Tag - storage auctions

Public Storage Auctions

Public Storage Auctions

Public storage auctions have been going on for decades, but they were relatively unknown until the last few years. Thanks to the popularity of reality shows like Storage Wars, this once obscure industry has begun to see a tremendous surge in interest. As more people look for ways to start their own businesses, the idea of treasure-hunting among storage units becomes ever more appealing.


A few years ago, before the reality shows made public storage auctions a household name, the only people involved in this business were those who already had experience in resale and auctions. This meant that only a small number of people would attend these auctions, and the communities were often quite tight-knit. Now that they are more commonly known, there is an influx of newcomers. If you're new to the business, here is everything you need to know to get started:


Why Storage Auctions Occur


Public storage auctions occur when a storage facility has tenants who abandon their units or fail to pay the rent for a storage unit. In order to recover the lost income from the abandoned unit and get assistance with emptying the unit of its contents, storage facilities auction the contents of a unit to the highest bidder.


In keeping with a state's lien laws, the storage facility must attempt to contact the tenant several times through every known channel of communication. If this fails, the facility must then post a notice of the sale in a public newspaper and hold the auction in public. These controls are put in place to prevent unscrupulous facilities from stealing a tenant's items. By holding the auction publicly, the facility gives the proper owner of the items ample opportunity to come forward and settle the debt.


At the auction, the auctioneer will allow bidders to look at the unit from the entrance and get an idea for what type of items may be inside. The bidding will then start, and the highest bidder will win that unit. Bidding amounts can vary considerably depending on the contents of the unit, the location of the auction and who is in attendance. Due to the popularity of auctions during recent years, bids tend to be higher than they were several years ago.


Once the public storage auction has concluded, the bidder must clean out the unit within 24 to 48 hours. Any items inside the storage unit become the bidder's property, and he can attempt to sell them at a profit or simply use them in his own home. For many people, storage auctions have become one place to obtain inventory for large-scale resale businesses or internet-based shops.


How to Find Storage Auctions


If you're interested in finding a public self storage auction to attend, there are several options:


  • Check the local newspapers for announcements. In addition to the main paper in your city, you may want to check the paper for outlying cities as well. Running an ad in a small local paper is often cheaper, which means many facilities will choose to advertise in these venues whenever possible.
  • Follow local auctioneers. There are usually only a few auctioneers that handle a good amount of the auctions in a city. Once you figure out which auctioneers usually handle public storage auctions, you can check their websites to get an idea for the upcoming auction schedules.
  • Call the storage facilities. You can contact storage facilities directly to figure out what their auction schedules are and which auctioneers they usually use. Many facilities run their auctions on regular schedules, so you can update your calendar accordingly. Just be aware that storage facility managers tend to be very busy and can get impatient with constant inquiries; do your best to figure out the schedules on your own before calling with questions.
  • Check an online listing. There are several websites devoted to offering schedules for public storage auctions. Some of the national listings may not be very thorough, but local listings can often give you access to more auctions than you might have found on your own. If you live in Texas, our own service at Texas Storage Auction Schedules & News can provide you with the most thorough listing of auctions for the major cities in Texas.


Whether you run a resale business or just want a few new items to outfit your house, public storage auctions are a great way to find low-priced second-hand goods. By knowing where and how the auctions occur and how to get more information about them, you can prepare yourself for auction-hunting success.

White Elephants To Avoid At Storage Auctions

White Elephant

Sometimes it’s just not worth it, unless you’re buying a unit for particular items and you’re willing to deal with whatever comes along for the ride. White elephants to avoid at storage auctions include:

1. big, old office photocopiers,

2. huge TVs (digital or analog),

3. used mattresses and box springs,

5. funeral coffins and urns,

6. used tires,

7. partially-full paint cans,

8. medical supplies,

9. 55 gallon drums labeled (or should be labeled) HAZMAT, and

10. a whole lot of anything you are unfamiliar with, and have no idea where to re-sell.

This list is just a sample, of course. But it should serve to clear your head and jog your memory whenever you’re tempted to go ahead and take on one or more white elephants in order to get some good stuff, too. Hopefully, the thought of dragging a huge TV or a vintage photocopier around in your truck for several weeks will trigger a flashing red light, complete with alarm buzzer now.

My simple advice is – JUST DON’T DO IT. Don’t take on the problems in the first place.

It’s easy to lose track of your time spent trying to sell and then give away the white elephants of the storage auction world. Worse yet, your trips to the dump will cost you even more time and also some money in the form of solid waste disposal fees. Not only will you lose out on anticipated profit, but you go in the hole on the items just to get rid of them.

To avoid a lose/lose proposition, stop and ask yourself if a particular risk is worth a big investment of your time. If you can see cumbersome, old items that will be a royal bother to move, store and re-sell, resist the urge to acquire the rest of the unit. Take a pass and move on to the next unit up for bid. Let somebody else take on the white elephants, because they will.

Using Storage Auctions to Furnish Your Home For Next to Nothing

Storage Auction Furniture

When most people consider the storage auction industry, they're approaching it as a way to make money by reselling the items found inside. It's certainly possible to make a decent profit on items found in a storage unit; However, there's another option for your findings that may make more sense for casual bidders: Using the second-hand furnishings and other items for yourself.

When you're looking at a storage unit as a possible way to furnish your home, you have a bit more flexibility than you would while bidding for resale. You only have to worry about finding items you like and would use at a price lower than retail rather than considering profit margins. Since most storage units are filled with regular household items, shopping at a storage auction is a logical first step for people moving into new homes.

If you were planning to buy items second-hand anyway, you may be able to get then much cheaper from the storage auction than if you bought each piece separately from Craigslist or a thrift store. Some items, like treadmills, couches and refrigerators, are easy to find in storage units, and bidders may be unwilling to pay much for them due to their bulkiness and difficulty of storing them so costs will stay low.

Here are a few tips for shopping for yourself at an auction:

  • Pay attention to the cleanliness and organization of the unit. You may not be able to check the furniture for stains or damage, but you can get a general idea of how well the original owner may have maintained his possessions by looking at the unit itself. Items neatly stacked in boxes show a different picture than those strewn about or gathered in trash bags.
  • Think about what you're looking for in advance, but be flexible. Keep an eye out for specific styles or items that catch your eye, but be willing to budge if you find a good deal. Make sure to craft your budget in advance and stick to it.
  • Look for units that have multiple items in them. The more furniture and appliances you can get in a single unit, the better your odds of furnishing your house inexpensively.
  • Consider selling the extra items that you don't need. For example, if you buy a unit because of a couch and treadmill, see about selling off any electronics or other items. After selling the merchandise you don't want, you might be surprised how little the unit actually cost you. In some cases, you'll even recover all of the money you spent and get to keep some wonderful stuff for yourself for free.

Making a profit at a storage auction is not a guarantee, but keeping the items you want for yourself can definitely save you money. If you're not opposed to filling your home with second-hand furnishings, you can do quite well through auction-hunting.

Newbies and Veterans: Is There Room For Both in the Storage Auction Industry?

Veterans and Newbies

Auction hunting is a business with narrow profit margins and sudden popularity, two factors that combine to make it somewhat unfriendly toward newcomers. Inspired by storage auction TV shows and other shows glorifying the resale business, many people are entering the field without much experience or understanding of how things work. The veterans in the industry are understandably reluctant to embrace these high-bidding newcomers, and they can be downright antagonistic at times.

A recent thread at StorageAuctionForums.com asked whether anyone had ever purposely misdirected a newbie or given bad advice to throw them off the trail. Most of the participants said no, but many did agree that newcomers should take some initiative and learn the ropes themselves rather than relying on old pros for advice. It's also important that veterans don't give away all of their secrets so they don't lose their competitive edge. Sharing specific sources for auction listings or personal bidding strategies can be self-destructive and disastrous.

If you're a newbie, here are a few tips for learning the ropes on your own:

  • Utilize a resource like this blog to find tips and strategies rather than asking the people you're bidding against.
  • If you don't use our service, make sure to do your research about an auction before you arrive. Check the storage facility's website, the auctioneer's website or the legal notice for the auction to ensure you know what the rules are.
  • Try to be friendly and professional; avoid just talking to people when you want something, and don't try to be too much of a chatterbox with people who are trying to work around you.
  • Avoid making yourself a nuisance. Leave your kids at home, park somewhere that won't block the entryway, and don't badger or heckle anyone.

As long as you treat your auction-hunting as a job, you should have an easy time fitting in with the others. Most auction-hunters aren't antagonistic toward newcomers who don't cause any trouble, and you can make lasting friendship in the industry by making an honest attempt. Once you become more experienced, you can pay it forward by giving a helping hand to other newbies.

Although the storage auction industry is experiencing growing pains, there is still plenty of room for people to enter the business. Many of the ill-informed newcomers won't stick around; the people who survive are those who truly understand and appreciate what they're getting into. By taking the time to educate yourself – and, when you can afford to, the people around you – you can ensure that commitment pays off.

So, how do you feel about this situation? Leave your interesting and creative responses in the comments section below.

Holiday Items: A Profit Opportunity for Patient Pickers

Christmas Decorations Storage

Holiday items are frequently found in storage units because their owners don't want them taking up space throughout the year when they're unneeded. Things like lawn decorations, Christmas lights, ornaments and artificial trees take up a lot of space, and people who go all-out for the holidays may need a lot of room to store all of these items.

While many auction-hunters avoid these items, they may be worth a second look. The problem with seasonal items is that there's a narrow window of time when they're in demand. In the month or two leading up to the holiday, people will be interested in buying these items. The rest of the year, these items will need to be stored somewhere.

If you have the space to store seasonal merchandise, though, picking these things up at a storage auction can be a good investment. Many seasonal items sell extremely well during the holidays, and you can often make an excellent profit if you're patient. Here are a few things that can fetch a high price:

  • Antique or collectible ornaments. You might want to do some research when you find ornaments as some can be quite rare, limited editions or otherwise valuable.
  • Large lawn decorations. These are extremely expensive to buy new, so people will be delighted to snatch them up at a lower price when used. Look for inflatable ones as well as metal or plastic decorations.
  • Keep an eye out for themes. If you collect ornaments and other decorations throughout the year, you should have a fair number by the time the holidays roll around. Look through your stock and see if you can find a way to combine a few things into a “bundle” to sell together. Ornaments and other small items might sell faster this way.

If you don't have the room to store holiday items or the patience to keep them all year, you might want to pass on these units. If you do have a bit of time to store these items, though, you may be able to make an excellent profit later in the year when they go into style.

Scrap Metal Recycling for Storage Auction Hunters

Scrap Metal Recycling

Most people use storage auctions as a way to gather stock for a resale business. Unfortunately, when doing this you're bound to come across items that can't be resold. Whether you're looking at broken electronics or outdated appliances, some things will be difficult to sell as-is. Luckily, you may still be able to get some money from them by tearing them down for scrap metal.

Electronics like TVs, computers and even cell phones have small amounts of copper, aluminum and steel. They also include precious metals like gold, silver and palladium. In small amounts, none of these will earn you high profits, but you can collect them over time and sell them in bulk to scrap yards or even on eBay.

Another thing to keep in mind is that sometimes you'll come across a unit that was originally rented by a plumber, electrician, contractor or other person who works with a heavy volume of metal. If you know what to look for, these units can yield a high quantity of metal that can be sold at a profit. Because other bidders might not realize the scrap value of these items, you may be able to secure the lot for a low price.

Here are a few of the metals you should keep an eye out for:

  • Brass
  • Copper
  • Aluminum
  • Gold
  • Silver

It may not be immediately obvious what type of metal you're dealing with, especially since you won't be able to closely examine items before an auction. If you familiarize yourself with what types of metals tend to be used in certain items, though, you can get a decent idea of how much something may be worth to scrap. For example, anything with an electronic component will have copper coils or wiring.

Steel and iron can also be scrapped, but they're not worth as much as heavy and precious metals and alloys. At high volumes, though, everything does start to add up. Of course, you'll need to worry about storing the scrap long enough to be able to make a profit, but scrap metal from electronics and appliances takes up much less space than the whole item would otherwise.

Once you've secured enough scrap to make it worth selling, you have a few choices. Handing it over at a scrap yard is certainly the fastest option, but you will get more money selling it on eBay or other similar sites. Even better, you can see if you can work out a deal with someone local who's in the scrap metal business. Having a regular contact who's interested in buying your unwanted scrap for a reasonable price is the fastest way to churn a profit on otherwise useless metal items.

The Waiting Game at Storage Unit Auctions

Storage Unit Buyers

There's usually a lot of waiting to do before an auction. You'll need to show up early enough to get good parking, and the auctioneer could be delayed coming from the last auction of the day. You don't have to consider all of this waiting to be lost time, though. There are several things you can do during this down time that can help your business in the long run:

  • Stay in touch. If you have a smart phone with Internet capabilities, you can use it to check your email to see if a potential customer has contacted you about something you're selling. You can contact your regular buyers to see if anybody is looking for something specific so you can keep your eyes out at the auction. You can also check in on your eBay auctions or other listings, allowing you to continue running your business.
  • Network with other buyers. Different people will have different specializations and interests, and you might be able to use that to your advantage. You might find someone who looks for a specific type of item who would be willing to buy those items from you in the future. You could also find out about other sales and get industry-specific information from fellow buyers.
  • Chat with the facility owner. Being on friendly terms with the storage facility's owner is a good way to get insider information and keep your business running smoothly. You might get some tips about the contents of the storage units, and being a “regular” could earn you some extra benefits, like waived cleaning deposits, if the owner builds up trust with you.
  • Plan your route. Many auctions often happen on the same day, and you might be headed to another auction right after this one. By taking some time to plan your route, you can save yourself a few hassles. Most smart phones come with navigational apps or Google Maps so it's easy to figure out the fastest way to get somewhere.

By taking advantage of the free time you have between auctions, you can help keep yourself organized and plan your move for the next event. Between planning your auctions and networking with others in the business, you can maximize the benefits of your auction-hunting.

Using Your Android or iPhone for Storage Auction Hunting

Phone Auctions

It wasn't so long ago that cell phones were big, bulky things that were only good for making calls. Thanks to improvements in technology over the past few years, though, smart phones have become one of the most valuable and useful items that most people own.

From playing games to surfing the web, Androids and iPhones perform a lot of functions in our day-to-day lives, and they can even help you gain an edge when bidding at a storage auction. Here are five ways that you can use your smart phone to help with auction hunting:

  • Use it to map out your schedule. If you visit a lot of auctions throughout the month, you'll want to keep track of what events are happening when. Using your smart phone as a day planner, you can mark the date and times of auctions as you learn about them. You can also store important information like phone numbers and addresses. If you wish, you can set your phone to send you reminders before certain events so that you're sure to make it on time.
  • Use the navigation function to help you find the storage facility or other auction location. If you don't know where a facility is or are unfamiliar with the neighborhood, you may have a hard time making it to auctions. By using your smart phone to navigate, it will be easier to find your way without getting lost or wasting time. This can also make you more bold as you head out into parts of town you don't normally explore, which will give you more auction opportunities to attend.
  • Check prices of items at an auction. You don't have much time to examine the unit before bidding starts, but you might be able to catch a glimpse of a few interesting-looking items. Then you can use the Internet function of your phone to check eBay, Craigslist or other sites to determine how much the item could resell for. This won't always work, but it's a good tool to have in your arsenal to help you make pricing decisions when considering a unit. If the item happens to be in its original package, you can scan its bar code with your phone for the most accurate price estimate. No matter what, try to be the first person in line to look at the unit as it's opened; this will buy you a few minutes that you can use on research.
  • Use the camera. Cell phones often come with very nice camera and video capabilities. You can snap a few photos of items and post them for sale almost immediately after buying them. You can also email or text message the photo to potential interested buyers to pique their interests once you've obtained the item. You can also send a photo of an item you obtain to a knowledgeable friend. You may not be able to get a response in time to decide whether to bid, but you can certainly get a second opinion on whether it's worth trying to sell or if you should scrap it or send it to the dump. This sort of feedback can be extremely helpful when cleaning out a unit.
  • Stay in touch with your business. Many resellers like to use the Internet to communicate with clients, whether through email or a dedicated website. By using your smart phone, you can access your email, eBay shop, Etsy shop, personal website and more to check for comments, respond to questions and make sure everything is running smoothly. Since you'll be in touch with your business wherever you go, you don't need to worry about your auction-hunting taking way from the sales side of the business; you can manage both at the same time.

These are just a few of the ways that smart phones can increase your efficiency and profit at a storage auction. You can use all of these same techniques on other types of sales as well, from flea markets to garage sales, to research your purchases and communicate with buyers. By utilizing this technology, you can make the most of every auction you visit.

All About the Ratings: The New Cast Members of Storage Auction TV

Jenny Mary Storage Wars Texas

Although the absence of Lesa Lewis and Jerry Simpson from this season of Storage Wars: Texas has caused a lot of speculation, it's hard to ignore that they've been replaced by two rather attractive young women. In case that seems like a coincidence, the same phenomenon has occurred on another popular show, Spike TV's Auction Hunters.

Carolyn Gianelli Auction HuntersCarolyn – an attractive young blonde often seen in a low-cut shirt and short shorts – appeared in an earlier episode of Auction Hunters when she was seen bidding against Allen Haff. Later, Allen and Ton brought her on as their assistant for their Hawaii episode that aired on September 19. It seems fitting that an episode in Hawaii, which is generally portrayed as both glamorous and relaxed, should be the appropriate place to introduce a new character.

Little is available online about Carolyn, whose last name appears to be Giannelli. Based on her Facebook page – which boasts a modest 82 friends and seems to be mostly private – she's a self-employed Mt. SAC graduate living in Anaheim Hills, California. She's not listed on the show's IMDB page yet, but she'll be appearing in the next episode according to Spike's website. More than likely, she's due to be a new permanent staff member. Undoubtedly, as season unfolds, we'll learn more information about her.

It seems fairly transparent that her appearance on the program is an effort to attract more viewers and boost ratings. Spike TV, as a network, caters primarily to a male audience, and young female stars definitely don't hurt when it comes to connecting with that demographic. Since the Hawaii episode, many fans have been commenting on the site's Facebook fan page or asking the Internet in general about the “hot girl on Auction Hunters,” which underscores the motives of the producers.

It's not a surprise to know that attractive women have a positive impact on ratings. Even the Olympics benefited from good-looking athletes. It's one of the topics that people sometimes shy away from when considering Hollywood and television, but it's a pretty well-known phenomenon that female celebrities are expected to look a certain way. While viewers will cut old, overweight or generally unattractive men some slack, they're often pretty ruthless about female stars, sometimes even claiming that some people are “too ugly for TV.”

In many ways, reality TV has avoided this problem, and many fans have always found this to be refreshing. Seeing real people interact is, after all, the primary allure of reality TV. Unfortunately, networks seem to disagree, and more and more the human element is sidelined in favor of casting eye-candy for various roles. From the addition of Danielle Rainey and Olivia Black on Pawn Stars to the new arrivals of Jenny Grumbles and Mary Padian on Storage Wars: Texas, it's pretty clear that reality TV producers are casting with an eye toward good looks when they find female stars.

It hardly bears saying that pretty young women are not generally the norm in the storage auction world, where the work is generally dirty and tiring. This is one thing that fans particularly loved about Lesa Lewis – she was genuine and authentic, and absolutely the type of woman you're most likely to encounter when you step into a storage auction or resale business. Perhaps if fans demand more realism from their programming, a better balance can be struck to make reality TV more realistic.

Bubba Smith Bio

Bubba Smith Storage Wars Texas

Ricky Smith's nephew, Bubba is every bit the Texas gentleman of his uncle. He didn't grow up around the auction industry, but decided to pursue the lifestyle after spending a few unsatisfying years behind a desk. He's been in the auction industry since 1991 and has learned everything he knows about the trade from Ricky.

Bubba's worth a half-million on his own due in part to his role in Storage Wars: Texas and the work he does with his uncle in maintaining their distribution warehouse. Unlike other auction hunters, Bubba and Ricky don't run a consignment store; instead, they sell items to a wide network of private buyers.

Bubba helps his uncle with the technological aspects of the job, and he's quite proficient with computers. He's also an appreciator of fine art, and he hopes to maintain his own private collection or gallery some day. He does, however, get uncomfortable in tight spaces like storage units due to his extreme claustrophobia. Nevertheless, there's plenty of other work to do, and he and Ricky make a formidable tag-team opponent during auctions.