“Hey girrrrrrl!” were Jesse McClure’s first words when I caught up with the Storage Hunters veteran to hear about his new show and his secrets to earning “SERIOUS MONEY”.
Following the success of Storage Hunters, the Californian money-meister and self-proclaimed “Resale King” has a new venture: British Treasure, American Gold.
The show is certainly an original take on the world of antiques and trading and sees McClure hurtling around the UK in his 1978 black Pontiac Firebird (named Lily) searching for antiques and collectibles.
He visits everywhere from Blackpool to Burton upon Trent, rifling through car boot sales and stately homes to find valuable artefacts (such as Elton John’s gold plated sink) to send back to his family’s antique business in Los Angeles.
So obviously, the question on everyone’s lips is: Can Jesse McClure show us his money making ways?
“I can divulge a few secrets if you want…”
THE GOLDEN RULES OF BUYING
1. Find stuff that’s rare abroad.
"In LA, I know that classic rock vinyls sell for a TON of money. They make good money. But even better, when something is from a different country, that can really drive up the price. And that's how I've been making SERIOUS money.
"For example, there was a worn out UK Sgt. Pepper Beatles vinyl I bought for seven quid and I sold it in my antique mall last month for $60."
You’re already saying “quid”? Excellent use of British lingo.
"Oh yeah, I'm already in there. Don’t worry, I’ll say 'banter' and 'to be fair' soon. It's weird. Get out ma head, British people."
2. DON’T be lazy
"You can find a good deal anywhere. The way you can be ten steps ahead of everyone else is to GET past the laziness. STOP being lazy. Whether it's an auction house, an antique fair, or even if you know your neighbours are trying to sell something and they let you in their attic and you can poke around, it's having that INITIATIVE to go where no one else has gone. Work a little harder than anyone else. I've got so dirty digging through other people's garages and barns but if I find one thing that's going to make me enough money to buy, I don’t know, a taxidermy giraffe – then it’s worth it."
3. Get out of London
"It’s all about looking for those stones that haven't been turned over yet. It's having that initiative to wake up on a weekend at 5am and be the first one at a car boot sale in Stoke on Trent or Accrington or Bradford or Burnley – when there's only 10 people there it's FAIR GAME. You have much less competition, not to mention the prices are significantly less than in London."
4. Avoid trends and fads
"People start losing their money and their ASS when they try and do this carbon copy of a trend or a fad and they're on the tail end of it, because by the time you find out about it… it's already too late. It's already too late, okay? You gotta get creative. Gotta get your hands dirty."
5. Do your research
"If you have something that may be owned by a famous person, an autograph, or a piece of memorabilia, then you need to get the back story and make sure it’s authentic. Elton John’s sink from his private jet, for example, that was a quirky, quirky thing. I got the back story, went to Google images and searched "elton john private jet", went through archives and archives of photos to hopefully find ONE picture of Elton John in his bathroom on his private jet. And sure enough, there it was.
"It's a lot of leg work, but it all comes back to the same thing: working your ASS off to get the deal done."
Have you ever taken a gamble that didn't pay off?
"I bought an old scooter on the show and I lost my tushy."
Lost your tushy?
"I lost my butt. I lost my ass. It's slang. It's slang for losing money. OOHHH I love British people. So yeah I didn’t make any money on it. But if I lose money, at least I gain a lesson."
GOLDEN RULES OF HAGGLING
Lots of people struggle with haggling… do you have any tips?
"HAHAHAHAHA no. BRITISH people struggle with haggling. Okay…
1. Confidence. Gotta be confident.
2. Don't be as interested in the item as you really are.
3. Body language. Pat the item a couple of times.
4. Research, use the internet to compare prices.
5. Get creative: there's a couple of ways to do that. One, having FUN. If you try to be personable with the seller they tend to like you a little more and they could do you a deal. But you can also have an aggressive approach. If you physically held the cash in your hand and put it right in front of their face and say ‘Here is the money, I can give it to you right now” and waved £500 in their face, they'd be keen to want it. "
What’s your most recent success?
"The Bank of England put on a charity auction yesterday and sold off the very first of the new £5 notes to the public. Getting a £5 note that has a serial number of 00001 means you'll have the very first one. It's first edition. Like a first edition Picasso.
"So anyway, at the auction notes 1 to 16 went to the Queen, and then they auctioned off 17, 18, 19 and 20. Number 17 went for over £4000. I managed to pick up serial number 20 which I'll put on eBay for $10,000.
"I’ve got a few more of these and when the show comes out I’m gonna be giving away serial number 144 because that’s the channel number for Quest. Not just as a giveaway but for people to potentially resell it so they can learn themselves how to get into it."
How will you choose who gets it?
"I dunno, maybe if they have cool facial hair, or they do a dance... I don’t know I’m still thinking about it."
What’s next for Jesse?
"I’m just driving around the UK trying to find the next big thing. Hopefully along the way I’ll find a pretty British girl that I can marry and she can take care of me."
British Treasure, American Gold starts tonight at 8pm on Quest