For anyone who knows (or thinks they know) anything about the self-storage biz, that catchphrase is tantamount to the industry’s new anthem. As the trademark bidding yuuup of Dave Hester, the gladiatorlike black-clad villain of A&E’s improbable hit Storage Wars, it’s also become the rallying cry for a show that’s single-handedly spawned its own niche of storage documentaries, pulling back the veil on this once-dark business and forever altering the way Americans view the stuff they stow (and forget) in lockers across the country. Like a contemporary adaptation of a Jack London or Robert Louis Stevenson novel — think Gold Rush–meets-Real Housewives — the show follows four bidders risking ever-increasing sums of cash on abandoned storage lockers in and around Los Angeles in hopes of uncovering buried treasures ranging from antique coin collections to rap impresario Suge Knight’s wardrobe.
As a second-generation storage buyer who learned the resale business trawling Santa Ana, Calif., swap meets with his Marine Corps veteran father, Hester, aka Mogul, owns an eponymous auction house and bids up other buyers with the remorseless glee of a conquering dictator. He’s seen every side of the business, from the junk you couldn’t give away on Craigslist to precious antiques he’s auctioned at Christie’s, and he’s frequently the winner in the show’s high-stakes matches (as defined by the value of booty tallied at the conclusion of each episode).
Which is all the more reason I’m more than a little surprised by the absence of Hester’s Kong-sized Yuuup! truck at Gardena, Calif.’s Storage Outlet Self Storage. It’s 8:30 on a Tuesday morning, and a fast-moving production crew (with two sound guys and four cameramen) is scurrying across the lushly trimmed hardscape of South Western Avenue to film the talent’s entrances and exits for Storage Wars’ eagerly anticipated third season. First on the docket are “Rookie” duo Jarrod Schulz and Brandi Passante, a couple from Orange County who blaze into the parking lot in a jacked-up Ford F-250. One-upping them — as is the purview of a man who considers himself the godfather of the business, with 33 years experience under his belt — is San Diego native Darrell “the Gambler” Sheets (nicknamed for his penchant to flip quarters for $100) in his equally roided-out F-350 Power Stroke. The Mogul is nowhere to be found — and will be conspicuously truant throughout the first month of filming — with the network claiming, “We love Dave and hope he will be back on the show.”