The immense popularity of two new reality shows on the auctioning of storage units has brought droves of “newbies” to the bidding scene. It’s the thrill of the hunt, some say, that attracts new bidders more than the prospect of making money. But for the serious and experienced bidders, Ebay or Craigslist are the places they take their wares and hope to earn a pretty penny.
Storage auctions are booming and for the most part it is due to the recession, a hasty relocation, or an illness that makes it hard for people to make their monthly payments. As a result, the contents of their storage units winds up on the auction block where savvy and not-so-savvy bidders are coming out in droves to try and find some treasure they can make money off of. Some people refer to the storage bidders as scavengers profiting from another person’s loss. Two new and popular television shows – Spike TV’s “Auction Hunters” and A&E’s “Storage Wars” – have increased the interest in storage auctions and more and more people are showing up with cash in hand, ready to join the excitement and feel what it’s like to bid like the professionals they watch on TV.
In the past, it has been hobbyists and dedicated regulars who have been attending storage auctions, but now the struggling economy has attracted new and hopeful attendees and the reality shows have attracted those trying to mimic the excitement of a money-magnet find.
A new-time bidder, Chris Saghin, acted on a whim one day and jumped in on the bidding of a unit when he caught sight of a large gathering.
“I drove by and saw the crowd,” he said.
He caught on quickly that it was a storage auction and went to get some serious cash – 10 grand to be exact.
“I didn’t know what it was going to involve so I just brought 10 grand,” he said.
Saghin said he is well off from owning a car dealership and he wanted to join the auction just for the treasure-hunting thrill.
Some experienced bidders say they are a bit annoyed at the new people coming out of the woodwork just as they are annoyed by the unrealistic depiction of bidding that the reality shows portray, they said. Some fancy editing and exaggeration of values make the shows more exciting to watch and therefore attract inexperienced bidders.
During an auction in Las Vegas, John Fincher, a rookie bidder, said he had researched storage auctions and watched “Storage Wars.” He brings a lot of money to the auctions and he posts his good finds on Ebay and Craigslist. He said the profits he makes are staggering, but that he does it mostly for the thrill of the find. And it’s that adrenaline rush of opening up a mystery box that keeps him coming back.
“It’s definitely a treasure hunt,” Fincher said. “When there’s a bunch of sealed boxes … it’s always fun to open them up and see what’s in there. Sometimes it’s good and sometimes it’s disappointing. It’s definitely a gamble, but as far as I’m concerned it’s more fun and more profitable than taking your money to the Santa Fe casino.”
According to Blaine Herbst, author of the e-book, Storage Auction Secrets, some of the top items found in storage units and sold on Ebay are:
- 1990 Honda Gold Wing GL 1500 Motorcycle
- 1974 Oldsmobile 442
- Huge Lot Of Men’s Indigo USA Jackets-290 Cases!
- Quickie S525 Electric Power Wheel Chair
- Canon EOS Rebel X Camera With Bag And Extras
- Five Different Soda Vending Machines
- Stratos 16 Foot Bass Fishing Boat
Now it’s not just the professionals posting their storage-found wares on auctioning sites like Ebay, it’s amateurs as well. Once the steel door on a storage unit is opened for bidding anyone can find hidden treasures. And everyone now – professionals and newbies alike – are raking in the profits.
“Treasure Lurks in Abandoned Storage Sheds.” Las Vegas Sun. Dec. 27, 2010.