My mother’s side of the family is what you’d call “country.” The older the generation, the more incomprehensible their accent becomes and the more avidly they talk about God and country.
I don’t really know if this is true for the rest of the South, but everyone on my mom’s side of the family loves to go on yard sales. It’s like a Saturday tradition: they head out at something like 6 AM and rummage through strangers’ musty attic boxes in search of some trinket so that they can haggle the price from 50 cents down to a nickle.
Personally, I’ve never really seen the appeal. In fact, so many members of my family have such a love of this kind of shopping that I have developed an almost allergic reaction to it. I delight in not purchasing things, resisting sales, and hoarding all of my money like a dragon sitting on a huge pile of gold.
While you’ll never catch me trying to buy a pile of 20 DVD at .05 cents a piece at a yard sale, I will admit that I understand why my family gets so riled up over yard sales. TV has shown me the wondrous excitement of junk hunting by proving to me (much to my chagrin) that I am a junk hunter viewer.
How is junk hunting different from shopping? Well, they both involve an exchange of money for goods, that much is true, but the similarities end there. The real appeal to junk hunting is that you can find a hidden treasure, some lost artifact shrouded in mystery and steeped in history at the bottom of some crate. It’s like being a backyard archaeologist, rummaging through human history to find the vestiges of a long-forgotten era.
More than likely, what you’ll find is junk, junk, and more junk, but there’s always the chance of stumbling upon a diamond in the rough. TV is more than willing to cater to this unique hobby of junk hunting with a whole host of shows that brilliantly interweave history, exploration, and capitalism.
Watch the eternally sleepy Old Man, the shrewd Rick, and the adorably dumb Chumlee haggle down prices of literal historic artifacts. The shop’s got Super Bowl rings, an honest-to-god moon landing flag, and the No. 1 issue of Playboy featuring the incredibly sexy Marilyn Monroe. And the best part? You can buy anything you see on the show by visiting their site.
Auction Hunters, Storage Wars
These junk hunters bid on the face value of storage units, which are enormous mounds of junk about as enticing as the presents beneath a Christmas Tree. I’ve seen people crack into safes, find guns worth thousands of dollars, and entire cars in these storage units.
These guys are basically aggressive yard sale enthusiasts who move from house to house, asking strangers if they can buy the junk in their yard. Perhaps the least glorified of the junk hunting shows, American Pickers buy rusty old cans for mere dollars, polish them up, and sell them for $50 a pop, but every once in a while they’ll get a real treasure.
Hoarders shows junk hunters who have given into the dark side and let their hobby become an obsession. While the show may focus more on the struggle with the disease than the actual junk, it’s hard to pull your eyes away from the mind-blowing piles of stuff. Part of you is repulsed by the filthiness of these hoarders’ houses, and the other part of you can’t help but wonder how much all of that junk is worth.