Guest Post: The World of Storage Auctions

Today our friends at were kind enough to share their experiences and expertise on the exciting world of storage auctions, in a post titled:

“The World of Storage Auctions”

Storage unit auctions could hold numerous hidden treasures…or not

Storage unit auctions are definitely nothing new but they are being brought to the public eye because of the success of different storage auction television shows. The shows are actually fairly accurate in their portrayal of what happens at a self storage auction. Everyone participating in the auction will arrive early so the auctioneer or storage facility employee can go over all of the rules, terms, and conditions of the auction. It is important to show up early and hear these rules because different rules may apply to different storage places. Most auctions will be live and very few of them will be silent but it’s important to pay attention to the rules since the facility can decide what they want to do at their own discretion.

Once the auction is over the high bidder must remove all contents from the storage unit within the given time that was specified by the self storage facility. Most of the self storage facilities won’t allow you to use their dumpsters or garbage cans and they expect you to clear out the entire facility and have it look as good as new by the time you’re done with it.

It’s important to note that participants at the auction are not allowed to go inside the self storage unit because it is not yet their property. Everyone is allowed to look inside the storage space and that is how they base their bids at the auction. This basically means that you could find something hidden away from plain site that is extremely rare and valuable, or you could find nothing of any real value. It really is a gamble but the more auctions you participate in the better chance you have of finding something that is valuable.

The more prepared you are the better off you’ll be at a self storage center auction

Even though you truly have no idea what you’ll find at an auction it would help to know what you can expect to find at a storage auction. Just think about what people like to store away for awhile. For the most part you’ll come across household goods like furniture, electronics, and clothing. However you’ll know you found a good storage rental if you find some jewelry, antiques or collectibles, and a fair amount of trash too!

So now you know what to expect when you attend an auction at a self storage center but the question still remains, where can I find an auction? These auctions aren’t widely publicized but if you know where to look you can stay caught up in the game. Always check the storage places websites for any updates and from there you can even get the storage facilities phone number and call directly. Our own Site ( publishes this info in our RSS feed.

This should be able to help you find some storage auctions on your own in your area and now that you know where to go you need to know how to spend your money.

So how can storage facilities just get rid of someone’s personal belongings? When you agree to store your goods at their facility you sign paperwork and in that paperwork you agree to their enforcement rights to vacate non-paying tenants. It is very important to get familiar with these because they vary from state to state and are also known as lien laws. That is why often times the management of the facility will hold the auction instead of paying an outsider to do it. These auctions are open to the public but the tenant in lien still has the right to pay for the contents of their storage space up until the moment the auction begins.

Make some profit off of your recent auction winnings

Since you can’t go inside the self storage unit before you purchase it the only real tool you need is a bright flashlight. Most storage spaces aren’t lit so it is very hard to see all of the visible goods without a flashlight. Since this is one of the few investments you need to make the rest should be your profit. A lot of self storage auction participants tend to sell what they purchased in garage sales or online, such as eBay.

The day before the scheduled auction it is very important to be sure to double check with the storage companies to see if the auction is still on. Ask any seasoned auction goers why this is and they will tell you that so many renters tend to wait until the very last possible moment before they settle with the landlord, or storage facility. If they decided to settle and pay off their debt then the auction is off. So if you can call the facility the day before the auction takes place then you can find out if it is still on or not.

Most importantly use your better judgment when bidding on storage units. If what you see looks worn and weathered and rusted then odds are you don’t want to mess with it. If you see some boxes that are taped and sealed and the boxes look nice then there is a good chance the goods inside that box is going to be somewhat valuable. If a box appears to be opened then maybe something was taken out for a reason.

There is treasure out there to be had so good luck and happy hunting!

Blue Mound 287 Self Storage

How to Bid on the Auction Hunters eBay Listings

Find the Auction Hunters eBay Items

As the popularity of this special reality show increases, more and more viewers want to know how they can find the auction hunters listings on the online marketplace eBay. Because Ton and Allen showcase their best finds in each episode, it’s no surprise that plenty of fans stream online after each show to try and grab their piece of the action and buy up the very same items that the hunters recover during the storage auctions.

Getting to the Auction Hunters listings via eBay

Once every so often Ton and Allen and friends will post up an item to their eBay page, the proceeds of which will go to charity. In order to see the item currently being offered, you can try this link right here:

Unfortunately, searching for either spike_tv, the general user name of the channel, and spike tv_ah (which I assume specifies auction hunters) does not neatly return the results on eBay. Today, for example, clicking that link will take you to a black leather jacket that the auction hunters are auctioning off currently.

Alternatively, you can visit or bookmark: to get a quick trip to the overall store listing, which, as of right now, is none too populated.

Interesting that they don’t put up everything at once in an easy to find store, as I imagine it would be very profitable. What do you think? Have you seen anything appear on the auction hunters eBay page that you also saw on an episode?

Getting Lists of Upcoming Storage Auctions

Getting Reliable Lists of Storage Sales Near You

One of the most common questions I get from new and seasoned auction buyers alike is, “How can I get a list of all the upcoming storage auctions in my area?”. This would seem to be a simple enough question, right? Plenty of interested auction hunters want to know how they can save time and frustration with an orderly and well-kept list of the companies that are auctioning off their delinquent storage sheds, where they are located, and when the sale starts. It would seem, too, that these companies would themselves be interested in a tidy service that helped them to reach their interested client base of folks willing to show up to their property with cash to help them get rid of repossessed storage lockers. Unfortunately the fact of the matter is that there is no real tidy way to go about amassing this kind of list yet, at least not for the average Joe like you or me. Having attempted to make such a list myself, I can tell you how quickly you realize it’s an exercise in futility, even if you do get more than half of the property managers you call to answer and give up their information.

Simplifying the Process of Storage Auction Listing

Thankfully there is a solution to this problem of getting accurate lists of upcoming storage sales. Several different companies run premium listing services that keep track of all the upcoming auctions in a given area or even all of the states at once. They achieve this through a combination of database submissions, which allows many of the properties they track to login to the site and post their own event details, cold calling in order to flesh out the sectors where they are missing data, and professional research and media monitoring. Many of the best websites and storage auction listing services have a full staff working on keeping the lists up to date and accurate. They have to stay vigilant to keep up on the various changes that always occur, such as when one or more companies need to postpone or outright cancel their auction because several of their late tenants have actually paid up in full before the chop date.

How We Can Help

If you are looking for auction listing service, you should check out If you give them our special coupon code, Auctionkings1, you will get 10% off any subscription you order. Read more about this service and see a sample list, by clicking here. The way their pricing model works is that it’s based off of the sheer volume of listings available in the area you’re requesting. If you want storage auction listings in California, for example, you may end up paying more than for all the listings of upcoming sales in New Hampshire. This is because the company must devote more resources and man hours to maintaining an up to date list in the much larger state.

Why You Should Bother with Storage Auction Listings at All

After you have been to a few auctions yourself and seen what all the fuss is about, and especially after you have raked in your first profits, you’ll begin to realize the value and convenience of having a professional company handle all this work for you. Instead of fussing around by calling up local properties and getting inaccurate information or the classic run-around, you can simply have clean, reliable and up to date storage listings delivered to you regularly. Many times the subscription cost is only $5 per month (or less if you use our coupon code: Auctionkings1). If you want to read more about this service and see a sample list, click here.

If you really think about it, $5 per month is a pretty negligible price, especially when it means you will no longer have to call around from facility to facility trying to flag down an impatient manager. You can better spend this time preparing to hit all the repossessed locker sales in your area or listing your spoils from the last one you attended on eBay for greater profit.

Storage Auctions Listings

Finally! Reliable, accurate and easy to use Storage Auction Listings are available for special rates to all Storage Auctions Kings readers. Whether it’s your first time joining us on this site or you’re a seasoned auction hunter, we have exciting news. Thanks to our partnership with our friends over at Storage Unit Auction List, we are now able to offer all our readers a 10% discounts on monthly or yearly subscriptions to storage auctions listings in their area.

How to get discounted storage auction listings

It’s as easy as calling 800.353.8417 and telling them your special coupon code: Auctionkings1 to instantly receive 10% off whichever package you choose.

These storage auction listings are professional, constantly updated, and of absolutely unbeatable value for their low subscription price. All your storage sale listings will come to you like this:

Phone Address City County State Auction Date and Time #1
3368548330 111 EDWARDIA DRIVE Greensboro Guilford NC Jan 12 2010 10:00 AM
2527472102 65 Perry Drive Snow Hill Greene County NC Jan 27 2010 3:00 PM
9195756646 205 W East Street Butner Wake NC Feb 03 2010 2:00 PM
9192698200 4730 Old Us Highway 64 E Zebulon Wake NC Jan 07 2011 8:00 AM
8284375005 W Us Highway 70 Morganton Burke NC Jan 07 2011 10:00 AM
7046430870 7233 South Blvd Charlotte Mecklenburg NC Jan 07 2011 2:00 PM
9192312220 3410 Middle Branch Rd Raleigh Wake NC Jan 07 2011 10:00 PM
3366673358 912 River St Wilkesboro Wilkes NC Jan 08 2011 10:00 AM
7046420460 3218 S Main St Salisbury Rowan NC Jan 08 2011 10:00 AM
9196931043 202 Roxboro Rd Oxford Granville NC Jan 08 2011 10:30 AM

The names of the selling facilities have been withheld in this example, but you can see how a small monthly or yearly fee can deliver organized, effective and highly valuable auction lists directly to you. This small investment in your future will pay off tremendously as you find yourself freed up from all the frustrating and wasteful attempts to call up random facilities and ask for their next auction. Instead, you can have these professionally compiled storage auction lists sent directly to you, freeing up your time so you can better spend it preparing for the next big event, or catching some extra shut eye. Having professionally served storage auction listings is one small luxury that every auction buyer can afford – only a few dollars per month gets you exclusive access to all the big sales that can have you supplementing your regular monthly income in no time.

It’s as easy as calling 800.353.8417 and telling them your special coupon code: Auctionkings1 to instantly receive 10% off whichever package you choose.

Chateau Circular Disc Locks

Why Disc Locks Are Safer

These tough and enduring little circular locks have become a staple of mini storage properties, who want to market advanced security features to their concerned tenants. Whereas regular padlocks leave your storage unit vulnerable to bolt cutter attacks. Bolt cutters are like giant scissors that make very short work of the standard curved bolt found in most normal padlocks. The problem arises when your mini storage property isn’t very well secured or overseen. Anyone that already has permission to come onto property, such as a current tenant, can simply walk up and down the line of storage units, merrily snipping open the ones they want to go shopping for free in. If your property manager isn’t paying attention, then you can bet you are going to feel the hurt pretty soon when you show up to your now empty storage shed.

Chateau circular disc locks make this sort of thing very hard to do. You just can’t cut them using regular bolt cutters. I’ve tried. It’s not pleasant for the person trying to get through the lock. The reason you can’t use standard bolt cutters to open a circular disc lock is that only a small portion of the bolt is exposed in the first place, and it is extremely hardened, compared to normal padlocks. There’s not only much room for your bolt cutters to get a purchase on the disc lock but there’s simply not much they can do even when you do have them right on the money.

Defeating Disc Locks

Now, it is true that there are several different ways to defeat these advanced locks, but these methods are unwieldy and most of them would cause the kind of commotion that would get a would-be robber nabbed by the cameras or manager. An angle grinder can make fairly short work of circular disk locks, but angle grinders require power, meaning your thief would need to jack in to an outlet somewhere, unless he wants to run a gas generator from the back of his thief-truck. Not likely. Angle grinders also produce a good amount of sometimes very hot sparks, so your thief will have to be prepared with proper eye protection. Not to mention that there are certain blade types which are far more effective than others at opening these high security Chateau disc locks. The point is that your angle-grinder wielding thief would not be winning any awards for subtlety. Sometimes, depending on the positioning of the disc lock on the shed door, it can still take a couple of minutes of straight grinding for a robber to get clear through the lock, even if they know where it is weakest.

The other method for undoing a disk lock involves skill and knowledge. These locks can be “raked” open by a knowledgeable amateur locksmith using little more than a homemade tool and a lockpick. Once you have an understanding of this method, it is quick and relatively easy to pop the lock open, but it does require an understanding of where to apply pressure and how to coax the disc lock into releasing. What makes this method a higher risk to the average mini storage customer is that it is virtually silent and can be done quite quickly by someone proficient in the technique. Should your storage shed be out of the reach of the watchful eyes of cameras, you could be at risk of a raking attack. This is why back-up self storage security systems become so essential. Even if your thief gets past your manager, the cameras and through your disc lock, a good mini storage property will have individual unit alarms that know the person opening your unit could not be you, since you never coded into the gate.

Upselling Chateau Circular Disc Locks

You may notice self storage managers upselling these specialty locks during move-ins or while you’re in the office taking care of business. These circular locks are likely to be more expensive than normal padlocks, but usually only by a few dollars. It’s well worth the small investment in some piece of mind if you’re at all concerned about the safety of your belongings inside your storage shed. Some clever storage companies will run periodic specials, during which times they will offer you a free lock when you move-in. This is a nice perk, to be sure, but don’t be fooled. Usually if the company is offering you a free lock, you are more than paying for it somewhere else, be it some additional fees or a rate increase that is set to come down the pipes after you’ve been in your unit for a few months.

Still, you have to appreciate the extra security where you can get it. Will a Chateau disc lock on its own prevent disaster from befalling your unit, or foil a dedicated crook that’s intent on getting into your possessions? Absolutely not. But with the combination of a good electronic gate system, a competent manager, surveillance cameras and high security locks backed up by individual unit alarms, you can rest pretty easy knowing that there are multiple layers of protection working together to keep your things safe and out of harm’s way.

Buying Circular Disc Locks for Managers

The Most Secure Lock for Self Storage
Click here for the latest discounted disc lock prices

From a self storage manager’s perspective, the calculus of whether or not your should stock and sell these specialty disc locks is a little more complex. Everyone knows how constantly customers will come into the office complaining that they have lost their keys and need to get into their units. When your customers use normal padlocks, getting them back up and running is a snap – just pop their old lock off and sell or give them a new one. Unfortunately that’s not the case when you’re dealing with these high security circle locks. If you are the sole manager on property, a customer with a lost key means closing down the whole office, getting the appropriate gear and facemask, running multiple extension cables if you don’t have a nearby outlet, and then grinding away on a small object that is perfectly shaped so as to make it very easy for your angle grinder, now running at 7200 rpm, to kick outward, maybe toward your flesh.

Managing Disc Lock Cuttings

Some companies deal with this by telling customers that it’s their policy to schedule circle lock cuttings because they are so involved. They can’t be done right this instant. Naturally, self storage customers being the uniquely reasonable lot that they are, this may or may not go over well. Any decisions to stock and carry these circular disc locks must be weighed carefully. On the one hand, they can help you to increase your brand’s image by offering higher security. They can make your operation seem more professional and modern. This is all good and overtime should positively affect your revenue and market value in your area, especially against companies that do not offer disc locks for sale. On the other hand you have the lost time, risk of injury and general hassle of cutting through disc locks, which would seem, by some cruel trick of fate, to always be required either: right after you sit down to lunch, just before you close up to go home, just as you’re in the middle of a complicated move-in with a high paying client, or while there are other people accessing their units right next to where you need to make a pretty ugly spectacle of butchering what once seemed a secure lock with a high pitched whining machine of death that launches showers of hot sparks in every direction.

Storage Drama Queens: Manny

Manny is a wee lonely little chap. Manny looks like a leprechaun and smells like a dead leprechaun. It does not matter what you are doing, who you are receiving phone calls from, how many hundreds of invoices you need to get into the mail by the afternoon pick-up deadline, or what marketing tasks you are trying to concentrate on, Manny needs to come into your office. Manny wants to live in your office. He wants to live on the employee-side of the desk. Manny really wants to be given permission to use your microwave and he wants permission to be able to put his lunch in your employee refrigerator in the next room. Manny is a seething black hole of human longing.

What Manny really wants more than anything is to be a special part of what is going on throughout the property. Manny will give you long and detailed unsolicited analyses of minor maintenance issues he has discovered during his time wandering through the blocks of units that are not his. This was easy for Manny to do because Manny spends an average of 4 hours per day on the property, moving items to and fro between his storage unit and his vehicle. Manny knows that you watch him through the security cameras, so he sneaks through the emergency exit on the side of the property so that he can surprise you in your office even when he is coded in through the system and thought to be inside of his unit. Manny will then ask to use the bathroom. Manny will spend over thirty minutes in the bathroom. This is because spending 30 minutes inside the bathroom is the best way for Manny to feel like he is sharing space with you and that he is included in the goings-on of the office.

Manny is 45 and healthy, but Manny is insistent on making himself your problem. Manny does not take emotional self-inventories nor does he preview statements in his imagination before speaking them out loud. Manny is apparently incapable of feeling shame or discourtesy of any kind, so even when you make overt signals that it’s time for him to stop talking about his life and to leave your office so that you can return to work, Manny will not be disturbed by them. He will continue to drone on about the blow-by-blow of his last week and what he hopes to accomplish in the coming week.

Manny is a professional that takes his craft very seriously. Manny spends a good portion of the time that he is talking uninterruptedly about himself informing you of the different jobs he is doing and how much he was paid for each. Because Manny is chemically unable to feel any shocks of embarrassment or self-doubt of any kind, Manny does not understand why you are upset to hear that he is making two to three times as much money per hour as you are, while he caps off his earnings report with a side-note that he thinks it is very rude when people come and interrupt him when he is working on a job site. Manny’s unique mental development makes Manny immune to irony.

Manny needs to be cradled emotionally. It is your responsibility to cradle Manny emotionally, because he is a 45 year old stranger that is renting a storage locker on the property you manage. The fact that it is your responsibility to cradle Manny emotionally should be self evident. If you should make the heinous mistake of finally losing your patience with Manny, either for all the times he has come into your office and sat next to you while you were on a company conference call receiving delicate and private information (and Manny gaped at you, upset with how long it was taking for you to pay attention to him) or for how many times he has come into your office and started talking to you while you were full-on in a conversation with another customer, or for how often he has come in and made snide comments about how easy your job is based off of the small data sampling he has taken, then Manny will get upset. This is because Manny does not understand that whenever Manny is jawing at you without ceasing, you cannot get any work done. Additionally, Manny always needs to jaw at you about himself without ceasing, even if he has just spoken with you in the morning and only been in his storage unit for 30 minutes in between. So,  it appears to the very scientific Manny that you are never working. This is air-tight and explains the endless and prideful beaming that Manny exhibits while talking about Manny.

Manny will get upset because you are not giving Manny all the attention that Manny reasonably merits and deserves. If you finally get upset enough to decide to make plain and clear to Manny how disruptive, emotionally needy and downright insane Manny is being, he will resist your first few attempts through his remarkably well adapted insensitivity to others. Your clear and logical explanations of why it’s not okay for Manny to hang out in your office all day critiquing the job that you do will not be appreciated by Manny, but he will initially resist them by dismissing your change in mood as attributable to your “working too hard”.

The basic fact of the matter is that Manny is playing out his most infantile stages of emotional development in the middle of his life and it’s your responsibility as a an absolute stranger to bear the brunt of his unpleasant and stinky confusion. This is self-evident because you are there, where Manny is.

Introducing Storage Drama Queens

The self storage industry has its fair share of absolute whackos, the sort of people that make you tilt your head when you first try to wrap your mind around what’s actually coming out of their mouths. Maybe they’re the crazy bird lady that always comes onto the property with her special parrot friend perched on her shoulder, alternately squawking at strangers and crapping on her owner’s clothes and on the floor. Maybe it’s the innumerable couples that you see in and out of their storage unit, sometimes screaming at each other so loudly that your security cameras pick it up, and sometimes coming into the office parading around in nauseating displays of affection. Maybe it’s the little 30 something man that has absolutely no legitimate whatsoever reason to be in your office except for the fact that his legendary loneliness has forced him to transfix on you as if you were a long lost family member.

Self storage assumes a certain degree of uncertainty: tenants are either moving, or not sure when they’re moving, or freshly kicked out of their homes by divorce or eviction, or perhaps they’re just confused and need a breather to figure out their next move. But the fact of the matter is that along with this uncertainty comes an inordinately high rate of insanity, human frailty, disgustingly pronounced degrees of emotional transposition of very intimate complexes to absolute strangers (see: poor and woefully under-prepared property managers), and downright sadness. The people that frequent self storage facilities together make up a rainbow of confusion and misbehavior that would inspire their embarrassment, had they only sufficient sense to realize how ridiculous they were being.

Oddballs and Self Storage Seem to Go Together Very Well

But they don’t realize how ridiculous they’re being, because they are incapable of doing so. They become, your problem. As one clever property manager once put it, “we have 650 units on this property and 650 personalities”. This is a diplomatic way of saying that managing a self storage facility can feel like you are running a daycare: you are underpaid to handle  someone else’s poorly formed creation. At first it seems quite subtle, and you move quickly to put the first signs out of your mind as rapidly as they first occurred to you. You try to dismiss the strange interactions you have with some of your tenants as partly in your imagination. No, he can’t really be that insane, but it just seems accentuated because I myself am tired. But with time the signs become more and more difficult to ignore. Eventually you catch yourself in that moment; that one, irrevocable moment that forever transforms your outlook on what you are actually doing for a paycheck. And it happens exactly at the moment you realize that you are explaining, patiently and with fervor, to a grown-ass man twice your age, some basic aspect of social interaction that his own mother should have taught him decades ago.

You can’t climb over that fence at night to get into your unit and retrieve your bedsheets (Oh, my Lord, am I actually saying this outloud to him?) because: 1. It is very dangerous and technically trespassing and 2. It is 3am in the morning and you have just woken me and my wife up so that I could give you an unplanned lesson on why normal business hours are set up the way they are.

Welcome to Storage Drama Queens, the newest and juiciest feature on the Storage Auctions Kings news magazine. Whether you happen to be a self storage manager that’s stopping by for a little bit of understanding and catharsis, or you’re just a collector of pathetic tales of absurd human beings, you have come to the right place. Revel in my unpleasant experiences. Reap joy where I could only endure sorrow and shake my head in disbelief.

The Most Successful Auction Hunters

What makes a successful auction hunter and what’s the key difference between casual auction goers and professional resellers? How come some lucky folks can seem to turn up to one out of every three or four auctions and still make a rounded killing by reselling what they find in both small and large repossessed storage lockers? It may seem unfair and arbitrary, and it’s true that there is definitely an element of luck in profiting or not profiting from local storage sales. But at the end of the day the real key difference between casual auction goers and successful professionals is organization and determination. Successful auction hunters may have a bit of good luck, but they don’t focus on this at all. What they do focus on is their upcoming auction schedule, their instincts and previous experience to tell them which storage sheds are worthwhile and which ones aren’t quite up to snuff, as well as their dogged determination to squeeze all possible profit from every item they find inside the auction sheds they do buy.

Becoming a Successful Auction Hunter – Know What You’re Looking At

Many of the successful auction hunters you see on TV have impressive backgrounds in retail, antiques and valuable rarities. To be sure, this is a sound foundation that is only helpful in this industry. If you don’t happen to have a long background in antiques and appraising furniture and valuables, you may want to start tuning your mind toward the many shows and magazines that will help you to start building a basic understanding of antiques. Sometimes it comes down to a few seconds of peeking inside an auction storage shed to identify the gold and the trash. If you have training and background in knowing which items are worth your time and money and which objects are essentially valueless, you will be far more effective in making those split second buy or don’t buy decisions.

Becoming a Successful Auction Hunter – Sticking With It

Even if you’re really not interested in the appraisal side of buying and selling auction sheds, you can still become a successful auction hunter by simply processing all the goods you obtain with ritualistic fervor and organization. You need to turn your basement or home office into an eBay resale shop, which is easy to do if you have even basic understanding of computing. Getting up and running on eBay is easy and it is a great way to instantly put your merchandise in front of a huge audience that you could not even hope to snag by selling your wares directly.

Speaking of selling your auction wares directly, another avenue of monetization that new auction hunters often overlook is direct sales to specialty shops. If you find interesting or beautiful jewelry, head to a jewelry shop or consignment store. If you have found unique furniture, check to see if any local shopkeepers are interested in what you have to offer. Even a slight mark-up will make you a profit and still give a local merchant the chance to resell your item at a reasonable rate.

More than anything though, becoming a successful auction hunter just takes patience. The wisdom of which units are worth your time and money and which items therein are the most valuable will come with time and exploration.

Becoming a Successful Auction Hunter – Networking

Some of your most valuable resources for learning more about the storage shed buying process and making the most out of what you find are the veteran storage auction hunters that you will bump into at your local facility. The next time you’re at an auction, make an effort to talk shop with the other attendees. You never know what tips and tricks you might pick up!

Storage Locker Auctions

Storage locker auctions have been around for a while now – they’ve served as the goto method for mini storage companies to recoup lost income due to tenants that don’t pay their rent on time. However, lately storage locker auctions are becoming more and more popular thanks to reality shows on Spike and A&E such as Storage Wars and Auction Hunters. These shows essentially made buying up delinquent storage units “sexy” by showing how a couple hundred bucks and a little bit of luck can land you a nice big profit. It especially helps to have some experience buying and selling antiques – knowing what you’re looking at before you even enter your first bid on a repossessed storage locker can definitely help you to turn a profit and avoid some of the common pitfalls that catch new auction buyers. These pitfalls can include grabbing up a bunch of someone else’s junk, for a couple hundred bucks, and not knowing what to do with it or how to convert it into profits.

This is why I always recommend that newcomers to storage locker auctions do a bit of reading, either on this site or any other they like, before entering into their first auction day, eager to throw down their hard-earned money on whatever comes their way. The truth is that some storage locker auctions have high potential for being converted into significant profits, whereas some simply do not. Some storage locker auctions will do little more than get you a whole bunch of someone else’s trash, an irritated feeling at the pit of your stomach, and a lack of inclination to ever try attending another public storage sale. The real secret of making money on this exciting hobby is patience, a willingness to plan ahead, and more patience to observe a few live auctions before actually laying your money down.

Go to storage locker auctions in your area. Talk to the other auction buyers, especially the ones that have been around the block a few times. Strike up a rapport with them before the bidding starts so that you’ll have a chance to peek inside any units they’ve won after the fact or ask them in passing on your way out if they found anything worthwhile. Get a good sense of how much the most worthwhile storage locker auctions run up to, and how the different unit sizes on a given property influence people’s decisions about whether or not something is valuable.

Reader Question: Getting Your Stuff Back From a Storage Auction

Today’s question comes to us from Phil, who has experienced storage auctions from the wrong side: Phil had his belongings sold to satisfy his delinquent rental bill and now wants to know how one goes about getting his personal belongings back. Unfortunately the storage sale process is a much different story when you’re on the wrong side of it. It can be disheartening, embarrassing and downright enraging to have your things sold via public mini storage auction. It can be far worse if you’re actually there to see it happen. I know that Phil is not the only one who has wondered about what they can do when it comes to trying to recover your sold belongings. Phil asks:

[quote] Hello. I just had my storage locker go to sale and lost everything inside. Including my tools which I need for work and some personal paperwork that was very important for my legal cases and getting custody of my children. I asked the company why they sold those too and they said that they don’t go through the units befor selling them they just make sure to transfer the lock and then it goes to auction. What can I do to get my things back? [/quote]

Hello, Phil. I’m very sorry to hear of your misfortune, and that the auction process could not be avoided for your locker. I know it can be very difficult to lose your belongings, especially when they are of personal and sentimental value, or needed for work, like your tools. Unfortunately, in your case there is not very much you can do proactively in terms of recovering your tools because they are of value to others and they were inside your delinquent locker. However, I can tell you that there is an understanding and tradition, an expectation even, between storage companies and the auction unit buyers that all items of purely personal value should be returned to the original owner of the unit.

For example, if a buyer gets a 10×30 unit and empties it entirely, they are entitled to keep all the objects that are of obvious and general commercial value and interest. Televisions, electronics in general, tools, even clothes and books are all fair game. However, should they come across a family photo album, for instance, or a box full of family documents like birth certificates, marriage certificates, etc, they are expected to return these immediately to the original owner, or to the property manager if they cannot contact the tenant. The company should then call the original owner in order to give them their personal / sentimental belongings back.

So, although you’ll have to let go of all your tools and equipment, you should hopefully be able to get your paperwork back. If you have not yet been contacted by the unit’s buyer, you could ask the property manager to get in touch with them for you. How helpful they will ultimately be will depend on their comfort level, their company policies and their relationship with you, but hopefully this will get the ball rolling and at least get your contact information to the buyer so they can do the right thing and return your papers.