Category - Storage Auction News

Florida Woman’s Body Kept in a Storage Unit for 17 Years

If you start asking around at any storage auction, you're bound to start hearing stories about finding human remains. In most cases, it's cremains in urns that people find. Sometimes, though, other body parts turn up. By now, the story of the Florida man who found a unit full of preserved body parts has made national news, and we talked with that buyer recently for the inside scoop. That wasn't the only newsworthy storage unit find for Florida storage facility owners this year, though.

Back in January, U-Stor Self Storage in Clearwater, Florida issued a notice to Rebecca Ann Fancher, the tenant, that the unit would be going up for auction if owed back-rent were not paid. Fancher's response was a bit unusual, however: She told them that there was a body in the unit.

The body in question belonged to Fancher's grandmother, a woman who had died in 1995. The family had arranged for her burial and constructed a coffin, but they were stopped from traveling to the burial site by bad weather and financial hardships, so they decided to store the coffin in one of three storage units that Fancher's mother and grandmother had rented together. Fancher herself – like the rest of the family and the storage facility's owners – was unaware of this arrangement until many years later, when her mother contracted cancer and confessed to the situation.

After her mother's death, Fancher inherited the storage units but had no ability to pay for them, so they quickly went into default. After telling the storage facility about the body, police were notified and opened the units, discovering a homemade plywood coffin containing bones. These underwent DNA analysis and came back as a match, corroborating the story. No charges for improper remains disposal were filed against Fancher in the case, and the body was transported to a funeral home for cremation.

In this case, the unit didn't go up for auction with the coffin intact – but it certainly could have. Although it's not likely that you'll find a lot of bodies in storage units, it's definitely a reality that everyone might face at one point or another. If you're in Florida, it seems, that reality may be even more likely.

Former Houston Rockets Owner Auctions Off 175 Vehicles

Charlie Thomas Auction

Charlie Thomas, former owner of the Houston Rockets and prominent Texas businessman, auctioned off 175 of the vehicles from his private collection on October 20th. The auction was run by RM Auctions, who sold the vehicles without reserve in the Grapevine, Texas auction.

Thomas's collection was built over 20 years. During that time, he operated more than 40 different car dealerships and amassed an impressive array of vehicles ranging from 1950s antiques to more modern sports cars. Although his collection is still one of the most extensive in the country, the 175 vehicles he trimmed are certainly both rare and valuable. Every vehicle was painstakingly restored and kept in working order, making these vehicles a particularly excellent find for interested buyers.

Admission to the auction cost $80, and bidder registration cost $150. The auction itself ran for nine hours, with a two-hour reception following. According to its website, RM Auctions has been preparing for the event since May, allowing it to advertise widely.

The auction had several vehicles that got a lot of attention:

  • A blue 1935 Ford Deluxe Three-Window Coupe
  • A 1954 Ford Skyliner "Glasstop"
  • A 1962 Chevrolet Corvette Fuel-Injected Convertible
  • A pair of 1968 Shelby GT500 Convertibles
  • A 1946 Chrysler Town & Country Roadster which stole the show. This Chrysler, a one of a kind concept car, sold for $143,000. 

Overall, his collection showed a preference for classic American cars, including 40 Chevrolets and 80 separate Fords.  In addition to the rest of his private collection, the auction also included an Army-green 1952 Willys Military Jeep . All of the proceeds from that vehicle's sale went toward Brookwood Community, a facility for adults with disabilities.

Ways To Avoid Losing Your Storage Unit

Storage Unit Red Lock

With so much focus on hunting for treasures, it's easy to forget about a storage unit's original tenant. Many auction hunters rent storage units themselves, though, either to store items they win or for personal reasons. Whether you're working on both sides of the industry or just keep your personal belongings in storage, it's important to take steps to protect your belongings and avoid seeing them at an auction.

Storage facilities don't like auctioning units off if they don't have to. They're in the business of storing items, not selling them, and auctions can be time-consuming and stressful for facility owners. They also generally do not profit from the sales. In most cases, the facility owner will be willing to work with renters. Here are a few tips for keeping your items out of auction if you fall behind on your payments:

  • Try to make a partial payment, even if you can't pay off everything that you owe.
  • Offer a settlement to the manager to see if you can negotiate your back rent down to a more affordable price in exchange for you immediately emptying out the unit.
  • Consider borrowing money from a friend or family member if you know you'll be late; that will keep you from paying late fees.
  • If you know you're going to be late on your rent, empty out your unit as soon as possible. Most storage facility managers will deactivate your access code and over lock your storage unit in as little as 3-5 days after the due date.

The storage facility will usually give you 60-90 days to make up your late rent before your items go up for auction. Bear in mind that you can pay off your unit at any time up until the auction has finished.

It's important to keep all of your contact information up-to-date. If the storage facility doesn't know your current address, phone number and email address, they won't be able to contact you to let you know that your unit is going up for auction. In some cases, you might not even realize that you're behind on rent unless you're notified. For example, if you pay with a credit card and the card on file is expired, you could lose the unit. Always check this information to prevent problems.

If you do lose your items, you might be able to get some of them back. If you attend the auction, you can approach the person who purchased your unit and request to get back personal items like photographs or tax documents. Many auction-hunters will be happy to give these things back to you if you're polite. Be aware, however, that they're under no obligation to do so, so there's no guarantee that you'll get your personal items back. Last but not least, find out how much the storage unit sold for. If your storage unit sold for more than what you owe in back rent and late fees, you may be entitled to a refund of the overage.

Are you about to lose your storage unit and need advice? Have you lost a storage unit or had to negotiate with a storage facility to get your stuff back? Share your story in the comments section below.

The World’s Most Famous Storage Unit And The Guy Who Bought It – An Interview With Philip “Clay” Knight

Philip “Clay” Knight

Back in August, you probably heard about the Pensacola storage unit that its former owner, a medical examiner, had left filled with body parts. Although the headline made national news, no one had stopped to get the buyer's side of the story – until now. I had the chance to talk with Philip Knight, the Florida auction hunter who was part of this grisly tale.

At 6'8” and 420 pounds, Philip – or, as his friends call him, Clay – is an imposing figure. A former sheriff's deputy and retired sergeant with the Florida Dept of corrections, Philip developed an interest in storage auctions after watching shows like American Pickers, Barter Kings and – his favorite – Auction Hunters. He's always liked buying, selling, picking and trading, and his retirement seemed like the perfect time to finally pursue those interests.

His first auction turned out to be a bust. Not to be deterred, he decided to give it a second chance, and headed 150 miles to Pensacola to try a few auctions going on there. The first auction he won was full of furniture. Philip was willing to call it a day after that, but his wife urged him to visit the next auction, at a Uncle Bob's storage facility, to see what else they could find.

After eight auctions of regular units, the facility moved to cutting the locks on two climate-controlled units. The first contained synthetic marijuana and bidding was quickly shut down. The other – although no one knew it yet – contained human remains collected by a retired medical examiner.

Of course, that's not what Philip Knight saw when he placed his bid. From the brief glance he got into the unit before the auction started, he made out several nice pieces: a glass-top table, some nice curio cabinets, a gargoyle statue and a new landmower. He placed a winning bid of $900, totaling $1,058 after fees, and set to the task of clearing the items out of the unit.

It wasn't until his wife, Lana, started sifting through the boxes that they realized something was strange about the unit. Inside the first cardboard box was a Gladware bowl containing formaldehyde and a human tongue. Other boxes contained numerous more containers filled with ears, livers and brains. Some were stored in plastic storage containers, but others were in plastic bags and even one Styrofoam cup.

Knowing that the unit had once belonged to a medical examiner, Philip suspected that the body parts might have been preserved for research purposes, but the contents of the boxes still made him uneasy. He explained the situation to the storage facility, which refunded his cleaning deposit, and he and his wife left with the items they had salvaged from the unit.

That was the last Philip heard about the situation until a friend called to ask about the story, which he had seen on the news. He was surprised to hear that the incident was a national news story. Philip has expressed his sympathy to the families who had to be notified about the discovery and who would now have bad memories attached to the situation.

“No body parts in this one, so we're good!”
Fortunately, Philip and his wife got to keep everything else they had won in the auction, so the money spent won't be going to waste. They're holding onto the merchandise for a while in case collectors take an interest in it. He's also requested that he get to keep the medical examiner's badge as a memento after the investigation is over.

I asked him whether this experience had turned him off to the storage auction business, and he said definitely not – as long as he doesn't find any more body parts! He told me that his wife dove right in to opening boxes at the next auction he won, and announced, “No body parts in this one, so we're good!” He's bought several more units since the incident, and he's enjoying his new career as a storage auction hunter.

Who Profits From Storage Auctions?

Each year, around 2 million storage units go into default and are auctioned by storage facilities. The average price of a storage unit bought at auction tends to hover around $200, but an influx of novice bidders has caused prices to jump all over the country. Thanks to shows like Auction Hunters and Storage Wars, newcomers to the industry may become over-eager and bid substantially more than a unit is worth, and winning bids of $1,000 or more are not uncommon at many auctions. This is bad news for competing bidders looking to make money in a business that already has slim profit margins, but it definitely benefits both the auctioneer and the storage facility.

Why Do Storage Facilities Auction Items?

First and foremost, storage facilities are in the business of storing items, not selling them. The primary purpose of an auction is to maintain a positive income by keeping as many paid units available as possible. Storage auctions are held to recover the cost after a person defaults on storage unit payments. Holding an auction allows the storage facility to make up the money lost in rent payments, free up the storage unit and get the storage unit cleaned out without needing to do that labor themselves.

In order to be considered for auction, a unit must have gone unpaid for two to three months, and extensive attempts will be made to contact the unit's renter to collect payment. If these attempts are fruitless, the unit will go up for auction.

There are several things the storage facility must do to ensure that the auction is held legally:

  • They must notify the renter that the auction will take place
  • They must advertise the auction publicly
  • After the unit has been auctioned, the tenant's lien is forgiven, unless the unit sells for less than the balance of the lien, in which, the tenant can still be taken to court.

Some storage facilities hire professional auctioneers to handle these auctions. The auctioneers are paid by a commission based on the total amount of the bid. This means that it's always in the auctioneer's best interests for the bidding to get as high as possible. While high bids can be a good thing for the storage facility as well, it can sometimes cause additional concerns depending on the laws governing auctions in that state.

What Happens to the Profits From an Auction?

If the bids are low, the storage facility may lose money on the unit by receiving less than the money owed in delinquent rent. On the other hand, sometimes bids exceed the cost of back-owed rent. In these situations, the excess money is supposed to revert back to the original renter of the unit. In reality, this rarely happens.

It's often difficult to get in contact with the renter; in most cases, the unit went into default because the renter never appeared to pay off the back rent, and this makes contacting them to pay back auction winnings rather difficult. The renter may assume that the phone calls or letters are a collection attempt, or they may simply no longer have the same contact information.

There is also very little legal oversight of the storage facilities to ensure that they're making every possible attempt to contact the unit's renter. The precise responsibilities of the storage facility vary from one state to the next, but many states allow the facility owner to keep any money that goes unclaimed by the unit's original renter. In Texas, for example, the law states that facility owners must send a letter to the renter's last known address. The renter has two years to respond; after that period, the facility is free to keep the proceeds of the auction.

Other states handle this a bit differently. In California, for example, the renter has one year to claim the funds. After that period, excess profits go into an escheatable account in the county where the sale occurred. Many states handle the issue in this way, including Indiana, Michigan and Georgia. Indeed, the Texas law allowing profits to revert back to the facility owner is the minority, although Texas is certainly not the only state that allows it.

Once the money goes into an escheatable account, it's owned by the state. The rightful owner of that money can claim it by going through the local comptroller's office, but these funds often stay unclaimed indefinitely.

Who Profits From Storage Auctions?

Because most states do not allow storage facilities to profit in excess of the lien, high bids on auctions do not benefit the facility owners. In fact, they create more paperwork and logistical problems for the facility owners, who must make sure to consult with state laws, send notices to renters and issue checks to the state. If the facility's owner fails to pay back money that's owed to the state, they may get into legal or tax trouble. In states like Texas where profits can be retained, high-bidding auctions are more attractive to storage facilities, but they still create extra hassles as the owner attempts to contact the original tenant.

Ultimately, the person with the most to gain from an increase in bidding is the auctioneer. Even bearing this in mind, overpriced auctions will ultimately have a bad effect on the auctioneer if they cause auction attendance to fall. Regulars, realizing that the bidding may get too high, might stop attending auctions, and this would damage the entire industry.

The best choice for everyone is always to bid fairly and conservatively. This helps to keep things competitive for bidders and stimulates growth in the industry, and it keeps hassles down for everyone involved. It also helps make it easier for professionals to continue making conservative profits on their wares without striving for the often-inflated numbers seen on TV.

Texas Gun Collector Purchases Bonnie & Clyde’s Guns

Bonnie & Clyde Colt 45 & Snub Nose 38

One passion that unifies many auction-hunters is an interest in history. Antiques provide a gateway to the past, and the value they hold is rooted in the richness of their history. Although sentimental value may seem like an odd thing to place a price tag on, historically significant objects can be nearly priceless, and collectors are eager to spend quite a bit of money to obtain them.

That's certainly the case for one anonymous collector from Texas who recently purchased two historical guns at an auction in New Hampshire. The guns – a Colt .45 and snub-nosed .38 special – originally belonged to the famous outlaws Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow. These outlaws swept across the nation in a flurry of bank robberies, kidnappings, car thefts and murders before finally being gunned down in 1934. The posse that killed them looted the couple's vehicle, and much of that stolen memorabilia has circulated since among interested collectors.

More than outlaws, Bonnie and Clyde are well-known in modern times for their love story, which was played up in the 1967 film Bonnie & Clyde. Today, the story still resonates with many, and these guns – which were taken from the bodies of the outlaws – provide a tangible link to that era of American history.

Together, the guns sold for an impressive $504,000. They came from the estate of Robert Davis, a memorabilia collector from Waco, Texas. He had originally purchased both guns for about $100,000 in 1986. Several other pieces of Bonnie and Clyde memorabilia sold at the New Hampshire auction, including a $36,000 gold pocket watch and Bonnie's $11,400 silk stockings.

Top Ten Books About Storage Auctions

A few years ago, storage auctions were a relatively quiet and unknown way of making a living. Now, they've become a popular phenomenon thanks to shows like Storage Wars and auction Hunters. Many authors are eager to jump on this trend and appeal to fans by producing “get rich quick” guides about storage auctions and other types of resale businesses. While some of these books contain useful information, many paint an inaccurate picture of the trade.

There's also little need to buy most of the books on the market as the information is readily available online through this website and others. Nevertheless, if you do feel like picking up some additional reading material, here are 10 books you might consider:

  1. Making Money With Storage Unit Auctions: Is This the Business for You? By Bryce Cranston. This slim paperback covers the basics of storage auctions without making too many exaggerated claims. A crash course for beginners, this book details advice on how to find auctions and sell items successfully. It's rated well on Amazon, with a pure five-star rating, but it may be too basic of a guide for most of our more savvy blog readers.
  2. Picker's Bible: How To Pick Antiques Like the Pros by Joe Willard. While not about storage auctions specifically, this guide is an invaluable resource for people who need to learn more about the ins and outs of antiques. Antiques are some of the most profitable but riskiest items to look out for at sales, and this primer can help you find the best items for sale. Joe Willard himself is an established picker, and his book provides an excellent overview for anyone looking to approach that field.
  3. The Garage Sale Millionaire: Make Money with Hidden Finds from Garage Sales to Storage Unit Auctions and Everything in Between by Aaron LaPedis. The title's a bit of a mouthful, but the book has some positive reviews on Amazon and got positive attention on Yahoo after its release. The book delivers on the promise of its title, although many of the tips may be a bit self-evident for people who aren't total newcomers to the field. Nevertheless, much of the advise is solid, and there are real, practical tips for which items will churn the best profit, which may make this worth picking up if you're eager for a few more ideas.
  4. Making Money A-Z with Self Storage Unit Auctions 2011: The Silver Edition by Glendon Cameron. This book is pricey, so it's definitely a bit of an investment. If you're willing to put down this much money for a book, though, this is an entertaining read about storage auctions. This 246-page tome details exactly how to find, participate in and profit from storage auctions, all as related by a veteran in the field. Called “the textbook of storage auctions” by some reviewers, this book is said to be one of the most comprehensive of its kind.
  5. Storage Auctions 101 The Beginners Guide To Storage Auction Profits by Glendon Cameron. If you're not willing to make the investment for Cameron's lengthier guide, you might want to consider picking up this smaller beginner's guide. This book comes with lots of practical tips and down-to-earth advice. As an added bonus, you can download a digital version to your Kindle, iPhone or other device, so you don't have to worry about carrying it around.
  6. Winning Storage Auction Strategies by Dirk and Susan McFergus. Cutting through the hype from reality TV, this husband-and-wife team of Las Vegas auction-hunters detail real, useful strategies for winning auctions and making a profit on your findings. Many of these tips are aimed at amateurs, but much of the advice is equally valid for veterans as well. The book does focus more on the buying aspect than selling, however, so it can't precisely be considered a comprehensive guide.
  7. Making Money in Storage Auctions: How to Profit from the Storage Wars and become a Storage Auction Warrior by Boston Reynolds. This book is obviously firmly rooted in the reality television trend, and it does occasionally wander more into hype than the reality of the industry. It is still a fairly comprehensive guide, though, and it touches on many relevant topics without getting too bogged down in detail.
  8. The Complete Idiot's Guide to Starting and Running a Thrift Store by Ravel Buckley. If you're comfortable with the basics of auction hunting and want to bring your knowledge up to the next level, this book will get you started with everything you need to know about opening up a thrift store business. Part of the well-known “Idiots Guide” books, this is an authoritative source and a good jumping-off point for anyone looking to run a full-scale resale business.
  9. How to Invest in Self-Storage by Scott Duffy and RK Kliebenstein. This book tackles the other side of the storage industry: The people who actually own and manage storage units. Although this information may not seem immediately relevant, it can be supremely helpful to understand the industry from the other side. This will help you understand how and why certain things happen and give you a greater appreciation for the facility owners you work with on any given day.
  10. The Porn Is Always In The DVD Player: My Life As A Storage Auction Addict by Glendon Cameron. Looking at this list, it's easy to see that Glendon Cameron is one of the biggest writers in the storage auction field. This book is quite different from his others, though, in that it's more of a memoir than a how-to guide. If you're looking for something fun and insightful to read without necessarily providing step-by-step instructions or ideas, this book might be worth buying. If nothing else, it will certainly tell a few familiar stories to storage veterans.

These are just a few of the books available on the subject, but there are many more available online or from your local library. If you've read one of these books or have another that you found particularly helpful, post your suggestions or reviews in the comments section below!

Is Storage Wars Texas Disrupting DFW Area Storage Auctions?

Back in September, we asked readers to weigh in on whether Storage Wars: Texas was disrupting the regular storage auctions in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. Readers weighed in with their comments and insight, and here are the results:

  • Auctions take longer. Whenever the film crew is present, a 30 minute auction can take several hours to complete. The crew will film lots of extra footage of bidding, and they may request that some people stay behind to reenact bids for the show as well. Being present at a filmed auction nearly always seems to result in long, hot hours in the sun.
  • Auctions are much more crowded. People are eager to be involved in a television production, even if it just means watching one get filled. Normally quiet auctions can easily be swarmed with 100 or more people, and people bring their whole families to the auctions, so children are often present and may not be watched very closely by their parents.
  • Bids are higher. Whether this is due to the number of novices who don't know better or the amount of people trying to get some air time for the show, it's not clear. Many people have reported that bids are nearly double what they'd normally be during filmed auctions, though, so professionals often try to steer clear.
  • The cast and crew are generally quite easy-going and easy to get along with, but some people definitely sense a “scripted” vibe from them and that can be a bit awkward for bidders. The people you hang out with on the set may not act exactly like you'd expect them to from watching the show.

The good news is that these changes seem to primarily affect the auctions that are being filmed, and local businesspeople are able to make a decent profit on the regular auctions. By avoiding the overcrowded taped auctions and sticking to the quieter, less-public affairs, auction-hunters are able to make a decent profit on the items they find without getting swept up into the hype. Some novices are still paying way more for units than they're worth, but good deals are still available to those who know where to look – and are patient enough to wait for them.

Does this match with your experience? Leave a comment to let us know whether you've noticed any differences in the way auctions are being handled in your area now that Storage Wars: Texas is filming there.

Human Organs Found in Storage Unit

Organs Jar

Professional auction hunters are prepared to find all sorts of strange things in the units they buy at auction. Tax documents, personal mementos and various bits of trash are all very common to find. Bottles full of human organs, however, are not something most people expect to uncover when cleaning a storage unit.

Dr. Michael BerklandThat's exactly what was found in a Pensacola, Florida storage unit last week. The unit, which had once belonged to former medical examiner Dr. Michael Berkland, included crudely preserved human remains including brains, heart and lungs. They were suspended in formaldehyde and stored in unlikely containers like thirty -two ounce soda cups and plastic storage containers. The origin of these organs is unclear, but they may have come from various autopsies completed by the medical examiner during his career.

Philip KnightThe man who bought the storage unit, Phillip Knight, first discovered the items thanks to the strong smell of formaldehyde that had leaked out of some of the containers. This led him to the grisly discovery of the organs. This was the first auction that Knight had attended and only his second storage unit. Unfortunately, his induction into the storage auction business did not provide the warm welcome that many would hope for.

When you purchase a storage unit at auction, there are no refunds; no matter what's found in the unit. The gamble makes it fun and exciting for some people, but situations like this can lead to headaches and disappointments for the people buying storage units. In the case of Phillip Knight, he's out a reported $900 for the organ-filled unit.

Although finding body parts in a storage unit isn't exactly common, this isn't the first time it's ever happened. For example, another Florida auction once turned up a casket containing the remains of the owner's deceased grandmother. The casket had been stored there for 17 years. It's especially common to find the ashes of both relatives and pets that have been cremated; however, one tenant was caught storing the refrigerated body of a dog following its death. Dead dogs and cats were also found in a unit during a Savannah, Georgia auction in May of this year.

Because you never know what to expect when opening a storage unit, it's important to be prepared for anything. You will most likely find nothing this disturbing in most auctions, but there's always the possibility that you might come across something illegal, toxic or just repulsive. If you do, it's important to stay calm and alert the storage facility manager; in many cases the manager will handle the situation for you entirely. You may be required to communicate with the police as part of the investigation, but timely reporting of the incident will save you from having any legal troubles of your own for improper waste disposal or any other concerns.


Update: September 7th, 2012

Medical Examiner Arrested for Leaving Human Remains in a Storage Unit

Last month, a Pensacola, Florida man named Philip Knight bought a storage unit at auction to see if he could resell the items like the auction hunters on popular reality TV shows. After paying $900 for the unit, he opened it up to see what treasures he might find. Instead of finding valuable antiques or even regular kitchen appliances, however, Mr. Knight made a more gruesome discovery: Human limbs and organs.

The scent of formaldehyde initially tipped him off that something was not right in the unit, and he soon found dozens of plastic containers and soda cups holding crudely preserved remains from over 100 people. Among the tissues found were various body parts and organs, including human brains.

Investigation uncovered that this unit had previously belonged to Dr. Michael Berkland, a 57-year-old former medical examiner. After losing his license in Missouri for falsifying records, Dr. Berkland moved to Florida to continue his practice. There, he lost his license in Florida for not getting autopsy results in on time. He hasn't been practicing medicine since 2007 when his Florida license was revoked.

Though he was forced into retirement, none of his previous employers were aware that Dr. Berkland had been spiriting away human remains and preserving them at home. When he began storing them, he informed the storage unit's manager that he would be storing tools and furniture; after failing to pay his rent, the unit went up for auction without anyone realizing the true contents. He had kept the unit for three years prior to that and had gotten into trouble with his rent numerous times, but had always managed to pay off his balance before auction in the past.

In all, the remains found in the Pensacola storage unit were collected during a span of 10 years and belong to the patients on whom he had completed autopsies. Because there was no foul play involved, authorities initially had a difficult time determining whether they could charge Dr. Berkland with anything. Finally, he was arrested earlier this week and charged with a felony for improper storage of hazardous waste. He was also charged with the misdemeanor of “nuisance injurious to public health.” He has since been bonded out of jail and awaits trial.

If convicted, Dr. Berkland could face up to five years in state prison. At present, the family members of identified remains are being contacted to see if the organs were obtained legally and if Dr. Berkland had permission to hold them. If not, he could face more criminal charges.

Fees to Attend Storage Auctions?

The new popularity of storage auctions has brought out new buyers in record numbers. This can be a nightmare for professional auction hunters, auctioneers and storage companies alike. Thanks to shows like Auction Hunters and Storage Wars, events that used to draw just a handful of dedicated bidders are now bringing in dozens or even hundreds of spectators, first-timers and hobbyists.

While not a bad thing on its own, this can cause some issues. Bids can go quite high thanks to newbies overbidding for items, and the profit margins for veteran bidders can diminish. Overcrowded auctions cause problems for auctioneers, too. The more people who show up for an auctions, the more time they'll need to look at the available units and bid. This makes the auctions last much longer, which ties up an auctioneer's time and makes auctions less efficient. It can also cause traffic and parking problems for storage facilities that are not equipped to handle large crowds of people.

In order to combat these problems, some auctioneers have started charging cover fees. People interested in attending the auction would need to sign up in advance; people that didn't register in advance of the auction would need to pay an entry fee. Of course, this is a lucrative practice for the auctioneer, but it's not necessarily fair to the bidders. Fortunately, the practice of charging entry fees for auctions is not widespread, but it is something to consider.

If you do happen to find an auction with a cover fee, you need to decide whether it's worth paying out of pocket for the chance to bid or if you'd rather sit the auction out. Depending on your situation, paying a small fee of $10 or so might not be a major inconvenience; others will choose to avoid all of these auctions on principle.