Tricks of the Trade – Storage Auctions

Posted on Dec 6 2011 - 1:20pm by Garret Stembridge

A couple of weeks ago I went to my very first storage auction. I can’t lie, I’m a fan of the popular storage auction TV shows, and since watching, I’ve always had the desire to observe this firsthand. So, I took my lunch break early one day, and away I went! As I pulled up to the storage facility it was evident that I wasn’t the only one whose curiosity had the best of them. Cars lined down both sides of the street and a group of more than 40 individuals hovered around the access gate, all anxiously waiting for their opportunity to hit it big!
Upon arriving, I soon realized that attending a storage auction is a lot like playing in a highly competitive sports game. The game begins the second you walk up to the facility. It’s all about getting into your competition’s head. Intimidation. Making people realize you are the one to be reckoned with. Below are my “Top 7 Things to Know before Going to a Storage Auction”:

  1. Making a bid – It’s crucial to have your own “trademark” way of making a bid. Is it grabbing your ear? Nodding your head? Yelling something like “Yep!”? I personally prefer barnyard noises. The crow of a rooster or the bark of a dog catches everyone off guard and throws your opponents off of their game!
  2. Game face – It’s important to practice your game face in the mirror before attending a storage auction. The right game face will make people think you are serious and actually know what you are doing (see intimidation).
  3. Method of payment – Credit card or cash were the only options allowed for payment of a storage unit. I personally recommend the credit card option, seeing I wouldn’t want to carry large amounts of cash around certain people at the auction, nor in the neighborhood the facility was in. (*Extra Space Storage accepts cash only for storage auction payments.)
  4. A love for junk – It’s amazing what people put in storage! I guess the saying is true, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” Be prepared to go through a ton of junk if you win the bid on a storage unit.
  5. Clothes you can get dirty – I showed up in my business casual attire on a quick lunch break from work. Let’s just say I stood out like a sore thumb. Be sure to wear clothes you can get dirty for when you clean out the unit.
  6. Gloves – Now this is what really seals the deal to prove to everyone around that you’re serious and plan on winning. Gloves show that you plan on winning a unit and cleaning it out that day.
  7. Flashlight – This will allow you to see into the crevices and all the way to the back of large units. Combining the use of your flashlight with your well practiced game face while looking into a unit will further prove to others that you mean business and know what you are doing.

On a more serious note, if you’re going to a storage auction and plan on trying to purchase a unit, be sure to do your homework before going. Having a broad knowledge of items like tools, clothes, furniture, electronics, appliances, etc… and the cost of each will really give you a competitive advantage. For example, one of the units sold that day was a 5×10 unit which sold for $160. I spoke with the winner of the unit afterward and he said the thing that stood out to him the most in the unit was a Milwaukee Super Sawzall Saw. Online, this saw costs $199. You can buy a factory reconditioned version too that sells for $139. He thought he could get at least $100 for the saw in his unit. Props to him for potentially making more than half of his money back with ONE item!

 All in all it was a very interesting and educational experience. It definitely wasn’t as glitzy and glamorous as what you see on TV. I saw a total of five storage units sold with the highest selling price being $360 (I still don’t know what that person saw in the unit that caused them to bid uncontrollably). Crazy!

Go attend a storage auction, even if you are only there to observe like me. You’ll find there are plenty of things to keep you entertained. However, if you find yourself getting bored or tired, snap out of it by making a bid on a unit you don’t want! There’s nothing that will get your adrenaline pumping faster than hoping and praying someone will make a bid after yours – saving you from potentially paying hundreds of dollars for a unit full of junk that you have to clean out within 48 hours! But hey, who knows what buried treasure might be waiting in there for you!

Garret Stembridge