MODERN TREASURE HUNTING IN THE TREASURE VALLEY

Storage Auctions May Lead to Bounty, or You May Come Up Bust

Storage Wars

MODERN TREASURE HUNTING IN THE TREASURE VALLEY

Storage Auctions May Lead to Bounty, or You May Come Up Bust

By Michelle Ochsner

Treasure hunting; Mans journey of discovery with high hopes of striking it rich. The excitement of finding priceless items captivates and allures even the most frugal. Storage auctions are Americans latest attempt to get rich quick and these buyers are no different from any other treasure hunter.

A Storage Unit is repossessed by the facility owner in an attempt to recover the debt by auctioning off items found inside. Auctions are publicly listed online with real-time listings and in classified advertisements found in the paper.

Experienced buyers know all too well that the odds of finding that rare life-changing item are slim to none. But the hunt keeps them coming back. However, as exhilarating as it seems, cleaning out a unit is hard and sometimes expensive work.

Winning a bid on a storage locker packed with garbage bags and shabby boxes will almost always cost you money. By the time you pay for the unit, hire people to help clean it out, pay for gas, and dump fees you’ll be in the negative. There are occasions when you’ll find a hidden treasure that pays for the bid and then some; but for the most part, garbage is garbage.

Furniture and appliances are items that will make money. High-end household property with neatly packaged boxes or totes are a buyer’s best bet. The contractor’s tools and scrap metal also pay well. These will bring in the most profit. However, these will also be expensive units because of everyone bids on them.

With TV shows like A&E’s Storage Wars, regular bidders are dramatically impacted. Newbie’s swarm the scene making ridiculously high bids, drive prices way too high. The lure of an event brings more people and higher bids.

Many storage units are untidy and disorganized, so an optical illusion can make items seem to be in far better condition than they actually are. These units will often go for more than $1500.  Upon entry, the buyer discovers that those pieces are damaged beyond repair and it’s off to the dump. These units often fool even the most skilled professionals.

Idaho laws and regulations are strict and with eight years of experience, Meridian storage manager, Diana LaBeau knows the ins and outs. “It’s not like the TV shows. Auctions last about ten minutes and then everyone goes home. State law requires bidders to sign in and no one is allowed to touch the contents until a purchase is confirmed; we can’t even enter. Storage managers go well out of our way to prevent these auctions. It’s definitely a last resort and we don’t enjoy them because some people are losing everything including family heirlooms. Some have lost their jobs while others are destitute. It’s sad.”

Owners usually do not make a profit from auctions.  As a business, it’s necessary to try and make up the loss of revenue and unfortunately this is how it’s done.

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