Storage Warriors, post your best/wierdest finds

I occasionally buy abandoned storage units at auction. I usually bottom fish, going for cheaper units - the most I have paid for a unit was $100, I usually stay in the $10-40 range. I only bid on units that contain something that I, or someone I know, want or need. Here are some of my interesting finds:
Most valuable overall - the $100 unit I got because it contained a nice pair of folding truck ramps, like these. It turned out to also contain enough tools, stereo equipment, motorcycle riding accessories and Pokémon collectibles to be worth about $1,000. Most of the good stuff was stashed out of view in two 4 drawer file cabinets.
Best single snag - One unit yielded, among other things, a fully functional Bowflex machine complete with leg attachment. I paid $30 for that unit.
Luckiest win - I accidently bid $10 on a unit and ended up winning it. It turned out to have several pieces of NY Giants memorabilia, including 2 Manning jerseys (replicas) and a NY Giants Tervis cup. My son-in-law is an avid Giants fan.
Funniest find - probably the leopard skin bra. Couldn’t convince my wife to try it on, though :smiley:
Scariest find - several very small plastic storage bagscoated with white powder residue :eek:. Didn’t find those until I was back home. Didn’t taste to see if it was powdered sugar. Other items in the unit lead me to believe it was not.

I keep what I want/need, give away what anyone else wants/needs and donate most of the rest to Goodwill. I sell very few items, but the ones I have sold more than pay for the habit.

Anyone else share this hobby?

I’ve never done this but have seen the TV show. From what I can see, it looks like much of the stuff in these storage spaces belongs in a landfill. So how does that part work; can you just fill the dumpster at the storage place? Or do you have to drag it to the transfer station yourself? What about things like bedbugs?

Much does go straight to the trash, but using the dumpster at the storage site is a huge no-no. The buyer must take everything out of the unit and off the property. Most storage facilities collect a deposit of $50-100 above the bid price to ensure you do so. You get the deposit back when the unit is empty and “broom clean”. This has lead me to several self imposed rules:

  1. I have never bid on a unit that contains 1 or more mattress/box springs/cloth furniture due to the potential for bugs (and the PITA of hauling them off). I have bought a unit with a leather sofa.
  2. I never bid on a unit that looks like someone backed up a truck and dumped it in.
  3. I never bid on any unit that looks like clean up would be more of a pain than the stuff is worth (which, for me, is a pretty low bar!).
  4. Any and all clothing is bagged and taken straight to Goodwill. Except that one shirt that I really liked.

It’s just a hobby for me, but I can see how it could become a full time thing.

How do you find auctions? It sounds like fun.

They advertise in my local newspaper along with other auctions.

I go the online route. Google “on line storage auctions”.

Also, how long have you been doing this? I expect that the TV shows have brought more people to the auctions, and perhaps raised the amounts needed to win them.

About 100 pairs of crotchless panties. From size 2 to 30. All brand new in packages. Sold surprising well on Ebay.

Best find on a locker I paid only $40 was a fresh rebuilt small block Ford 302 engine. Came with all the receipts. Sold it for $1200.

I’ve been doing it about a year, so I can’t really speak to that question.

Ooh! Next time I find underwear in a storage unit I’ll just cut a hole in the crotch and profit!

Are the ones you’ve been to set up like in the TV show, where they open the door and you can look in from outside but not enter the unit?

Ever find anything illegal in a locker?

I do the on line version. Instead of looking in the door in person, the storage facility posts pictures. Some do a good job with the pictures, some are crappy. I don’t bid unless I have a really good idea what is in the picture(s).

As for illegal, see “Scariest find” in the OP.

Do the the storage places really not do a first pass through the units before auctioning them?

Also, damn you, because now I’m considering this. Can you tell me the basics of how the online auctions work? I found the major sites, but they’re a bit confusing. I promise not to compete with you!

Nearly twenty years ago I briefly worked for a couple of storage companies. Most of the stuff that
was auctioned off or got left behind wasn’t that exciting but there were a few that I remember:

**Scariest find **- One customer left behind an old worn rifle. That morning the district manager – a cold hearted person
who everyone hated - had dropped in for few minutes. When I found the rifle later that day, I handed it
over to my boss who joked that she might find it useful the next time the district manager visited.

**Most expensive **- Another customer renting a large unit fell way behind and despite many phone calls and
letters sent by registered mail never bothered to pay or even contact us. The day before the contents were
to be auctioned off we called them again a couple times but still got no answer. We left messages
on their answering machine and hoped for the best. The next morning we found a they had left a reply
on our answering machine that they would come in at noon and pay. My boss immediately grabbed
the phone only to get the answering machine again. She left a message that their reply did not
stop the auction, the auction started at 10:00am sharp and they better get down here and
pay or else. At ten o’clock with the auctioneer and the bidders ready to start, my boss
asked that the large unit be sold last to give the tenet a little more time. This
did no good - at about 10:45 the lock was cut and the door opened. Inside was an antique rocking
horse and many piece of beautiful antique furniture in excellent condition.
After a brief inspection by the bidders the auction started
and by the time it was over storage company was about $2000 richer. The auctioneer and the
winning bidders finished up their business by about 11:30 and moved on to another storage
facility down the street. At 12:00 exactly the tenet and her husband showed up only to
find that she had lost everything. The now ex-tenet shrieked, became hysterical and ran to her
storage unit only to find that the winning bidder had put his lock on the door. The husband
tried to pay but when that was refused became very angry and yelled that he was going to
sue us. Explaining several times all the steps we had gone through to try to get them pay on time did
no good and finally my boss ordered them to leave. It was an ugly scene that ended only
when my boss picked up the phone and threatened to call the police. They left with the ex-tenet in
tears and her husband screaming that they were going to take us to court. I never heard anything
about them again.

**Strangest **- We had one tenant who would stop by from time to time to unload things
into his storage unit. I saw him several times but never paid much attention him. One day I noticed
that he had forgotten to lock his unit so I looked inside and found it was filled about waist deep
with neat stacks of newspaper. I reported this to my boss and she told me that this tenet had
several other units filled with stacks of newspaper. As soon as one unit was filled floor to ceiling
he would rent another. My boss did mind at all - the tenant always paid his rent on time and
gave us no trouble.

Saddest? - One of my duties was to call customers who had fallen behind in their rent. One
gentleman I called had a voice that sounded like it was coming from someone who very old and had
one foot in the grave. He would always tell me that he wasn’t able to come in and that we could
just toss out the contents of his unit if we wanted. Of course we couldn’t do this - it was against
company rules. This went on for over a month until one day I called and no one answered - not even
an answering machine. Over the next couple weeks I called several times but no one ever picked up the
phone. Not long after this I quit and moved onto a better job so I never heard anything more. I have
always wondered what happened - did this he die? When I would call was there
a cobweb covered dead body sitting next to a ringing telephone?

Well, never say never but that would be a huge no-no and (in most states at least) highly illegal.

It’s pretty easy. Register and provide a credit card for billing purposes, filter the listed auctions for those closest to you, sort by ending date/time and start looking at pictures. When you find one on which you want to bid enter your bid amount. You can go back anytime prior to auction closing and raise your bid, or simply bid your maximum amount and let it “auto bid” as necessary.