Boardwalk Journal March 2012- Whitney’s World
Reality shows exploded in recent years, and I could talk about the best and worst, but for now i’d love to discuss a new phenomenon that’s gaining popularity as either a career or a hobby, storage unit auctions. Yes that’s right, going to storage facilities and bidding on units that are abandoned is what we are privy to watch on shows like A&E’s Storage Wars. We’ve all seen those characters bid against one another in order to hunt through someone else’s treasures or trash and they just love taking that gamble.
The art of finding “treasure” definitely appeals to my husband, as he would go to the extreme of metal detecting on the beach during various calculated hours of the day and then head over to other areas with foot traffic, where he may find some coins or other valuables. But his luck isn’t always that great, in fact most times he’ll be out for 5 hours and come back with 14 cents, a metal bottle top and some broken fake jewelry. To me it’s trash but to him he’s thrilled and smiles the whole night. In fact he doesn’t have a man cave, he has a display area for all of his finds. So naturally when the idea of going to storage auctions became popular, he decided to go for it. In his defense, years ago he attended one, but never purchased anything and gave up on the idea. In my opinion, these reality shows empower you and make the art of storage hunting look easy; basically if they can do it, you can do it too.
Well aren’t I lucky. Of course I’m being sarcastic, because in the last year my husband purchased 4 units. A couple of them were duds and he’s still at a loss, but in others he found some great items that were easy to sell, and ultimately made a profit. The main problem is that the unsold treasures are still scattered throughout my house, like a plethora of beanie babies!! Some great pieces he’s acquired were a riding lawnmower, an accordion, jars of money, lawn furniture, weights, old 8mm films & projectors and more (yes we now watch silent films in our house with other people’s vacations, oy!). On the flip side, you come across weird items that you don’t want to see or find like fetish materials & videos, doctors records, folders with anti-semitic propaganda and other paraphernalia.
There’s also an emotional side to consider because families lose many of their personal items and memories. Ultimately it’s given back to the facility but you have no way of knowing if they were picked up.
My husband begged me to join him at the last auction, so I reluctantly complied but wound up having fun. At first it was intimidating because the attendees either looked experienced, seemed like they had lots of money or came prepared with uber transportation. Years ago these places had 4-5 people showing up, but now due to the popularity of the reality shows my husband has seen up to 80 people waiting to bid.
Throughout the auction process my intimidation decreased as I realized it could be anyone’s game. When the door opens, you can’t go in the unit. You take a glance and then decide if it’s worth the gamble. Some units were selling for $1 and one unit which was the size equivalent of three, had a multitude of items and it sold for only $375. That was a steal! I was shocked! But here’s why; as a larger unit, it would take days to empty the contents which equates to labor and money. If it’s all junk you will either be stuck with it or get bottom dollar. However, if there’s one great item, then you may recoup all of your money. That’s the gamble you take. Make sure to only bring cash so you can cover the winning bid, the taxes and the $100 refundable deposit that makes you responsible for cleaning the unit. Also keep in mind you can donate to a non-profit, we gave a lot of camping gear to the boy scouts.
Bottom line, its a fun hobby because you never know what you will find, but as a career, unless you have built in customers, a store to house your junk, and guaranteed help to transport items, then you’re taking a gamble. To find storage auctions in your area check out this new website www.storagetreasures.com .
Whitney is an on-air multimedia personality, and works behind the scenes helping businesses gain extra exposure, through her WIN Promotions video production services.