8 Tips for Storage Auction Success

October 10, 2015 by  
Filed under How To, Spotlight

Storage Auction Success

So you’ve looked at storage auctions and decided you want to try to make some money from buying and selling contents. I’m going to outline some things you need to consider at a bare minimum before jumping into an auction.

There may be additional considerations depending on your location, the nature of the auction and facility policies, so do your research. Bottom line is to have storage auction success you need to plan ahead.

Okay, let’s set the stage…it’s the morning of the auction. You arrive a few minutes early to get your bearings. You notice there’s already a variety of trucks and trailers staged in the parking area.

You think to yourself, it shouldn’t take long to figure out where the action is. And before you know it you spot a crowd gathering as they wait for the auction to begin. That’s pretty well all there is to know about getting integrated with an auction. You may be asked to sign-in on an attendance sheet but even then it’s a very casual affair.

And that brings me to my…

Here are my best 8 tips for storage auction success

1. Transport
You will need a suitable vehicle or trailer. If you bid successfully, you will be expected to remove all the contents you have bid on. That can mean within 24 hours or less. This is something specific you need to inquire about at that particular auction site, preferably in advance.

All contents are expected to be removed from the unit and that includes the garbage. Don’t fool yourself into thinking you can cherry-pick and leave the junk behind for the site manager.

To make things even more difficult some of the auction locations may not allow the use of their garbage bins. That means added time, labor and cost for you. All the more reason to bid wisely.

2. Helpers
Getting those contents from the unit to the truck will require people. Even a small unit could require hours of going back and forth to empty it. Keep in mind, the unit could be a fair hike from the parking area.

3. Moving Supplies
Along with helpers I suggest you bring at least two types of moving dollies. I use the stand-up dolly, and an adjustable flat dolly. Bring sash cord or elastic cords to secure items and free up your hands. You may want to bring some inexpensive plastic drop-sheets in case of inclement weather. You could use tarps but drop-sheets are much lighter and easier to deal with.

“I also bring gaffer tape with me. In some locations you will encounter automatic doors operated by sensors. Put a piece of tape over the sensor ‘eye’, to keep doors open while moving materials. This is generally not allowed but if you let the management know, I find they give you some leeway on this. Just remember to remove it when you are finished.”

“For storage auction success treat it as a chance to learn while you earn”

4. Evaluation Equipment
When the door rolls up and before the auctioneer begins you have only a few minutes to check out the contents. You are not permitted to enter the unit. You may also have to look through a group of taller people.

One idea is to bring a small folding step stool. Stand back from the crowd climb up and look over their heads. You can also use a scope or binoculars. Scan the contents looking for indications of value. Some people use a powerful flashlight as well.

5. Homework
Attending storage auctions does not obligate you to bid. I went to many where I simply watched and learned. For me just understanding the auctioneer took time. In time you will get almost a feel for contents as well. Household goods are fairly consistent from auction to auction.

There may also be the occasional unique item mixed in such as an old drafting table or old style retro telephone.

Even if you go only to observe make note of what you saw in the unit. Do your homework afterwards – calculate values. Figure your costs for the time to move what you saw. Don’t forget the expenses to cover your helper. This is a great exercise if you plan to make money from this.

6. Safety Wear
If you are successful in bidding you will now be permitted access. Make sure to bring safety gloves, glasses and dust masks. I would also suggest safety footwear, kneepads and a hat. Some units have precariously stacked boxes or furniture. You may encounter broken glass from crushed picture frames.

Don’t forget to bring a small first aid kit, with bandages and wound cleaner. Bumps and cuts happen when rushing to move items.

“A headband style lamp will free your hands and save a lot of time.”

7. Locks
Depending on how many helpers you have, you may have to walk away from the unit to load up. It’s good practice to bring a couple of designated locks. I have a marker tag on my lock, identifying it as “winning bidder”, while walking to and from my truck.

Just in case someone from the management office happens by and “cuts it off”- thinking they overlooked it earlier. The second lock is for your truck.

8. Money
This should be obvious but it’s worth mentioning anyways. Bring enough money to cover your bid. Before placing any bids make sure you are familiar with their payment policies, whether cash or credit etc.

If you are paying by cash make sure your money is secure. While moving boxes and climbing in and out of a truck is enough to knock your wallet from your pocket. I find a wallet chain to be extremely helpful.

If you do decide to check out an auction come back and share your storage auction success story in the comments. Or if you have any additional tips to share that’s even better. The best advice in the end is to treat it like an adventure and you will never be disappointed.

Best of luck and collect well.


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