A&E, TruTV and History Channel have all gorged on the whole antiques/auction/pawn shop phenomenon. Now Travel Channel has jumped in with “Baggage Battles.”
In it, bargain seekers go to auctions held at airports around the world where people who forget to ID their lost baggage and freight see their stuff auctioned off. It definitely has a lottery element to it, very much like “Storage Wars.” You can’t open the bags so you buy the bag and hope something cool is inside – and not just someone’s dirty underwear.
I talked to spirited El Segundo, Calif. antique shop owners Laurence and Sarah Martin, regulars on the show who have also appeared several times as appraisors on the crazy popular “Storage Wars” on A&E.
In tonight’s episode at 10 p.m. of “Baggage Battles,” they visit Atlanta for a few days and attend a freight auction where they buy stuff by the pallette. They also check out a police auction and a customs auction packed with confiscated goods. The shows were taped in March.
“Some of it is unclaimed stuff,” Laurence said, of the freight auction. “Some of it is returned stuff. I believe a lot of the stuff comes from major corporations.”
They ended up with a stack of vinyl records which included a rare Beatles record that made Laurence sing, “We love you, yeah, yeah, yeah!” (You can watch a preview of them with their LP stash here.)
Of the eight episodes, the couple said they made money on six of the trips. And sometimes, the bags themselves are worth the bids. “We bought a Montblanc roller bag for $500,” Laurence said, “and we sold the bag alone for $1,000.”
But with the publicity a show like this generates, aren’t they creating more competition? “In a word, yes,” Sally said. “But that’s the whole point. They’re real auctions with real people with real stuff. It’s not necessarily easy to find out where they are. The Travel Channel does a good job telling people how to find these auctions. The next time we go, we’ll have a lot more friends with us.”
“It’s a public service,” Laurence added. “These folks end up with all these bags. They have to get rid of them somehow. You get junk or jackpots.”
So far, the publicity from the show, which has only aired a couple of episodes, hasn’t generated more business for the Martins off their website or Studio Antiques retail shop, but they are having fun and enjoy the trips (and whatever salary “Baggage Battles” pays them to be cast members.)
Sally said both she and Laurence are sentimentalists and like old stuff. They have a younger staff guy named Mark who will buy newer equipment like smartphones and such.
Laurence said they try not to overpay but “auction fever” can kick in at times. “You can get carried away,” he said, “especially as a newbie. Or an oldie like us.”
“Baggage Battles,” Travel Channel, 10 p.m. Wednesdays
By Rodney Ho, Radio & TV Talk