If you haven’t already discovered Storage Hunters and the cult of Jesse McClure then it’s high time you took a long, hard look at your life.
Essentially a badass, container-based, version of Bargain Hunt, the show has been a staple of Freeview channel Dave’s daytime schedule for some time now and makes for essential viewing on those long Sundays spent nursing a hangover.
McClure is more than just your average TV personality though – he lives and breathes antiques for real with offices in the UK and US and a family with collecting in the blood.
A unique fusion of David Dickinson, minus the tan and Bam Margera, minus the insane stunts, McClure is back on British screens with a new show, British Treasure American Gold, which he describes as “Jackass meets Antiques Roadshow”.
Ahead of the show’s airing on Quest, Jesse sat down with loaded to talk collecting tips, Britney Spears’ thong and Sean Kelly’s distinctive auction style.
loaded: Is the UK an untapped market for American treasure?
Jesse: Absolutely. The word ‘antiques’ is so subjective because, for me, an antique is, coming from California, something that feels like yesterday for you guys.
My state is only 200 years old. For me to come across things that are 300 or 400 years old and bring that back to Los Angeles – it’s stuff my customers have never seen before.
Offering a variation to something they are collecting or buying is something I can make a ton of money on – and I have on this show.
loaded: What sort of things sell well?
Jesse: A good example is classic rock vinyl which is getting really hot again. I’m having a lot people buying vinyl from your typical groups: The Who, The Beatles, Rolling Stones etc.
For me to bring over UK pressings of those vinyl that they collect well, firstly I have no competition out there and secondly I can put a premium on that. So I get people paying $60 for a vinyl I bought for maybe £2-£3. The potential for making a profit is immense.
loaded: What tips can you offer to any budding collectors?
Jesse: I always say the same thing: only buy and sell things you enjoy.
If you buy and sell the things you like, you are going to be interested in buying, you are going to know more about it and, at the end of the day, if you fail you are stuck with a bunch of stuff you enjoy.
I started out was a 13-year-old kid buying Nintendo NES games- I think my first was Super Mario Bros . 3 – and ended up with 34 arcade machines in three locations making $1000 a month.
That’s simply through reinvesting my money and only buying and selling things I liked.
“On Storage Hunters, I started out as the show’s antagonist, before becoming a sort of antihero”
loaded: You bought Britney Spears thong on British Treasure American Gold – can you tell us a bit about it?
Jesse: Well, I actually tried giving it to my dad to hang in his office in LA but he didn’t want it. It’s a funny item, the way it’s displayed. It comes off as a bit perverse. You’ll have to watch the show to see the story of how I acquired it – it’s pretty funny.
At the end of the day though, I don’t care if you are a creeper or the biggest Britney fan. I don’t even care what you do with them – money is money. Just don’t tell me about it.
loaded: Is the tension on Storage Hunters real or for the cameras?
Jesse: Yeah, it’s 100% real and that’s my strategy. I like getting under the skin of people that deserve it. I don’t start fights for the sake of starting fights, but if you are asking to get punched in the face I will be more than happy to give you what you are asking for.
On Storage Hunters, I started out as the show’s antagonist, before becoming a sort of antihero once viewers started to get that I was getting under other people’s skin because they deserved it.
It’s not just fun for me it’s also funny for the viewers and throws people off, helping me make money.
loaded: So is that how you approach all auctions?
Jesse: I recently went down to London to an auction, where they were selling off some of the new polymer £5 notes with the lowest serial numbers.
There I was, alongside all these fancy British men, screaming trying to throw off the auctioneer, storage hunters style, to get one. I spent £1,200 on number 20 but am probably going to put in on eBay for £10,000
I acquired it with the same mentality – throwing people off, getting under their skin, being loud and a little bit aggressive.
“I can never get past adult toys and I find them all the time in storage units”
loaded: Who was your biggest nemesis on Storage Hunters?
Jesse: There was always that couple that I prefer not to name because they are terrible human beings (Brandon & Lori Bernier). Basically, anyone that came out with an ego that wasn’t justified. People that were trying to make themselves look better than anyone else.
Off the show they were even worse, though that fuelled my fire and made me focus.
loaded: Are you still in touch with any of the old gang?
Jesse: There’s Sean Kelly (the auctioneer) but everyone else has, for lack of a better word, gone bust. I don’t know the circumstances, but I think you can see who is real and who knows their stuff. I’m still putting money in my pocket.
loaded: What do you think of Storage Hunters UK?
Jesse: I did two episodes of that show and while I am grateful for the experience I don’t think I would do anymore. The focus has been too much about gimmicky characters trying to get in the spotlight with catchy one-liners.
loaded: What’s been your weirdest purchase?
Jesse: I can never get past adult toys and I find them in storage units all the time . I’ve also come across cat ashes, or at least that’s what I tell myself so I don’t get freaked out.
loaded: Can you explain Sean’s unique auctioneering style to us?
Jesse: This is one of those things that is annoying. I love doing charity work and charity auctions but every time I get asked to it Sean Kelly style.
Sean’s style isn’t a storage auction style or even American auction style. It’s the kind of auctioneering style that you use when selling livestock. He’s just refined it.
People often think all he does is shout ‘hundred pound now bidder brrrrrrr’ and makes a kind of rumbling noise but what he’s actually staying is “bidder now.’
So it’s like: ‘hundred pound bidder now, bidder now, bidder now, two, two hundred pound bidder now, bidder now’ and starts rolling. I try to avoid it – best leave it to the pro.
British Treasure American Gold starts Wednesday 19th October at 8pm on Quest. Freeview Channel 37, Youview 37, Sky 144, Virgin 172.