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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Dan Dotson Interview -- Our 100th Blog!

Well, it's been nearly a year since we started this company, and about eight months since we started blogging.  It's hard to believe it, but this blog makes our 100th one, and we thought we'd do something special to celebrate.  So.. without any further delay.. It's here...  finally... our long anticipated interview with Dan Dotson of Storage Wars!    We were on the phone with Dan for over 40 minutes, so obviously we cannot air the entire interview here-- there's also bits and pieces of it that we cannot share with you all because there may or may not be some Storage Wars and industry secrets, but I can tell you that for everyone who comments -- one person will win the chance to listen to the entire phone conversation!

** Update:  We've added in transcription of some of the questions because Dan just talks TOO fast for most of us to keep up with!  You'll see SH for Storage Heroes (or Brian/Rebecca),   DD for Dan Dotson, and LW for Lance Watkins, of Storage Treasures.

If you don't know who Dan Dotson is, you probably are wrong and you just haven't placed the face with the name.  Dan has very quickly turned from successful auctioneer and doting husband and father to successful all of the above WITH a hit TV show, Storage Wars.   Dan and his wife Laura can be seen on every episode of Storage Wars on A&E.   Here are a few pictures of them in action:

Here's a clip of Dan doing his thing on Storage Wars.

Dan Dotson is a 3rd generation auctioneer, and was wildly successful even before Storage Wars, as one of the best auctioneers in America.  After Storage Wars premiered, we've really gotten to know a little more about Dan, but a lot more about his wife, Laura.  We asked Dan how he and Laura met:

Seeing as how one of his bidders was his wife, that brings us to our next question.  Does Dan give preferential treatment to bidders that he is friends with?

SH:  Aww, so it was like a 3 year auction courtship almost!   We were curious if you guys were dating and she was still a bidder, and if, what that's like-- if you have someone show up at one of your auctions, that you're a friend or relative of, and if that's okay, and if people think you're giving them preferential treatment, and, just how do you work that situation??

DD:  That is a great great question, and whenever I see that someone shows up at an auction that I think that someone else might think that I know and it's something sneaky, then normally I will try a little bit extra longer to get that extra bid and I try to make it very clear who's bidding so I try to put myself in a better position for that.  If you're my friend it's probably best that you don't come around and bid because I'm not going to give you a deal and I don't want anybody to take it wrong so I'll probably ask a little bit longer for a little more money before I sell it.

SH:  That's a great way to deal with it.

At this point in the conversation, Brian enters, and well...  here's an interesting conversation about pajama choices!

I guess it's easy to wear money on your pajamas when you are rich. We ask Dan about what changes he's made since becoming a superstar.  He also tells us the secrets behind his famous hair!

SH:  What happened... I mean, Lance showed us the YouTube video of when you guys were featured on the local news, and I know Storage Wars came kind of quickly after that, how did you guys change-- did you change your hair, what you wear, how you do things for TV, or did that all just kind of stay the same?
DD:  You know... umm.. things really haven't changed, I mean, I started getting better haircuts.
SH:  Laughter
DD:  You know, a lot of people they called me, and said I had a toupee, and you know they had said that on our little YouTube video before, so I desperately had to find somebody that would cut my hair right, you know, so it didn't look like a toupee, you know, and I was wearing like a bowling type shirt, and I got away from that pretty quick. I kind of went with the button up stuff, and Laura just did the same.  You know, we're basically the same people that we were before the show-- we're still business people, and we still have a big business that we are running every day, and fitting in the show, and you know, we remembered who our friends were before we started, and they're all still our friends, and you know, you'd be amazed how many new cousins and stuff that actually come out of the woodwork,  I have a lot of friends that I've had for 20-25 years, and some of them call, and I'm really happy to hear from them, and um, you know, because it's been a long time, and other ones call and all I think is you know, what the hell are you calling me for, and I thought you were an asshole 20 years ago, and now you're calling me?  We were friends, and if I remember right, I think you owe me money, or whatever.   I'm the kind of gentleman, I don't even say that, I just tell them thanks for calling, and you know, keep in touch, and hang up the phone and go on,  but you know, nothing changed at all, to be honest with you-- it's just a lot more hectic.

Along those lines, we ask him what it's like being famous:

Rebecca: What's it like for you guys being total celebrities .. not overnight, but I mean what's it like to be recognized in public and have you had to change any of the ways you're doing things because of that?  Are you unable to grocery shop and stuff?
DD:  Yeah, I was just saying that my flashing days are over, I really have to pay attention to what I'm doing.
It's very surreal,  you know Laura and I love people and we love to network and the more clients and networking we make the more money and we love people, right, so this is kind of a natural thing for us ,  it is kind of weird though, every day, 20 or 30 times a day  I'm going down the freeway or I'm in the McDonalds or the Starbucks or wherever I'm at and people do recognize us and they want lots of photos and we usually have swag and you know SWAG stands for Storage Wars Autographed Goodies, and
(Rebecca:  NICE!)
DD:  So we give that out to folks and we like it-- we like the attention, and I'm sure that at some point it might get old but it certainly hasn't yet!

Everyone knows that Dave Hester does YUUUUUP! -- We were kind of wondering what types of calls other people may make when trying to bid on a unit.

SH: What about Barry, I mean Barry obviously has some crazy antics -- are people now trying to do things at your auctions like bring midgets on stilts , you know, like, what's the zaniest thing besides what Barry's done that you've seen?
DD:  Yeah, I, you know, when Barry started coming around we had to break out the rule books and we have all kinds of new rules and some of them I can't even share with you because I'm not sure the show has even been out yet, but for instance, I mean, midgets on stilts is a liability for our insurance!  He's earned those stilts and that's really not something that normally we would do.  I haven't seen too many people do too much crazy crap besides Barry, we've been getting a lot of guys with unique calls- a lot of people are coming off with their own monikers like maybe it's "Right here!"  or "Bid here!" so a lot of people are coming up with their own monikers instead of Dave's YUUUUP! which you know, it's kind of cool. It's very cool.
Rebecca:  That's awesome, and we're huge Saints fans in New Orleans, and I don't know if you know, but our little thing here is WHO DAT!  So maybe we might have to start doing that at auction-- I'm sure Brian would be more than happy to throw out a couple of "Who Dats!"  so, that's actually a pretty good idea
DD:  What's that? WHO DAT??  Say it again??
Rebecca:  Who Dat!  Who D-A-T-- and the reason is, because at games we say "WHO DAT say dey gonna beat dem Saints?"  and the answer of course, is "No one!"
DD:  Alright, we'll have to do that!  WHO DAT!
LW:  Isn't that pretty much everybody that beats the Saints?
Rebecca: OHHH... did you see what we did to the Colts last night?  62-7, and the 7 was because we felt sorry for them!
DD:  Funny, funny.

Speaking of Dave,  here's what Dan said when we asked how he REALLY feels about Dave Hester:

SH: So the #1 thing that people are asking, and I have to tell you, it wasn't me, but people really don't think that you like Dave Hester. What do you really think about him?

Dan Dotson:  Uh, I think that every time Dave yells YUUUP I make money.  I've known Dave for 25 years, and he's an asshole and he's always been one, but I like him, as a person I like him when he's not around auction he's a good guy.  When I do business with him at auction he's very solid, he's really honorable. If he says, if we do a deal, and he owes me 32 dollars and 26 cents, he'll make sure that I have every penny and that everything is there... so I admire Dave and have a lot of admiration for Dave.  I like people to like me and Dave doesn't give a damn whether they like him or not.  And uh, it takes a lot of balls to be like that, that's what I think, it takes a lot of courage for a guy like Dave to just say, you know, I don't care if they don't like me, this is the way I'm going to do it, and when I was  in my early 20s and 30s selling stuff to Dave, he was really hard on a young auctioneer, he'd tell people not to bid, and say, "hey, I think you're going to have to sell this to this place and I don't think you're going to be able to sell it there so you're going to have to do something else with it" and try to discourage them from sort of bidding and stuff, and it was just a lot of, I learned a lot as an auctioneer from a guy like Dave because he brought everything to the table and he had auctioneers learning to defend yourself against that and to defend your sellers so you can make as much money as you can and you know, over the years, I've probably been upset with Dave a couple of times a long time ago, but now he treats me like a million bucks, he doesn't disrespect me, and it's a two way street- I don't disrespect Dave either.  I like Dave, I like everybody on the show, actually, I like Darrell and his son Brandon, I think they're great people, I like Barry, I think he's a nut, I haven't known Barry as long as I've known  everybody else, but Barry's just one hell of a guy, whether he's on camera or he's not on camera, and Jarrod and Brandy, they're a young couple, they're kind of making stuff work and you know, I liked them out of the gate,  I thought Jarrod was a pretty cool cat, and wasn't afraid to work, and you know we sort of helped those folks meet up with the executive co-producers and the folks that cast the show.

Speaking of help, we couldn't resist the opportunity to pick Dan's brain and ask him for advice for all of you that read this blog.  Here's what he had to say:

Rebecca: StorageTreasures is helping us too because we kinda started, you know, it's a key moment down here for New Orleans, because a lot of people in Hurricane Katrina lost all of their things, and stored them maybe a year or two later, so it's kind of just at the period of time where people are stopping to pay and this industry is really picking up here, and it's the perfect time for us, and y'all have been such a big help to us.  What kind of advice would you give to the people that read our blog?  Some are buyers (like us) some are actually tenants, some are people that are just looking to get rid of some of their things, some just like reading about it.  What kind of advice would you give to people like us who do what we do here?
DD:  I tell you what, I think the best advice that anyone can do is to remember to be diversified.  You can diversify the way you buy, you diversify the way you sell, so when you're buying, you're not only buying and selling storage units, you're going to moving and estate sales, you're going to Craigslist, to eBay, you find anything that's shaking within your area and you're going to double or triple your money on it or you're not going to play with it, but if something sells you want to know about it -- same way when you go to sell, you know,  you might go to sell on eBay, you might wholesale out, you might have a store where certain things are great in your store and other things should be on eBay.  Maybe you have vintage watches, maybe there's a great market on eBay for vintage watches, maybe that would sell a lot better there than on the top shelf of the store,  there's certain items that are heavy, they are one of a kind things where you know very narrow amount of people might need it, that might be a good craigslist item, they can stay local, come pick it up, and then they can come pick it up at your place. I would just say that networking with people is very good, it's the best thing that anyone can do, and find out who likes to buy and sell this, who likes to buy and sell that, and get a big group of stuff and say you have a bunch of 4 holed main  engines in there, you don't want to just go scrap them to the scrap guy, no, you want to sell them to the guys that understand these engines and the race components for the 4 bolt main or whatever so I just think that everybody needs to absolutely research what they have, figure out the best way to squeeze money out of it, and don't fall in love with any of it.  If you buy something for a dollar and you can sell it for 2 or 3, great.  If you buy something for a dollar and you only get 90 cents for it, sell the damn thing, keep that 90 cents and re-invest it, and that's what I would say - it's a total roll-over of money, every time you spend a dollar, make your 2 or 3 back.  If you lose a little bit, don't look back, just go, you know, don't, if there's a lot of people in self-storage that day, go look at something else, go find something else, learn who to trust go to an estate sale, when someone's done with an estate sale they've always got stuff there.  A lot of times they'll just give that to someone as long as they clean out the house, or they'll sell it to someone for a little price as long as they clean out the house, so with all these things going on right now, the foreclosure market is just rampant over the nation and I guarantee you that there are companies like Field Asset Service and all the different ones  that are national companies that are hiring people to go and get stuff out of storage and throw it away or put it in storage and sell it depending on what the laws are in that state, so I would say, that you know, I would be working with brokers and stuff that would go and clean out some foreclosures. Looking at every little angle where there might be something for sale and that's where people need to be. I think if the whole nation got off their ass and did that we would be out of trouble. 
Rebecca:  Yeah, we were just talking about that a little while ago before you called.

SH: What do you feel, we didn't expect to have run-ins with former tenants, but we've had quite a few in the last couple of months.  Do you, have you had a crazy instance of a tenant showing up at auction and what's the craziest example of that and what resolved it  or how did the situation resolve itself?
DD: Okay, that's uh, a totally loaded question, because it's happened many times, and I've had everything from the 25 year old gang banger that I thought was going to shoot me to the 75 year old woman that has lost her mind doing snow angels on her stuff and I've seen everything that you can imagine in terms of people coming.  I think what you need to remember when you're doing dealings with these people who have lost it, you should never give them a home address or a home phone or anyway that they can trace you, you should always call from a blocked number or a pay phone or someway that they can't get back ahold of you.  You should  always arrange to take the stuff back to the facility, you know, the personal items, and not have to deal with these people.  If in the event that someone says, I'll pay you triple your money, great, you just need to make sure that you don't bring them to your house and they might end up on your doorstep at 1:00 in the morning with an attitude, you don't need them to know who you are or to drag you into any kind of legal problems. If you are going to deal with somebody and try to sell them their stuff back which is perfectly acceptable but not necessary, you know personal items and photographs and passports, you should give that stuff back, but stuff that has value, that you can sell anywhere, there's not a problem with selling stuff back to the former tenant.  You just want to do it right. You want to have that stuff in your truck, you want to meet them in a public place, if you've told them a certain amount of money that they need to have to get the stuff back you want to meet them and have them show you the money before it comes off the truck, they pay you the money.  You've got it, pay me, help me get the stuff off the truck, and have a good day, and that's the way that it should be. 
Rebecca:  Brian's nodding, he's a lot like you, so y'all would get along famously.

If anyone is wondering what Dan would sound like as a Walmart greeter...  you heard it here first, folks!

It was late for them in California and even later for us here, so it was definitely time to go, but we made sure to tell Dan to visit us if he ever comes down to New Orleans!

We hope you enjoyed the interview!  100 blogs down, 100 more hopefully to go. Thanks so much for sticking with us so far!    In the meantime, check out the endorsement Dan made for us to bring more traffic to our site!

Our thanks to Dan Dotson, of American Auctioneers,  for being so kind as to interview with us, and Storage Treasures who made this all possible.  Storage Treasures is probably the single most important resource for someone new to this business, so you definitely want to make sure you sign up on their website -- they provide great auction tips and compile them in a way that makes them easy to find and easy to network with other people in this business, whether it is the stay-at-home Mom who lists her items on eBay or the picker from Texas who has his own store, or people like us.  There are forums for advice, figuring out what your item is worth, connecting with other auction goers in your area, and even forums where you can ask Dan Dotson, Dave Hester, The Redneck Picker, and other celebrities in our industry whatever questions you would like!    Storage Treasures is also one of the only sites that provides information on auctioneers, facilities, and dates and times of auctions for free-- giving you a dashboard where you can bookmark and pin your favorite locations for future reference.  Additionally, there are a ton of contests -- most recently an iPad was given away, and there are all kinds of goodies from Storage Wars!   There's a contest going on now, in fact, on Twitter, one lucky reader who retweets ST's latest tweet will win their own signed Elvis newspaper (found in a unit by Dave Hester and featured on an episode of Storage Wars)-- so get right on that!  Throughout the interview, you'll hear the voice of Dan Dotson, and also the voice of Lance Watkins of Storage Treasures.  We're glad that we're friends with both of these gentlemen and expect nothing but even greater things from both of them in the future!  (Even if they AREN'T Saints fans!)

Until next time,

Storage Heroes

PS - We've received lots of feedback on this blog that Dan just talks TOO FAST for most of you to keep up with!  We'll be adding transcript to certain questions soon, so make sure to check back to this blog... ADDED!

PPS -  If you're a new reader to this blog, welcome!  You can see a pretty good conglomeration of our tips and posts here:  Best of Storage Heroes Compilation


  1. What an interesting way to make a living! Ironically, I make mine providing garage storage solutions at

    We have award winning wall supported garage storage shelving kits that are easy enough to install that the average homeowner can tackle it in a matter of hours! Check us out!

    1. Would you fuck off with your spam bullshit. Do you think anyone actually clicks through?

  2. Am I the only one having trouble understanding what Dan is saying??

  3. No you aren't! We've added transcription so go back and read your favorite questions! Don't forget to keep the comments coming as one lucky reader will win the chance to listen to the ENTIRE conversation!

  4. Storage Treasures in just not for the newbi. I've been around awhile and keep learning new tips and tricks all the time. With the tips and shows, my storage buys in the last year have been 100% profitable.

  5. Dan, I cannot stand you or your fake ass wife. Every single time I hear Laura scream "woooooo" or "allllll righttttt" when they cut the lock off of the locker and open it up, it makes me want to hang myself from the ceiling fan. Her fake excitement and your smoke-infused toupee' truly deserve each other.Maybe once this crap-tastic show is cancelled, you can move on up to selling organs on the black market. WOOOOOOOOOO!!!

    1. Not everyone can love us, You sound like an open caring loving person that somehow turned into an asshole, if you need help send me a mailing address and I will mail you the needed rope, free postage

      Dan Dotson

    2. Best. Reply. EVER.

      I'll chip in on that postage. ;-)

    3. I thought I was the only person who HATED Laura. I am sorry but when she belts out "and don't forget to pay the lady" I am secretly praying that someone stiffs her for a bill. She does come across as fake and I do sense favortism when I watch the show. Be honest, the only reason I watch it is because of Barry's humor & Brandy's tits.

  6. Hi Dan,I am from the netherlands and we always
    look at the show on tv here...its always on sunday.
    Love to see what they all buy and always feel sorrow for mr.Weiss.....Keep it up and good luck to your show!!
    A Dutch fan!

  7. Who cares if it's real or contrived, it's harmless entertainment, which is more than can be said for most reality tv. I would like to know what all Dan's 'goddabiddabidda' stuff is though in between his blinks....

  8. please please just stop with the "wooo!". i enjoy the show but that yell makes me crazy. i sometimes have to change the channel. sorry.

  9. I have to agree. Laura ruins the show! I can't stand it when I hear "alright folks", or "pay the lady". Does she ever close her mouth? It seems as if she always has this fake creepy smile going on. Really Dan leave your wife at home, she provides nothing to the show. She laughs at anything someone says. She is so fake it makes me wonder how she is still there. Just one more thing Dan. Does she laugh when you'll are in the bed? Just sayin

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