We have all seen the storage auction reality shows which make buying storage lockers look so exciting and profitable; but there are aspects of the storage auction business that they don’t show on television that aren’t quite so glamorous.
Sure, you have seen every cast member of the reality shows digging through storage units and making amazing discoveries, but when the cameras are turned off, the real work begins.
What they don’t show you on TV is one of the most time consuming and difficult parts of being a storage auction buyer.
After you purchase a storage unit, you typically have 48 hours to remove the contents and sweep out the unit. 48 hours may seem like plenty of time, but when you’re purchasing several units per week, attending auctions and marketing your merchandise, it can be difficult to meet this deadline.
Cleaning out a storage unit may require a lot of heavy lifting and physical activity.
Some storage units can contain heavy items like furniture and appliances which can be quite difficult to move. If you’re unable to move heavy items or work continuously for several hours, you should plan on recruiting some help or hiring some labor. This can actually be a plus because it allows you to search for valuables while others are loading the merchandise.
You’re going to get dirty.
Your clothing will definitely be soiled so don’t wear anything you care about. Some storage units contain dirty or greasy items like lawn equipment or auto parts and others have been sitting for years and have accumulated a lot of dust. If you have allergies, avoid units like these.
Undisturbed dust is usually a good sign that there may be something valuable in the unit because this means that the tenant has paid to store these things for years.
However, when you clean out units like these, it can be a real mess. When all is said and done, you may come out of the unit looking like a chimney sweep.
Sometimes, the weather will cause problems. You should plan on being uncomfortable if you buy an outdoor unit at the wrong time of the year. I don’t know what’s worse, being cold & wet or or sweating from the summer heat and humidity.
During the summer, the temperature inside a storage unit is usually a lot higher than the outside temperature. It can feel like an oven especially since there is little to no air movement.
Some older facilities even have inside units with poorly operating ventilation or no ventilation at all. Combine extreme temperatures with heavy lifting and it doesn’t take long before you wish you were somewhere else.
Some units contain unwanted surprises: bugs, spiders, rat feces, spoiled food, illegal drugs, pornographic material, sexual devices, bed bugs, meth labs, and other hazardous materials.
Some people even sleep in these units and where do you think they relieve themselves? Here is a tip: Always be careful when opening coffee cans. Also be careful when removing items from the unit. Items that are not properly stacked can fall on you causing serious injury.
Cleaning out a storage unit is quite time consuming. Once you decide what you’re going to keep, you’ll need to load your merchandise into your vehicle. Some units will contain a lot of trash and unsellable merchandise.
It is still your responsibility to remove everything from the unit, regardless of whether you want it or not. Most storage facilities will not allow you to use their dumpster so plan on making a trip to the dump every now and then.
If you fail to remove everything from the unit, you will lose your security deposit and you can get barred from attending future auctions.
After reading this article, I’m sure the “reality” of this business is starting to set in. This business requires a lot of work, sometimes in dangerous, uncomfortable and disgusting conditions. So why do people do this you ask?
The answer is because it is exciting, you can make a decent living at it and you never know what you’re going to find in the next box you open.
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