September 7, 2017
by Genevieve Anton
If you’ve never heard of a storage auction, the concept is pretty simple. Someone put a bunch of his stuff into a self-storage container and then stopped paying the rent on it. He has not come to pick up his stuff in the designated amount of time, so that stuff is now forfeited. To get rid of it, the storage facility holds an auction. The winner of the auction wins all the stuff in the unit and typically has to clean it out within the next few days.
There are people who buy these units and who sell what’s in them to make money. However, most people aren’t keeping gold doubloons and loose gems in their storage units. It’s mostly old clothing, camping gear and various other bric-a-brac people don’t have room for in their homes.
That doesn’t mean you can’t still turn a profit, though.
While some storage facilities will hold blind auctions, it’s more common for online auctions to at least have a picture of what’s in a storage unit so bidders can get a sense of what they’re bidding on. Take some time to look at the details of what those pictures reveal and to get a sense of what you’re trying to buy. If everything’s in boxes, that’s not much help. But those boxes might be labeled with something like, “toys,” “dishes” or “baby clothes,” which should let you get a sense of the scale.
The biggest challenge is not winning the auction; it’s actually moving the stuff that you find. Most of us don’t know how to sell stuff we’ve randomly acquired. If you want to turn a profit in this endeavor, you need to learn how.
For example, do you have a storefront, physical or digital, that gives you a place you can take the items you’ve found and sell them to the public? Do you know collectors, dealers or consignment shops that would fit your items? Do you know which charities you could donate items to write them off as tax deductions, saving you money at the end of the year when it comes time to declare your taxable income. You should also know the locations and rates of scrap yards and recyclers for those times where you find storage facilities with literal trash in them, so you can turn that the old metal, ancient magazines or rusted-out car parts into some kind of profit.
Even if you can turn a profit on every, single item in a storage unit, it’s possible to still lose money on the overall buy. Because you need to recoup what you spent to win the auction, you need to get back the cost of time and energy you spent cleaning out the unit and transporting all the stuff. You need to understand those costs and know what the unit will need to be worth to make a profit. So make sure you don’t keep bidding just so you can win, if you’re not sure the items in that unit are worth the higher price tag.
Remember, there’s always another unit. Keep a list of them and make an estimate of what you think you’ll be able to get, so you don’t pay more than you can make back.
These are just a few ideas to keep in mind if you want to turn a profit when you win an online storage auction. For more tips and tricks on how to keep on an even keel, simply contact us today!
Results may vary depending on the content of the storage locker auction won.