About three months ago, I started bidding on storage units. What started as a whim has turned into a full blown hobby of sorts. I’m pretty sure folks think I’m nuts.
My first auction hooked me. I pulled up in our red Chevy, no idea what auction protocol was. I jumped right in and started asking questions. At first, the regulars wouldn’t talk to me. Luckily, I can talk to just about anyone even if they don’t want to listen or answer, it’s a gift really. Eventually, I broke them down and stole their hearts. They weren’t too sure about me being as I was the newbie. They all tried to convince me that I had to buy everyone lunch. They are some characters, I assure you.
Bidding on a unit is the easy part. Cleaning it out isn’t for the faint of heart, especially in Texas in the summertime.
I have come across some interesting things. I have started naming the units by the most intriguing item I find. I’ve had the Freddy Krueger locker, the “intimate toy” locker and the cookbook locker, to mention a few.
People are very interested in this crazy endeavour of mine. I have been asked a lot of questions lately. I thought I’d answer a few of them.
What do you do with all of that stuff once you clean out the locker? Luckily, we had a storage unit that housed our boat. The boat is now tucked on the side of the house, probably glad to be out of that stifling environment. Our storage unit now the home to treasures, as Stuart calls them.
What does Stuart think? Funny enough, he started all of this with silent auctions. After we almost killed ourselves emptying out a contractors unit in Houston, I offered to start going to local auctions. Actually, I told him he couldn’t bid on anymore lockers! That was all she wrote, here I am three months later, anticipating today’s auction.
Why are you doing this? To keep busy is the short answer. However, I have many reaped many positive things from this latest adventure. It is another thing that Stuart and I can do together. Although there is the occasional spat over the execution of securing the straps, we are having a ball together. It’s satisfying. Stuart told me last night that searching for treasures is satisfying. He also shared that his job is like prison and he is just doing his time. A sentiment most share I’m sure. That it isn’t satisfying at all. That made my heart hurt. He went on to say that he looks forward to seeing what kind of return we can get on minimal investment. Truth be told, he loves the treasure hunt. Hurricane lamps and Zippo lighters are his favorite finds. It’s profitable. It’s crazy what you can do with seed money totaling $420, a truck and a trailer. It’s also good exercise. I hurt like heck after but it feels good to sweat!
Where do you sell your treasures? The bigger items, I sell online. Those items usually get me back in the black pretty fast. I think I’ve sold about six washers and seven dryers in the past three months. The smaller items are peddled at a local flea market once a month. This is an experience to say the least. Watching Stuart in action makes me smile. We also donate a lot to a local thrift shop that helps families in need.
What’s your goal? I am trying to see how much profit I can make off a $420 dollar investment in one year. I’m not sure why the seed money was $420. I think that amount is what Stuart profited on a unit in the beginning. The profit margin for three months is better than the stock market for sure and a lot more fun!
What’s the weirdest thing that you have found? I can’t pick just one! There seems to be a common thread in most lockers including: wheelchairs and crutches, books and evidence of marijuana. The latter used to shock me, now I don’t even bat an eye. Truth is you never know what you are going to find. In one locker I found a box of “toys.” I’ll let you figure out what kind. I will say I had to send Stuart pictures and ask him where the parts went. Those treasures were disposed of immediately. Good times, good times. Disclosure: I always wear gloves when going through stuff.
How do you find the auctions? The auction notifications are online. I also bid online. The online bidding isn’t as fun but it does save gas.
Is it like Storage Wars on tv? In theory, yes. There is an auctioneer, not as dynamic as the ones on the show however. Andrew, the auctioneer, might take offense to that. There are the regulars just like on the show. I’ve met some interesting folks on the auction circuit. I’ll tell you about Ivan in a minute. I guess I could be considered a regular now. The rules are the same. You can’t go in the locker. You have to have cash at the end as well as your own lock to secure the unit. You are usually given 72 hours to empty the unit.
How many people are there bidding with you? Believe it or not there is never less than twenty others present Out of the twenty, only a handful ever bid. I’ve learned a lot from a husband and wife team. There is definitely a learning curve when it comes to bidding. I’ve met a history teacher, looking for adventure over the summer. We had plenty to talk about. I’ve also got to know another Julie and Ivan. Ivan is my nemesis. He intimidates the heck out of me and he doesn’t even know it. He looks like Santa Claus, has a Romanian accent and is a big spender. I’m looking forward to going up against him today. Wish me luck!
What have I learned over the past three months? I think we all have a little storage unit warrior in us. The difference is, some of us will act on it, not caring what others will think. Find what makes you happy and do it. Don’t take life or yourself too serious folks. You never know when you will have to reinvent yourself or find something to keep you busy, mind and body. Keep an open mind. Satisfaction can be found in the strangest of places.
I’m headed off on my next treasure hunt! Keep it wonky y’all!