The senior member of another father and son auction hunting duo, Darrell Sheets “The Gambler” has laid claim to some pretty hefty scores in his years of sifting through storage units. Some of his biggest finds include a letter that was found to have been written by president Abraham Lincoln, which netted him $15k, in addition to a couple of paintings by Picasso. Darrell came upon storage auctions when he was 20 years old, after being fired from a landscaping job that simply didn’t fit his personality.
Laying down cash on delinquent storage lockers, however, was something else entirely. Since appearing on Storage Wars, Sheets has been absolutely blown away by the show’s fans and the general response they’re getting. He never expected this kind of publicity or success for something that seemed to be a relatively quiet little niche. As opposed to the other professional buyers on the show, Darrell has made a name for himself by taking bigger risks and taking them more often.
The reason for this is that Darrell looks at storage auctions differently than his competitors. Whereas Barry, Brandi, Jarrod and even Dave might work by the day, trying to only spend what they must in order to turn a profit, Darrell works by the month. If he’s a few grand up by the end of the month, it’s been a successful one, all told. This means that Darrell will keep on buying and laying out cash even when the competition isn’t quite as eager to jump on a unit.
This is not to suggest that Darrell is simply shooting in the dark and hoping for good luck. He applies the same perceptive experience, savvy and good buyer’s judgment when it comes to selecting one storage unit as opposed to another. Sheets has mentioned he likes “clean” looking units without too many dusty footprints or indications of grime because it means that the original owner most likely boxed up and secured valuables and goods they cared about, but then through some twist of fate lost their ability to access it.
Darrell calls these kinds of lockers “virgin units” because of their cleanliness. On the contrary, he feels that units that have mud and boots tracked all over them have likely been used semi-recently as an outpost for their original tenant and it’s far less likely that he’ll find something spectacular tucked away that the owner never intended to give up. In fact, one of Darrell’s favorite tell-tale signs to look for is whether or not the tenant paid a professional moving company to install their stuff in their storage locker.
People that pay professional movers are able to pay professional rates, which means they have good stuff. It also means they might have been using the storage locker as a staging area for getting into a new home or out of an old one, and that there could be some hefty estate valuables tucked away inside. When the locker door rolls up and Darrell has scanned through all of his go-to signs, he finally trusts his gut. “If I want it, I get it,” Darrell says. In fact, Darrell’s nickname is fitting in that he has described storage auction hunting as the kind of roller-coaster ride that you just can’t get off once you’ve experienced your first high.
Darrell claims to have experienced about 20 truly excellent and lucrative storage auction lockers in his time, and he says that the feeling of getting one of those lockers has been enough to propel him through this industry for 20 solid years. Turning $3,000 into $100,000 in a week or too is just too sweet to walk away from according to Sheets.
Here’s a video of a fan spending some time with The Gambler if you want to get an up-close look at his big personality.