There are 6 million ways to get rich—who would have thought opening up old, musty storage units would be one of them? To father-and-son team Darrell and Brandon Sheets, there’s nothing more exciting than opening an abandoned old locker to sift through one man’s treasure and find gold. That’s the “wow factor,” as Darrell calls it.
A star on A&E’s show Storage Wars, Darrell has been in the business of buying publicly auctioned storage units and selling their contents for more than 30 years. Along the way, he says he’s found four original artworks by Picasso and one of the world’s largest comic book collections, among other unclaimed riches. “I just couldn’t believe that there was so much stuff and that you could make so much money off of it,” Darrell says of getting into the business after being fired from a pithy landscaping gig. Now they call him “The Gambler.”
A few years ago, producers approached Darrell about being on a show that highlights the little-known industry of buying and selling the stuff inside abandoned storage units. He was apprehensive. “At first, I didn’t want to do the show because I knew that once it got on TV, the business was going to be exposed,” Darrell remembers. “So I said, ‘You guys got to at least match what I’m making every year.’” Eventually Darrell and the network agreed on a price per episode.
Storage Wars, now in its second season on A&E, is the network’s highest-rated series of all time, with nearly 5 million viewers per episode. It’s even birthed a spin-off, Storage Wars Texas. Joining Darrell and Brandon are some other interesting characters. “Brandi [Passante] and Jarrod [Schulz], I like them. They’re a young couple—remind me a lot of me when I was young. Barry [Weiss] is just a crazy, cool old dude,” Darrell says. “But Dave Hester is the biggest asshole I’ve ever met in my life—on the show [and] off the show.”
With this kind of on-air (and off-air) drama, it’s nice to have someone in your corner. Darrell’s son, Brandon, joined the show after a few guest spots. He grew up going to auctions with his dad to buy storage units. “I saw that you could buy this stuff and make a quick profit by selling it at swap meets,” Brandon explains. “I was hooked.” The father-and-son team share almost everything, including a love of tattoos. “The connection with buying storage and tattoos is that they’re both very addicting,” Darrell says of the Sheets family ink. Darrell sports a jester on his arm and a woman who represents “things I want to be cautious of in my life.” Brandon is adorned with a Day of the Dead skull, “San Diego” in bold script, and a dirt bike sprocket.
When asked if there’s anything he wants viewers to know about him, Darrell simply says: “The thing people should keep in mind is that they need to pay their rent or I’m going to end up owning their stuff.” —Kara Pound