demand a keen eye for detail and great general ability. In one moment, a team member might be expected to re-paint the original fine lines on a logo, and then use an industrial sander to obliterate rust in the next.

Rick’s Shop

Located in Las Vegas, Nevada, Rick’s Restorations does a healthy business, only further helped along by the notoriety they have received from the History Channel. Since American Restoration began airing, the foot traffic to Rick’s family shop has increased dramatically, with many customers coming just to see the famous crew.

RIck's Restoration Shop Sign in Las VegasHere you can see the retro-style road sign for Rick’s shop in Las Vegas. With so much success on and off the air, many viewers wonder just how much Rick is pulling down each year in terms of money.

All told, Rick Dale’s combined net worth is estimated to be $2.5 million, thanks to a health vintage restoration trade that was only further boosted by the television air time.


Kelly Meyer

Speaking of the logo above, now let’s meet the woman who is the model for the flag girl on Rick’s sign as well as Rick’s girlfriend and business operations manager.

When it comes to the less glamorous aspects of the business, such as handling invoices, ordering parts and dealing with customers and schedules, Kelly Meyer is the woman that makes everything run smoothly in the background.

Aside from just keeping everything orderly in the counting room, Kelly had a major role in keeping Rick’s business open when the market was at its lowest.

Through her support and tenacity, Kelly was able to get Rick to begin appearing on another reality show, Pawn Stars, which preceded American Restoration.

Kelly Mayer of American Restoration Fame

It was on Pawn Stars that Rick began gaining notice for his uncanny ability to completely and totally restore busted old junk into something beautiful and valuable.

If it hand’t been for this debut into the world of industry-based reality television, Rick’s entire business might have shut down and American Restoration would have never come to be.

Kelly has another important role on the show as Brettly’s mother.

Profiting From Unclaimed Luggage Auctions

Have you ever wondered what happens to all the baggage that gets lost each year by airlines and their passengers? The number of suitcases, duffel bags, purses and hard-case luggage separated from their owners each year is staggering, with an estimated 10,000 bags being lost each year in Miami International airport alone.

What makes unclaimed luggage auctions particularly ripe for bargain hunters trying to turn a profit? To answer this, think about the kinds of things people bring with them in their personal carry-on and checked luggage when they’re traveling by plane. As opposed to larger storage lockers, personal luggage has a much greater incidence of valuable items.

You can be sure that lost personal luggage for sale is going to contain plenty of laptops, smart phones, electronic devices, e-readers, expensive cosmetics, perfume, cologne, jewelry and sometimes even cash. Due to the compact and condensed nature of luggage, you can expect bigger bang for your auction buying buck.

making money on the baggage claimLet’s get down to the nitty gritty of making money on unclaimed luggage auctions, how they happen and how you can maximize your profits from buying up lost baggage. Despite what you may think if you’ve ever had your bags misplaced by an airline, domestic carriers have an impressive find and return rate for personal items that go missing during travel.

In fact, it’s estimated that 99.5% of all bags are eventually returned to their rightful owner by airlines that originally misplaced them. This leaves a statistically small, but still potentially lucrative mini goldmine of duffel bags, suitcases and backpacks that have been permanently divorced from their owners.

After an airline has exhausted all attempts to contact the owner of a lost bag, and a minimum interval of time has passed (usually about 3 to 4 months), the lost luggage is corralled together and sold off the Unclaimed Luggage Center in Alabama. This special organization has been lost luggage in the States since the 1970’s.

Now under contract with airlines and transportation lines, the Unclaimed Baggage Center receives, processes, sorts, prices and sells all the goods they find inside the luggage coming through their doors. Then, they arrange the goods they find by category and display them in their large store, which allows people to peruse the items at their leisure. You can check out their site here.

In addition to the Unclaimed Baggage Center, there are a few wholesalers and liquidators that buy up luggage at auctions and auction them off through websites. These sites can be a great way to get your hands on a great deal of discounted merchandise for re-sale.

Just as with storage units, there’s never any guarantee that you’re going to find something amazing in every package you get, but you always do have a chance of striking it rich.

Another option is to go the government route with federal auction conglomerate sites like You can certainly find amazing deals on unclaimed luggage in addition to electronics, vehicles and more than have been seized by the government.

The fact that auction shows and networks that specialize in them are getting in on luggage auctions is the best indication that this niche has the potential to be very lucrative. The makers of Storage Wars are launching a separate program just covering luggage auctions and their buyers. Whether or not this program will enjoy the same commercial success as the tried and true Storage Wars is yet to be seen.




Storage Wars Victor Rjesnjansky Bio

Known as “The Outsider” amongst the Storage Wars Texas cast, Victor Rjesnjansky is a New Yorker out of water in Texas. During the season’s pilot, Victor is seen hurtling down the road in his car, complaining that you can’t get a decent cup of coffee or any meat that doesn’t have mesquite on it in Texas.

How much of this is played up for the sake of the show and how much of it is really Victor himself? We can’t know for sure. Victor and his anti-Texan sentiments are certainly at odds with some of the lifelong residents of the state that he’s bidding against. Ricky and Bubba Smith, for example, are proudly Texan and drive all over their state in search of good buys, and even early on in the season we begin to see antagonism between them and Victor.

A&E TV is known to throw X-factors and odd elements into their reality shows in order to make for more entertaining television. We’ve certainly got that in Victor. Impatient, quick to anger and constantly getting involved in little squabbles over units, he’s interesting to watch to say the least.

And it doesn’t stop there. Victor is famous for referring to his competition in Texas as “yokels” or “rednecks”. He’s certainly cutting a dashing stereotype for himself, with his mafia-style clothing, flashy BMW and impatience with locals.

victor from storage wars texas shooting a gunOne of Victor’s favorite sleazy moves is to “drop a unit” on one of his competitors. This means that he will bid up a unit that he’s not personally interested in just to increase the cash outlay of his competition. Dave Hester from the original seasons of Storage Wars was also a big fan of this technique.

While it’s certainly possible for this to backfire if the person trying to drop the unit on someone else ends up bidding just one too many times, when it does work it can be a good shock to the person that gets stuck with the higher bill.

So what is Victor’s personal stake in the world of storage auctions? He operates two retail stores in Texas with a partner and his total net worth is currently estimated at $1 million from sales, TV appearances, real estate sales and miscellaneous storage auction findings.

When he’s not trying to drop units on rednecks, Victor enjoys spending his winnings on motorcycles, boats and luxury goods. He’s certainly enjoying the fruits of his efforts and making the lifestyle look appealing to those of us who are still waiting for our big break.



Storage Wars Texas Bio: Morris Prigoff

Morris is one kooky character. Stepping out of his antique car in sneakers so brightly colored they can be blinding, Morris is anything but your typical “old man”. In addition to running a successful antique and collectibles store known as “The River Regency Modern”, Morris is a practicing podiatric surgeon!

Being the owner of two successful businesses has certainly lined Morris’s pockets, which explains why he has the greatest net worth of any of the bidders on the Texas chapter of Storage Wars. At an estimated total value of $4 million, it’s easy to understand why Morris spends so much time smiling.

Known as “The Doc” on the show, Prigoff may be able to bring his sunny disposition to each episode because he doesn’t have as much on the line as Lesa who is trying to supply a new retail store with goods. Morris also brings a refreshing presence to the show because he doesn’t engage in the petty interpersonal sniping that often dominated the first seasons of Storage Wars.

Moe likes to focus on the bidding and the units as opposed to getting wrapped up in mind games with the other contenders. Whereas Victor loves to try to trick the “yokels” around him at every turn, Moe is focused on trying to find quality art he can collect and display in his gallery. However, he’s not above dropping a unit on Victor now and again to give him a taste of his own medicine.

Moe looks stumped by a giant unit full of boxes

One of the other advantages Moe has as the wealthiest buyer on the show is the ability to spend more money on units and take bigger risks or muscle up the price when he wants a given locker badly enough. Other buyers like Ricky and Bubba have to be a bit more careful with the cash they throw around.

However, Moe’s not just ready to accept any unit that comes his way. He’s looking for very specific categories of items. Anything retro, antique, old, collectible or possibly original is certain to get on his radar. So how did the Mad Doctor of Texas storage auctions get his start? It was a natural outgrowth of his activities in the antiques sector.

Today, Moe’s store has wacky, wild and strangely beautiful pieces of furniture for sale, ranging in price from $500 to well over $3,000 per piece. If you’re in the mood for something retro, otherworldly or just downright different, you should check out his River Regency Modern website to see current pieces or to purchase them online.

Moe’s got everything from dresser drawers to funky love seats and ottomans and you can peruse his stock through his site or stop in to visit the store locally if you’re in the Dallas area.

So what does Moe do when he’s not whipping up one of his wacky outfits or driving a different collectible car each day? Moe’s laundry list of extracurricular activities is so long it’s amazing he gets anything done at all.

In addition to filming episodes for Storage Wars Texas and overseeing his shop operations with the help of an assistant, Moe is still practicing foot surgeon. Having built up his experience working in a veteran’s hospital, Moe now has his own practice and is certified by the American Podiatric Medical Association to perform various heel and foot surgeries.

Certainly a man of various interests! Moe Prigoff adds a welcome note of good humor and individuality to the  cast of Storage Wars Texas.

Storage Wars: Texas

The Longhorn state is the scene of the latest installment of Storage Wars, and it’s packed full of new cast members, plenty of new units, antiques, collectibles and odd ball miscellany. Walt Cade, a veteran auctioneer with a famous “Caribbean chant” calling style is the new head honcho when it comes to moving units quickly and efficiently.

Walt has been well-known and well-liked in auction and self storage circuits for many years. He brings professionalism, knowledge and a passion for auctions to the show and will provide a steady presence as he oversees the sales of the delinquent units. Walt Cade’s net worth is currently $1.5 million. In addition to his appearances on the program, he also owns his own local auction company.

walt cade on storage wars texas

The Texas cast is drawn from all walks of life and age ranges, just like in the original seasons of Storage Wars. Ricky Smith and Bubba Smith, also known as “The Rangers” are two good old boys that pride themselves on driving all over the state in search of profitable storage lockers up for grabs. They may speak slowly with a Texan twang, but they have combined decades of experience buying up lockers. Ricky has been dealing in auctions since he was a young boy and he’s clearly been doing well for himself. Today, Ricky Smith’s net worth is: $2 million.

ricky and bubba smith outside a storage locker

Another newcomer to the auction buying scene is Victor Rjesnjansky, who relocated to Texas from New York. His call-sign? “The Outsider”, of course. Victor is headstrong, impatient and aggressive and claims to have been in the buying game for over 20 years.

Victor is pegged early on as grating against the Texan lifestyle and can be seen complaining about the food, driving and coffee in Texas. Victor has a strong New York accent and we can only imagine it’s going to get him into trouble with the other cast members. Victor’s current net worth: $1 million.

Victor The Outsider from New York flexes some muscle

Then there’s Lesa Lewis, who is known as “The Boss”. Having recently opened her own thrift store called Again and Again Resale, she is looking to stock her shelves with discounted merchandise that can draw in a loyal client base and keep them coming back so her business can stay afloat.

Assisted by her employee Jerry, Lesa is known to be more emotional than some of her competition. She is seen tearing up when her new store is first opened. In this business it takes a stern exterior to hang with the big boys. How will her sensitivity come into play? If nothing else, her current net worth can console her in even the darkest of moments. Lesa is currently worth: $2.5 million, boosted by successful auctions and retail sales.

Then there’s Moe Frigoff who introduces himself as an antiques aficionado. He has a quirky, humorous and somewhat random style that’s reminiscent of one of the most popular storage auction hunters of all time: Barry Weiss. He runs an antique gallery on the outskirts of Dallas and proudly beams that it’s stuffed with wonderful and strange pieces of furniture, collectibles, toys and old gadgets. Moe weighs in as the big earner here, with a net worth of $4 million.

But the basic formula remains: people get testy in the hot sun after walking around all day and getting outbid on units. These wildly diverse backgrounds and temperaments clash now and again and make for good reality television.

Parking Wars

We’ve all had that terrible stomach-chilling moment when we rush back to our parked car only to find that glaring yellow envelope poking up out of our windshield wipers – the meter maid has struck and we’re now on the hook for a $45 ticket that we’ll begrudgingly mail off once the due date edges dangerously close.

A&E has set its sights on the concrete battleground contested by busy commuters and eager parking meter attendants and the shady characters and interactions in between.

Originally following Philadelphia’s finest parking authority as they performed their daily functions of parking enforcement, the series has now broadened in scope to include Detroit and Rhode Island, too. What constitutes a normal day for a member of the parking enforcement squad, you may wonder? In addition to normal ticketing for tardy shoppers, you can see plenty of booting and, in some extreme cases of failure to pay extensive parking tickets, impounding.

A meter maid writes a violator a ticket

Naturally, tempers flare amongst drivers that return from starbucks or KFC to find that their ride home has been towed away courtesy of the city. Parking Wars showcases plenty of heated exchanges between those entrusted with the solemn duty of policing the meters and sidewalks and no-parking zones and the enraged citizens whose vehicles they must take action against.

Viewers get to see some of the heated exchanges from the perspectives of the municipal workers that are just trying to do their jobs and keep their paychecks coming in, possibly inspiring more compassion for the oft-maligned local meter maid.

“Booting” refers to the placing of a giant metal “boot” or restrictive clamping device on the front wheels of vehicles so that repeat violators literally cannot drive their cars away until they rectify their past due balance with the city.

The show follows several different parking enforcement officers as they make their rounds on their downtown beats or on the outskirts of the city, on the prowl for motorists who have ignored or disregarded posted signs about the parking areas and zones where stopping or standing is prohibited.

As the episodes progress, viewers are introduced to more and more enforcement agents and get to know them as individuals. For example, Kathy, who now works in parking enforcement, started out as a crossing guard and once gave her own brother a parking ticket.

Shows how committed she is to her job and the law! Steve, who is also known as “curly” by some fellow agents in reference to his wild hair, is another several year veteran who patrols the streets outside the court house district.

Those that find the show entertaining enough to stick with it through its multiple seasons will get a sense of how parking laws and meter ticketing vary from state to state as the later seasons begin to focus entirely on Rhode Island and its officers. What do you think? Will Parking Wars have the same staying power as our most beloved auction based TV programming?