With the influx of attendees to self storage auctions, some facility operators are beginning to wonder how they can capitalize on the frenzied rush they are now witnessing at these sales. The masses of storage hunters looking for the golden items hidden in storage units on the auction block have fed off popular TV shows like Spike TV’s Auction Hunters and A&E’s Storage Wars. It has brought novice bidders out of the woodwork standing alongside seasoned auction attendees with cold cash in hand and flashlights at the ready to peek inside a unit once the door is lifted.
Audiences are hooked on the adrenaline-rush TV shows that often reveal bidders finding valuable treasures inside cardboard boxes or behind mattresses. The debut season of A&E’s Storage Wars averaged 2.3 million viewers and producers are rushing to put together a new season for the spring. Spike TV’s Auction Hunters is also planning a follow up to its debut show that came out last fall. And while storage facility owners are enjoying the high turnout for their auctions due to the shows, they are wondering on online discussion board’s like Inside Self-Storage’s (ISS) “Self-Storage Talk,” how to make some money of their own. Most state laws only allow facilities to collect what they are owed on the unit and have to give up the rest of the bidding money they made off the sale to the tenant. With all the crowds mingling around a storage auction, how can a storage facility owner jump on this opportunity and make some extra money?
Ideas are popping up online and spreading fast. A recent ISS discussion thread entitled, “Monetizing Auctions: Capitalizing on the Influx,” revealed some creative ways to make money during an auction. Among the ideas were: concession sales, lock sales, one-day-only discounts on units to auction attendees, truck rentals because those units need to be emptied by the winning bidder, on-site cleaning and repair of items and LED flashlight sales and rentals. Even the sale or rental of helmets with an LED light attached was discussed. It is easier to comb through boxes and bins with two hands and not have to worry about holding a flashlight.
There are, however, some storage facility operators who contend that self storage is in the business of renting space not selling items during a hyped-up lien sale. One good point these nay-sayers make is that if these popular auctions attract too much attention it could cause local lawmakers to change legal protocol on lien sales. Having a lengthier, more in-depth process to face when trying to empty a delinquent unit is not something any self storage operator wants to face.
But there are still a strong and growing number of self storage operators who see auctions as an additional money-making opportunity. Will we begin to see flashlights for sale during the auctions shown on the TV shows? Quite possibly. It’s up to each storage operator to decide, but there’s no denying the chance to capitalize on these auctions is an alluring prospect.
“Self-Storage Operators Brainstorm Ways to Better Monetize Facility Auctions.” Inside Self Storage. Jan. 25, 2011.
“TV’s Macho Hunters and Gatherers.” Los Angeles Times. Jan. 23, 2011.