Storage Unit Auctions are receiving a lot of coverage in the local and nationwide media right now, probably due to the two new TV shows covering this subject on Spike and A&E. As a result, I’ve seen hundreds of new participants at our local storage auctions in the past two weeks.
Most of these folks are there simply to see what’s going on. Some have more realistic hopes of supplementing their income; others have been mislead into thinking they will routinely strike it rich by uncovering a constant, low-cost, string of firearms, tools, antiques and cash. These folks are not shy when it comes to asking questions, and it’s entertaining to see the different responses they get from the more experienced auction hunters.
Some of the regulars will tell you everything they know, while others are tight-lipped and just smile when asked questions. I tend to be pretty open in my discussions surrounding storage auction finds and guidelines for generating a profit. With all the books and online resources covering this subject, it’s silly to think you’re doing yourself a favor by “hoarding” information that these folks can and will easily find later. Plus, you can make some decent business connections by being open and friendly with people, even if they are your competitor at the auction.
For most, storage auctions should be viewed as an exciting and often profitable hobby. For others who have the time, money and interest, these auctions can provide a viable source of secondary income. An even smaller few have hopes of building a full-time business from storage unit auction winnings, which is quite an undertaking and not for everyone.
One of the biggest obstacles to overcome for the storage auction-based business is space requirements. You can fill a two car garage with the contents of a few small indoor storage units. As a business, you need to be acquiring anywhere from five to twenty (or more) storage units a week, of varying sizes, with focus on getting quality units at a decent price, which isn’t always easy when there are a lot of experienced bidders in attendance. Sorting the contents from a large number of units and managing inventory takes A LOT OF SPACE.
Also, without commercially acceptable warehouse space, you will be making endless trips to the landfill and Goodwill to get rid of items you don’t want or can’t sell. The time and gas you will waste doing this alone is enough to corrupt the viability of the business. With commercial space (which isn’t cheap where I come from) you can manage dumpsters, arrange for Goodwill trucks to come to you, and handle shipping more easily.
Naturally, the overhead for staff to help you clear units and move items, sort, create sales listings, and handle inventory and perform shipping tasks would need to be tightly managed. The time spent putting these business processes together is exhausting. Bad units and wasted time could put the novice or unlucky new business owner in a financial hole within a matter of weeks. I’ve seen it.
Smart folks will wade into the storage auction world slowly and enjoy themselves while taking part in this treasure hunt. If you haven’t yet, get out there and bid; get your hands dirty cleaning a unit and have some fun with it!
We want to hear your storage auction stories! Contact us if you would like to share your experiences on our blog!