Question from Anne G. in Hawaii:
A friend gave me your book and I gave it a quick read. It sounds like you’re suggesting people to prey upon the misfortune of others to find stuff to sell? (Hateful rant omitted.)
Anne, thank you for your question. I get asked this one a lot. It is true that much of the merchandise I have sold came from people who were in financial distress. One way to look at this is you’re either predator or prey. You either eat or get eaten. Now, this is not such a pleasant way to look at things so I choose to look at it as follows:
There many, many reasons that a may become in a weak financial position; loss of a job, excessive debt, gambling, drinking/drugs, divorce, imprisonment and death. I have found evidence of these personal problems in some of the delinquent storage units I have purchased at auction. I didn’t have anything to do with the person failing to pay their rent on their stored goods. In fact, when I show up to an auction and the auctioneer tells us that several of the people paid their delinquent rent, I cheer them. I think people should pay the rent to save their stuff if it has value to them. Why would they have put it in storage otherwise? If everyone would just pay their rent there would never be a storage unit auction. But for whatever reason, some people don’t pay their rent and the auction goes forward. When I buy it, I move it out of the storage facility so the facility can rent the space – furthering commerce. I clean it and sell it, recycling if you will. So you could say that I’m performing a service which furthers economic growth. I think of it as a green business.
Who’ this Dirk? Read about Dirk
The first question comes from Mary F., Chicago, Ill.
I’m quite upset with you. My husband bought your book and purchased two storage unit auctions, against my better judgment. Now, we have a house full of stuff and although he’s sold some of it, I can’t stand my house looking like a junk yard. My husband acts like he has gold fever and is ready to buy more. What should I do?
Mary, I’m glad your husband read my book, did you read it? I explained several ways to move the merchandise once you bring it home. I assume you held a garage sale since that’s the best way to move a house full of merchandise. Here’s a couple of more suggestions to unload large quantities of merchandise if you’re not willing to sell individual pieces. Look in the phone book for auction houses in Chicago, there should be several. Go see a couple of these auctions and you’ll see that you can create box lots with many items. Box lots are a great way to make some money and get rid of the stuff around your house. Another suggestion would be to load a truck full of items and take to your local swap meet. If you really just want to get rid of the stuff, load it up and take it to your favorite charity and get the receipt – you can deduct at least $500 from your taxes. If you don’t want to be bothered loading it up, put an ad on craigslist under the free section and watch people back up their trucks and haul everything away.
I’m sorry you’re upset with your husband but you should consider reading the book and working with him as a team. Two heads are always better than one when it comes to selling your house full of merchandise. It takes constant energy to list and sell. If you don’t want to do it, you should just tell him you don’t like that. If he doesn’t understand your desires maybe you guys should seek marriage counseling.
Who’ this Dirk? Read about Dirk
Scotty Boy, I was at a storage unit auction in Las Vegas and I couldn’t believe what people were paying for the stuff. What is going on with this craziness?
James B., Las Vegas
James, I was in town for the storage unit auction last week you’re referring to and I agree that there is some craziness going on here. What I saw were a bunch of laptards, desperate for merchandise, willing to pay anything to give themselves work. That first storage unit auctioned off for $750 absolutely blew my mind. There’s no way, in my opinion that unit full of junk could have been a profitable purchase at that amount. In fact, everything sold at that particular auction was sold too high. As a professional buyer, I just watch and walk away from such situations. It appears, at least at the moment that the gig is up in the Las Vegas Storage Unit Auction game. So it’s time to move to plan B.
Plan B: There are still many buying opportunities out there that you can be looking at – it just takes more effort on your part to find them. Try looking over the collectibles for sale on craigslist. When you see something that strikes your fancy, check the completed listings on ebay. What you’re looking for is a high percentage of listed items closing and an average amount per sale. When you find something that looks like a winner on ebay, go back to craigslist and start making low-ball offers on the ads. If you’re persistent enough with this, you will get merchandise and be able to make a profit on ebay. Also, get back on a garage sale circuit. Stay away from the pro garage sale and stick with the people who just want to clear out stuff so that they can go buy more stuff. There are many fantastic bargains waiting for ebay sellers at garage sales. In time, the las vegas storage unit auction circuit will thin out. The laptards that are overpaying will go out of business and you can get sheds full of great stuff cheap perhaps. But you can’t put all your eggs in one basket so being in an opportunistic business, you have to go where the opportunities are.
Thanks for the great question – I hope this answer helps.
Hey Scott, I bought my first storage unit at auction last week. There was some decent stuff, furniture, appliances, a sweet tv, some video games and dvd’s. The reason I’m writing is I found an old painting but I can’t find anything about it because it’s not signed. Any ideas on how I can figure out if it’s worth anything?
Ron, Las Vegas
Hi Ron, congrats on getting some good stuff. I have to tell you that my wife and I have found some art that we couldn’t figure out anything about. I have a couple ideas that might help you. I am aware of four auction houses near Las Vegas, Las Vegas Auction, McManus Auction, Clark County Public Auction, and Darwin’s Auction at the Boulder City Antique Mall. They all offer consignment and might have an idea about the value of your painting. You can also take digital pictures and start sending them out to various places on the internet like askart.com and artnet.com. What we usually do is take great pictures and list them on ebay with a starting price of 9.99 but we purchase the Gallery Plus feature. This gets the painting an affordable exposure and we’ve sold the majority of our art this way. One last option is to call some local antique dealers and ask them if they’re interested in looking at the painting. We’ve had several come to the house and we ask them lots of questions. They usually say they have to research the item and you’ll never hear from them again. The process can be frustrating but the last thing you want to happen is sell it at a garage sale for $50 and then see the buyer on the antique roadshow with a $20,000 painting.
Hope that helps,
Scott R Asher
Yes! As a matter of fact – I found gold in most storage units I won at auction!
I am not talking about striking it rich by finding a stack of gold bars in a storage unit, but I would say that 8 out of 10 storage units with everyday household items had some sort of gold in them.
Most people own some-type of gold, earrings, necklace, rings, teeth, just about anything you can think of. One ring might be worth twenty bucks, but put all your gold together and it really adds up! Over the time I was buy storage units at auction I would say I found about 3 ounces of scrap gold total.
Want to sell your gold? Gold scams are at an all-time high so you need to be careful.
What is the best way to cash in your gold?
First you need to find out just how much gold you have. Then you need to find out what karat of gold you have and the weight. Then this will give you an idea of what your gold is worth.
The best way to proceed is to shop around! I would get 3-5 bids and only deal in cash, because onces it gone, it’s gone!
Many people claim to pay the most, but this not true. Gold buyers are looking to pay the least for your gold, so the closer to market value you can get the better off you are.
There are many ways to sell storage auctioned goods, I am going to go over what I feel worked well for me and why.
eBay – eBay started as a strong front runner when I first got started buying storage units, but after rising cost for listing items on eBay, the shipping cost and Paypal fees this became less of an attractive method to move my storage auction winnings. In my opinion, eBay’s feeing system was no longer advantageous for the seller.
Craigslist – I like Craigslist overall, but even with this method of selling things it has some unwanted side effects. I know Craigslist in some markets is much better than others, but with all the new changes making listing more challenging and the overall decline in quality responses, craigslist in my mind has became almost annoying.
**SELLERS NOTE: I think eBay and craigslist is very useful tools, but you must be selective in what items you sell! Cost involved with eBay only make it a good for selling things with a high return, Craigslist is hit or miss on almost anything, and you always have to deal with lots of spam.
Selling at Garage sale – This I think is best way to sell your storage items, it uses everything you have right in-front of you, and very low over-head! I think most treasure seekers are out and about! You might be asking yourself, do I want to sell my stuff at the garage sale? I think that answerer is “Yes.” Many people are out seeking items that have value to make potential money left on the table.
Can’t have a garage sale? No Problem! Most cities have a local flea-market, an for just a few bucks you can get in-front of 100’s of people to sell your items.
With eBay and craigslist there is a premium to be paid on everything you sell. It might be gas, to meet people or shipping materials, it all adds up to something! I found that a garage sale brings everyone to me, todays garage sale shopper is a savvy collector, digging in the trenches for products to resale, even to this day I can still spot items to buy for just a few bucks and make 100’s reselling them on eBay.
One thing I feel was most important about part of buying auction units, was saving money when transporting your items.
So much money can be lost when moving items. I found that having a trailer allowed me move items quickly and easily. Truck rentals like Uhaul can add hundred of dollars in extra cost to overcome, a trailer cost me almost nothing.
Fun Fact: The trailer was a old bumper pull travel trailer, that I cut off the top and paid $35.00 dollars for @ auction.
Looking to strike it rich, buying storage units at auction?
When you goto an storage auction, you over hear everybody joking about finding gold bars in some storage unit and striking it rich buying some abandon storage unit that sells to some lucky guy for twenty dollars.
I personally have not found any gold bars in a storage unit, but I have had some nice finds. BUT don’t kid yourself – the treasure hunting spirit is alive within everyone. The ROI (or return on investment) you can hope to receive from buying storage units is about $7.00-$9.00 for every $1.00 you invest.
Want to see what I have found in the storage units I won? look here