Brandon and Lori Bernier made a living as bidders at storage auctions for 15 years before reality shows like TruTV’s “Storage Hunters” convinced cable TV viewers that treasures await crafty bidders in the most unlikely storage units.
The Berniers, the stars of “Storage Hunters,” spent four drama-filled seasons bidding against a cast of oddball characters intent on outbidding and outsmarting “Team Brandori,” the couple’s television moniker. Now, it looks like Brandon and Lori Bernier are heading toward new entertainment ventures.
“Storage Hunters” won’t be back for a fifth season in the U.S., a spokesperson for T Group Productions, the show’s producer, told The SpareFoot Blog. Meanwhile, the British version of “Storage Hunters” is catching fire.
The SpareFoot Blog talked with Brandon and Lori about their “Storage Hunters” experience and their plans for the future, and how to make the most of your own storage-hunting experience.
How did you get involved with “Storage Hunters”?
Lori: We were attending one of Dan Dotson’s (“Storage Wars”) auctions, and a production company came up to us and said, “Come down and do an interview.” Two or three weeks later, we got a call back saying, “The network has to have you. We love you.”
Were you actively looking to land roles in a reality show about storage auctions?
Lori: The thought never occurred to us to ever be on TV. This was what we did, so we didn’t go looking for it. It just kind of found us.
How many of those intense bidding rivalries on “Storage Hunters” were real versus for the sake of entertainment?
Lori: In the real auction, you get a lot of competition. However, for the show, a lot of it was hyped up, as far as the aggressive fighting.
Brandon: My wife and I have a 20-year background in the storage auction buying and selling industry. Neither myself, my wife, nor any other auctioneers have ever seen these other buyers on the show at any other auctions. So you can form your opinion out of that. They were cast. We were found.
Let’s say someone is inspired by watching “Storage Hunters” to try to make lots of money at storage auctions. What should they expect?
Brandon: Don’t watch the shows and consider those to be the normal experience. If you’re going to do this type of work, expect to work really hard and make less than minimum wage most of the time. Not all the time, most of the time.
Auction newbies make the mistake of going into these auctions blind about the units up for sale. What kind of research do you do on the units before the auction?
Lori: It’s advertised in the newspaper what units are going up for auction. What we do is research the people that rented the unit before. We look on LinkedIn and Facebook and Google, looking for what they did for their job and what area they lived in so we can find out if they were affluent or celebrities and whatnot.
What’s the best unit that you ever got for a great price?
Lori: There was a bin that was completely dusty and old, so nobody wanted to bid on it at all. So my husband went up to $25 and won the bid. It was full of [photo negatives from] Woodstock and Big Sur, very candid photos of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Joni Mitchell, Joan Baez, Jimi Hendrix.
Did you research that bin ahead of time?
Lori: I had an idea what could be in there. We planned to sell it off to one collector down in L.A. It was actually quite a bit more than what my research showed me, so I felt the best thing to do was donate it to the various rock ’n’ roll archives.
So what’s next for you two now that “Storage Hunters” is over?
Lori: We’ve actually started some other projects as well, so those are in the works. Those should be happening as soon as we get them all wrapped up.
Can you give us a hint about what some of those projects might be?
Brandon: Unfortunately, right now, they’re extremely preliminary so we can’t really say too much about them. All I can say right now is that it does involve television entertainment.