Autumn in the North Cemetery.

Sixty miles west of Boston, Massachusetts there is the small New England town of Sturbridge. Located at the junction of I-90 (The Mass Pike), and I-84 it has become known as the "Crossroads of New England". The town was first settled over 300 years ago, and like other small New England towns it has grown just enough over the years to be in a difficult place today. How do we embrace the future without forgetting how we got to our present? How do we attract the right kind of growth, and maintain who we are? And, what about our culture out here in Central Massachusetts?

These pages will cause one to think about how to protect what we have, our future direction, and how to move on in the very best way.

Those thoughts, and other ramblings, will hopefully inspire more thought, conversation, action, and occasionally a smile...

...seems to be working so far

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Interesting Concept...., But Where Is It?

TV Treasure Hunters Turn their Sights on Storage Units

by John Stevens October 25, 2010 8:55 PM TV Treasure Hunters Turn their Sights on Storage Units

What’s behind door number one? How about door number two? These doors aren’t part of a game show, they belong to storage units. The auctioning off of stuff packed inside abandoned storage units is becoming an exciting trend. A purchaser could either have acquired a gold mine or a dud during an auction. Either way, each abandoned storage unit is a sort of time capsule. Some have not been opened since they were initially abandoned 15 or 20 years ago.

The practice has even made its way to the air ways. On Nov. 9, Spike TV’s “Auction Hunters” will premier its first show of the new season based on the auctioning of storage units. More than 10,000 storage units are put up for auction each day throughout the country. The premise of all of the show’s half-hour episodes, which focus on different forms of auctioning, is for Clinton "Ton" Jones and Allen Haff to acquire abandoned treasure and sell it for profit. The first show puts them in the heart of L.A. In one storage unit Allen finds a rare 1910 copper cash register and Ton unearths a mint condition 1970's German H&K P7 pistol.

It is suspenseful to watch as treasure seekers open a storage unit and sort through all the antiques, books, jewelry, and more. Sometimes as audiences watch an auctioned-off storage unit being opened, they can get a bit overly excited.
“Everybody thinks it’s going to be their big break, and they overreact and over dramatize things,” Mr. Jones said in a recent New York Times article. “It makes me want to cut out my eye with a hot soldering iron.”

The two attended an auction in Queens, paying about $200 for five storage units. Apparently it is storage industry norm for the auctioneer to flash a glimpse of the pile of loot in the storage units before the auction has ended. The two did acquire a cookie jar shaped like a kitten on a beehive, tapered spice bottles, and a 1938 autograph album from Harlem middle school which the stars of the show decided to return to the school.

It is always exciting when antiques show up in storage units, as their value is estimated while the enraptured audience looks on. Cable shows about vintage objects are popping up like dandelions. One such show is “Antique Warriors,” which takes the viewer inside stores under construction in SoHo and Sturbridge, Mass.

What started the antique trend on TV was, of course, PBS’s “Antiques Roadshow,” which has been aired since 1997. The show’s executive producer, Marsha Bemko, said she looked forward to the new shows and hoped they would remind people to investigate their possessions before giving them up by selling them for a few bucks at a tag sale or leaving them for waste in an abandoned storage unit. “What is nice to see is this great appreciation and enthusiasm for old things,” Bemko said recently in the New York Times. “If we’ve helped spread that passion, great.”

From Self Storage Industry News


  1. @ Blog Fan: 你讓我笑,草蜢

  2. Whatever happened to the picnic tables? There was a bunch of people who donated money. Where are the tables? Are they in storage?

  3. $196.00 was collected for the picnic tables on the Common, far less than the amount needed for even one modern table. There were several people that donated. After a lengthy amount of time on the blog asking for contributions, there were no further donations. I took the Donation section off the blog in the spring of 2010 with hopes of sparking an interest later on. I hoped that at enough money for one table could be donated. I don't think that the interest is currently there. I had planned on turning over the $196.00 to the Department of Recreation for them to apply towards other needs on the Common. If you would like to contribute, please send along a donation, and I will forward it to the town. Thanks for following up.

  4. Is that legal? If was money was donated for one thing and used for another?

  5. Picnic tables run about $800.00 plus. $196.00 was donated, far less than what was needed. If you would like to contribute to the collection, please do. Any amount would be welcome, and appreciated Sometimes one makes a goal, sometimes one doesn't. It's like the United Way. You aim for a certain amount to get the job done, but will gladly accept whatever people are kind enough to give.

    If you would like more information about this, write me at In case you would like to make a donation, you can send it to my home address at 60 Brookfield Road Fiskdale, MA 01518. Thanks!

  6. But what about my question. The money donated for one thing is being giving to another. Is that legal? Did the donors ok that?

  7. They donated towards one thing, and hoped enough would contribute to make the goal, and if the goal was not meant, then whatever was collected would be donated to the town. This was pointed out several times in postings over the year and a half. If there is a way to make this clearer for you, and I have missed it, please let me know. If you would like to make a donation, please do.

  8. I Can See Clearly NowWednesday, October 27, 2010

    It looks to me like someone is trying to be intimidating here, probably because he or she wants to muscle the window and curtains closed that someone else opened to let in the fresh air and sunshine. Welcome to the world of Sturbridge politics, Wally. Those who have always tried to intimidate anyone who would dare question their agendas have learned to blog.

  9. @ "I can see clearly now": Thank you. No worries. Some folks just need more information than others.

  10. Hey, I'm going to horn in on this blogversation because I know a little about fundraising, donations, and donors. It's apparent that Wally's heart was and still is in the right place; but when people make donations, they expect the money will go to that thing they originally supported.

    If Wally stated in his original blog post that if the goal wasn't met the money would be turned over to the town, then Wally, it's recommended that you do that as soon as you can.

    However, if you did not state clearly in your original post that the money would be redirected to another use if the goal was not met, then the correct thing to do is to ask the donors if they want their money back, or if they mind that you redirect their funds for another purpose.

    Even if you posted a later comment about redirecting funds; I'm sorry, but I don't think that's clear enough. Those donors may not come back to your site and know that.

    Also, since you're thinking about giving the money to the town's rec department, the correct thing to do is to talk with them first to see if they will accept or want the money and what they will use it for so the donors will be informed.

    Whenever money changes hands for donation purposes, donors should receive a letter from the receiving entity, too. If not for IRS/tax purposes, then just because it's nice to hear "thank you."

    When "I can see clearly now" trys to turn that question into a political issue, what I see clearly is how unbalanced that thought process is. All I've read about for weeks now on this blog are complaints about the Haynes Street intersection, how town employees have to cross that intersection, the sidewalk - or lack thereof - next to town hall, the front door/ADA issue - and yet, when someone asks the question about the donated money collected, "I can see clearly" calls it a political thing?

    When money is collected for any public purpose, especially one that involves the town, anyone can ask any question, at any time, and they deserve an answer.

  11. Boy, I wish the collection for the tables had this much attention a year ago!!
    We could have made the goal!! Thanks to all, and if you would still like to contribute, please use the address I gave earlier. The funds collected will be given to the town end of the calendar year, and as previously stated, no matter how much, or how little is donated , it will still be donated.

    Thanks again!!

  12. Regarding the original subject of this article, I'm a little confused. The article states:
    "It is always exciting when antiques show up in storage units, as their value is estimated while the enraptured audience looks on. Cable shows about vintage objects are popping up like dandelions. One such show is “Antique Warriors,” which takes the viewer inside stores under construction in SoHo and Sturbridge, Mass."
    Does this mean that "Antique Warriors" takes viewers inside stores, under construction, which will feature things found abandoned in storage facilities?

  13. @ Anonymous: I have no idea, but this subject came across my desk twice in the past week, and I thought I would put it out there for others to see. I was hoping to get more information myself. From what I absorbed from the this and the other source, it seems that a store front is (already here) being built to stage a reality TV show based on selling antiques.

  14. Thomas R. CreamerFriday, October 29, 2010

    As a donor to the Tables on The Common initiative, I thought it important to weigh in on this discussion. I can speak only for myself but wish to make it clear that I have no reservations about the management of the fund and would note that in a previous post by Wally titled “I want your money” it was conveyed that Wally would “either turn the gift over to Jim Malloy, or with the Towns assistance, order them (the picnic tables) myself”. Based upon this statement (though not specifically called out, one could reasonably presume that the intent was to convey the funds donated to the Town (i.e. Recreation Department via the Town Administrator).

    In terms of the questions asked, I think it important to consider that it is absolutely fair and responsible for individuals to raise questions; I’ve certainly had no reservations about same in my 7 plus years as a Sturbridge resident. Our entire existence is based upon asking probing questions; it is in the absence of those questions that unintended mistakes or nefarious acts occur. To suggest someone had a less than admirable motive for asking any questions, is in my humble opinion, somewhat dismissive.

    It is not the questions asked that we as individuals should be so concerned about, but rather, the manner in which they are answered. Honest, straightforward answers will surely serve as the best means of addressing questions, not the suggestion that said questions are inappropriate simply because we may not like them. To be sure, one may or may not like the answers provided, as all too often we tend to want the answers to be what we want them to be, but the reality is that factual and honest answers are just that, factual and honest. So too, honest and factual questions though not be preferred or liked by some, are no less relevant or vital. In fact is monumentally imperative that questions are asked. Thus, my personal belief is that we should celebrate and relish in the questions asked; equally so, the answers provided, allowing each to stand on its own merit.

    When individuals fail to question, there is then no accountability, no balance, and certainly, such provides fertile ground for dishonesty. Consider this, an honest and factual question was asked; Wally could have simply decided not to publish it, instead he published it and answered it. Readers will have to determine the value of Wally’s answer. I can tell you that for me, as I stated previously, I have no reservations about the management of the fund, if I did, I would have mentioned such to Wally during one of our conversations over the past year.

    Most important in all of this for me personally, as I now read the dialogue in these comments, is something far more comprehensive than the Tables on the Common – that being the manner by which some view the “audacity” of those who dare question anything. That I think is of greater concern. Wally demonstrated his willingness to highlight a probing question, a writer or writers demonstrated willingness to ask the probing questions, while yet others questioned the veracity of those who would question.

    Perhaps those posters who felt it in poor taste for the question to be asked, might consider the example Wally set by posting and responding to the questions. Again, for me at least, the answers are what one should focus on, as they provide a great deal of insight into who someone is. I am, and have been confident that my donation will be directed to the cause or whatever variation such may take within the Recreation Committee, based upon the amount collected.

  15. It's interesting to find these comments hidden under an article about hidden treasures.

  16. Donating is a choice. Taxes are not.

  17. Perhaps it's because the picnic tables are thought of as hidden treasures.

  18. Wally, as long as the town doesn't use the money to scrub tire marks off of curbstones and sidewalks, we're fine and would be happy to donate more.


Anonymous comments not accepted, and will be rejected. Please use your full name. Choose "Name / URL" and enter your name, and your name ONLY. Leave "URL" blank.