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.