Pawn shows are passe. The hot TV trend is storage.

A&E’s “Storage Wars,” above, started season 2 last night. TruTV launched “Storage Hunters” in June. Spike TV has “Auction Hunters.” The premise: Storage facilities auction off the contents of abandoned units. Bidders get minutes to eyeball stuff, and then the battle begins. Sometimes they pay way too much for junky junk! Then again, antiques, vintage toys, booze, cash and even a Picasso have turned up.

What’s the backstory? Lance Watkins, CEO of Storage Outlet, which participates in “Storage Wars,” fills us in.

» Auctions are a last resort if a renter who abandons a unit can’t be located.
» Depending on state law, unclaimed stuff is usually auctioned after 120 to 150 days (see to find nearby auctions).
» Most stored stuff is boring: furniture, clothes, appliances.
» From a unit’s auction proceeds, the facility covers a renter’s unpaid bill and makes a good-faith effort to send any surplus to the renter. Otherwise, the state gets it.
» One in nine Americans has a unit. We’re world leaders in the field! Watkins explains, “We have more stuff.”

Photo by Stuart Pettican/A&E
Written by Express contributor Marc Silver