Storage companies. Pawn brokers. Hoarders. Housewives. Connecticut Junk Removal? “Storage Wars,” which has been an A&E Network stalwart since 2010 may be in for some tough competition if Glen Jennings, owner of Connecticut Junk Removal, LLC has his way.
The family-owned Fairfield-based junk removal company is looking to capitalize on the reality TV craze. Hoping for an A&E deal of his own, Jennings has set up a YouTube channel where the company will live-stream their cleanups and hopefully have some special finds in preparation for their television pitch. The channel goes live on Dec. 7, with a planned weekly three- to four-hour long stream starting at 9 a.m.
"Every Saturday morning, we will have a crew outfitted with GoPro cameras to let viewers on YouTube see for themselves some of the amazing things we find," explained Jennings.
Connecticut Junk Removal, created by Jennings’ grandfather in 1941, has been a power in Fairfield County for 78 years, but it has seen its market share erode a bit thanks to giant national junk removers moving in.
“We’ve kept it small and manageable,” said Jennings, “and now we’re forced to try to do things differently.
“There were fewer than 10 junk removal companies in Fairfield County 10 years ago, now there’s 100. It’s a tremendous amount of change in this industry, but it’s also for the better. Sure has made it all crazy!”
“We entertain each other so much every day... It’s almost too much fun.”
Yes, the hoped-for show is part-marketing pitch, but Jennings insists his crew is made for this.
All of his eight full-time, long-time employees are like family, and the company has a pool of part-timers to call on as needed as well.
“You don’t normally find these types of personalities in junk removal,” he said about his team. “We entertain each other so much every day, we want to share this with other people. It’s almost too much fun.”
And don’t discount the potential family drama that naturally comes to play in junk removal that can rivet viewers.
Clients have been eager to participate, says Jennings. Offering free services if videos are used probably helps. No names or addresses will be used, only town location.
While the idea for a show had been percolating with Jennings for a while, it wasn’t until they were hired to do an estate clean-out at a Westport waterfront property roughly three months ago that his vision coalesced.
“This particular job is what set this video thing in motion,” admitted Jennings.
The individual who died had been a hoarder, especially of clothing, and gone unchecked for the past 20 years.
“It was astounding,” said Jennings. “While family took many of the personal possessions, there was still so much left. We could have opened a boutique! We ended up donating the clothing and filmed the entire clean-out.”
When you hire a junk removal company, everything they take away becomes theirs.
“Clothing goes to donation centers and there’s some stuff we’ll give away,” said Jennings. Most items just end up at the dump.
“The biggest overhead for our business is dump fees—they charge by the pound.”
They do keep items they feel they can refurbish and re-sell (usually on eBay or Craig's List), although without a large warehouse they have to be picky with what they keep.
“We can quickly determine what we should donate, give away or resell,” said Jennings. “It’s amazing what people throw away in Fairfield County. In other areas of the county, it’s probably different.”
"I could tell the quality when I took out the painting and recognized the potential value. When you find stuff, it's like treasure hunting."
Jennings believes about 75 percent of what companies like his remove in Fairfield County is salvageable. And that, according to Jennings, makes things more interesting. He's counting on those unique finds.
One very interesting find was a painting by Arthur Wardle, a turn-of-the-20th-century British painter known especially for his paintings of dogs that proved quite lucrative when it became clear the family had no interest.
“I recognized the box right away,” recalled Jennings. “It was a box you ship paintings in. I could tell the quality when I took out the painting and recognized the potential value. When you find stuff, it's like treasure hunting.”
Jennings sold the Wardle for $10,000.
“When people are going through their own stuff, they have a better idea of what’s of value than when someone else does it, as after a death,” explained Jennings.
Adamant that people keep what they want, Jennings doesn’t recall ever having a client call and ask for something back because it was thrown away by mistake.
“Our family is related to one of the original pioneering families of Fairfield,” said Jennings. “We go back over 300 years; we’ve been here the whole time. It’s an old Yankee mentality we have and the whole recycling/waste disposal/junk removal is built into us. This is what we do. It's a fun job and we love it. I don’t know any other world.”