“You say that the third step to financial freedom is quitting your job. This seems like financial suicide right now. The last thing you should advise anyone to do in this crappy economy is quit their job. You’re just a third rate hack with bad advice.”
Robert, I’m deducting the bonus points I gave you for reading the book for the fact that you did not phrase your email in the form of a question. Still, your comment deserves a response so here it goes. You’ll recall that I gave you permission in the book to do what is best for you, it’s not a hard and fast rule. I hope you’d agree with me that if you had the opportunity to work for yourself, that would be better than making someone else’s financial dreams come true. However, if your life circumstances, ie. you are broke, keep you in your job until you can get out of debt, save some money or whatever you need to do to start living a sane, financial life within your means, then by all means, stay at your job. Robert, I respectfully suggest you re-read the chapter on activating the Observer. If you can do this one thing, you will be the person answering the questions instead of some guy you don’t know from Adam. Hey, thanks for buying my book though and I hope you come back for the next one!
Interview with Storage Unit Auction author Dirk McFergus
Scott: It’s my pleasure today to speak with my friend, Dirk McFergus, author of “From Garage Sale to Financial Freedom in Five Steps.” I don’t think many people know this but I have the first copy of his book and had the opportunity to watch him and his wife thrive in the Las Vegas storage auction business.
Dirk, you wrote about storage auctions back in 2008, do you think anything has changed since it’s become the subject of reality TV shows?
Dirk: Well, my book wasn’t just about storage auctions, it is about overcoming the disease of consumerism and learning to profit from it but clearly, purchasing mass quantities of deeply discounted second hand goods at storage unit auction was an integral part of the system I was proposing. The funny thing about what’s happening in the storage auction world today isn’t really that different than it was in 2008 there’s still tons of newbies and tons of old dogs running up the bids on those unaware of a storage unit’s potential value. TV has had an increase in the amount of people who are looking for alternative ways to make money by selling second hand goods.
Scott: When was the last auction you went to?
Dirk: Susan and I went to several auctions in Albuquerque last month. We recently moved to the area and were hoping to furnish our home. What we saw was quite interesting. While I doubt there will ever be a reality tv program about buying storage unit auctions in Albuquerque everyone there seems to think that there is a camera just around the corner. What people are paying for units there is outrageous. We ended up buying what we needed on craigslist. We’ll go back to auction again because we love the thrill but we refuse to overpay for anything, you know?
Scott: You know I have some theories about how to value the contents of a storage unit, how do you determine a unit’s value at auction?
Dirk: I read the articles on your website and agree with you about valuation. First, there’s what you can see. If I can see a refrigerator, I figure it’s worth at least a hundred bucks on the used market. If I see a couch, same deal. I mentally tabulate what I think I can sell the contents that I can see. Then there’s the boxes – if they were purchased, I figure the owner at least cared enough to buy storage boxes. If they’re in plastic bins, I figure the bins are worth $5 bucks each regardless of the contents. Then there’s the overall feel of the unit – did the people seem to care about their stuff or is it just thrown in as if they couldn’t wait to get rid of it. Some of this comes from experience; after you’ve seen the lid open on hundreds of units you develop an instinct and have an idea whether you should gamble or not.
Scott: I noticed that people seemed to gravitate towards certain types of units after a while. What types of units did you like to buy?
Dirk: I just loved to get into a true collector’s storage unit. One unit I bought had over 300 die cast car models selling between $30-$100 each on ebay and I loved everything about it. Those types of units were few and far between but that’s what I looked for. On the other hand, if I saw a unit with a visible tool box I wouldn’t bid on it because I thought there were just too many people looking for tools and paying too much for the units.
Scott: One of the things I noticed was that there was almost something weird or freaky in every unit. What’s the freakiest thing you found in a storage unit?
Dirk: That’s a tough question because we found some really freaky stuff, some freaky good, some not so good. On the bad side, it’s a toss up between the bag of dildos and the drug kits. On the good side was the freaky fully customized .38 handgun with laser scope or the solid gold penis piercing rod which brought us $900 from cashforgold.com.
Scott: Why did you get out of the storage unit business?
Dirk: I think I asked you the same thing when you were telling us about your experience and you said you got tired of moving other people’s things around and that’s sort of what happened to Susan and I. You saw the freak show that we lived in and how much merchandise we had in our home. You get to a point where you just have to have a retail outlet or you can never have a normal home. And the job is extremely physical. Towards the end, I would pass on units simply because I didn’t want to move the goods.
Scott: I really loved what you had to say in your book. I don’t think it has quite caught on like it should have. Has the book been successful for you?
Dirk: The funny thing is that I really wrote the book to clarify what I was thinking for my own benefit. The storage auction business really exposed me to many ideas that were just so far outside the conventional world that I had previously occupied. So writing successfully clarified a bunch of ideas that were burning in my mind at the time. The other thing is that I have done absolutely no promotion for the book whatsoever so the couple hundred copies it’s sold to complete strangers is truly remarkable to me.
Scott: What are you up to these days, your author bio says you live in Mexico.
Dirk: I don’t live in Mexico, that was something we were trying to do that didn’t really work out. We live in New Mexico and do a variety of things to earn money.
Scott: That sounds interesting and weird, you’re not willing to share any more than that?
Dirk: You know, there’s a hundred thousand different ways to earn money and the truth is that if you pick one and perform the tasks over and over again that the money will follow. I’ve picked on of the hundred thousand ways and perform the tasks repeatedly and it’s kind of boring. In my spare time, I co-authored a book with my super intelligent wife Susan McFergus about storage unit auctions which is currently with the editor.
Scott: Well, hopefully I’m able to introduce you to some new readers and I’d love to have a copy of your new book.
Dirk: I’ll give you a copy, in fact, I was looking at covers and none of the designs I was present with seem to express what I had in mind and maybe you’d like to add another book cover to your impressive design portfolio. Thanks for taking the time to call me. Best of success to you and your readers.
An email question I received, about buying storage units in Las Vegas.
First, I wanted to thank you for your awesome website!! The hubby and I were thinking of maybe buying a storage unit or two. We have been doing other sales on craigslist, but wanted to see if we can step it up a notch. I read your scammers beware part and we were thinking the same thing so were a little scared to get out there with our hard earned mu-la. I wanted to see if you happen to know if any companies that you have dealt with that you think we should stay away from? I know there is times when we have learned a lesson the hard way and I always share with friends when I do. We have five kids so we have plenty of crap of our own to sell all the time but with buying a storage unit here and there we are hoping to buy a house in this down market. Any help much appreciated. We will be heading out to the first auction this Saturday that I found in the announcements. Thanks for the link and tutorial. –Sarah, Las Vegas
First off I would like to Thank you for your question.
Buying storage’s units is overall very safe venture, most of the time its only a few hundred dollars at risk. Storage units can go for almost anything, but bidding on what you can see is a money saving statement. The best way to look at it, is like this… At the time of bidding, if you where 100% ready to pay for what you could physically see inside the storage unit, “most of the time” there is not going to be a problem. It is when I here of someone overpaying when they see a big screen TV, or something they believe to be a “goldmine” is when you run into a problem. Gamble at your own risk.
I have been burned buy storage units, but the bottom-line is, it has only amounted to a few hundred dollars loss. I know the market for buying storage units is very competitive with it coming to TV.
My best advise is to: sit back and wait, your unit is coming up!
Fun Facts: Here is a list of items that are only worth about half of what you think they are worth.
Sounds good! We do Dave Ramsey financial peace so Im very very patient 🙂 I have an eye for stuff my husband at first thought I was nutty but when he went a couple weeks with me not selling and saw how much I was bringing in selling on craigslist he jumped on board. We will be heading to our first storage auction tomorrow it should be interesting. We will probably just watch to see how it all works. I have to say I love the selling boxes idea I laughed today when I saw some in the dumpster behind Walgreen’s. I’m pissed about the storage wars thing and coupon thing on tlc I do both of those grrr.
When a storage facility is going to hold an auction for a storage unit in default, they must publish it and the information is free for everyone to review. It is is required by law for the storage facility to be able to auction someone’s unclaimed storage unit.
Does it feel like all this “storage auction” mumbo- jumbo is some sort of closely held secret? Well it’s not! The Storage Facility wants you to show up and buy a unit. The storage unit is going to the highest bidder. If that means selling it for two dollars or twenty thousand dollars, more people always means more money!
The number one question I receive – “Where do you find storage auctions?” It is simple really; the best way to find storage unit auctions is to search online or in the classified section of your local newspaper.
Please note: If you don’t find any storage auction listings, this usually means auctions are not currently scheduled in your area. But keep on the lookout because they may be scheduled soon. Still can’t find a Storage Auction? Then you may want to look to local shopper guides, or smaller local publications. The reason for this is, due higher publishing cost the Storage Unit Facility Owners will use smaller publications to save money. Remember some units will be sold for just five dollars, and even if they are sold for a few hundred dollars this will only cover a fraction of the lost rental dues, administrative cost so storage unit facility owners don’t want to spend too much money advertising auctions.
After buying a few storage units, your thoughts should start going towards expanding this little slice of heaven. Besides, who doesn’t want more of a good thing? I know I did, it happens to everyone. Most get that look in their eyes and the questions start coming!
But don’t forget this is not light work. After buying a few units, all you are thinking about is how much MORE money you can make and if I could only PURCHASE-MORE units! I talked to many people about larger scale buying in more storage units. As a matter of fact, after telling a friend of mine, it was less than a week until he started buying storage units on his own. It was interesting to watch, the different things he got out of the storage lockers versus what I got, and a birds eyes-view at what he sold many of his items for. It was really something to watch. Even though I dabbled out of curiosity while my friend was going full blast in front of my eyes, I was burned out. I was burned out on moving more than anything, even to this day I really-really hate moving. I moved most of the stuff by myself, even to this day I feel like I have been scared from the moving experience. But looking at all my friends stuff, it was almost to much to stand to see my friend making money doing something I somehow felt I had personally crafted, to some extent.
Fun fact – My friend sold on eBay and also stopped buying units too. I quit selling on eBay because of increased high fees and poor development direction I felt eBay was going. Even today as I look around eBay something is missing, the organic sellers that were the back bone of eBay have almost seemed to disappear. But my point was his feed back number is almost the same as mine. I think he sold online a little longer than I did. I stared looking at the overall-cost of dealing with eBay, labor, shipping, Paypal fees and it didn’t look good. I guess more than anything I was amazed how our paths seemed very close, silly thought…
Hiring people can be hard, this is why many team up. For one thing – when you buy one of these storage units you have no idea what is inside, so if you never see an item, how do you know if its missing?
There are many things that can be lifted, gold for example. I would say 90 out of 100 units I found some type of gold, even if it is just scrap or a gold chain, 10 -20 units it adds up fast! And again it is hard work, I guess I bring this up again because it is! You never know what you will be moving or cleaning up and that poses some interesting challenges. What do you pay for that? If you buy a unit for $100.00, after gas and moving, all said and done, if you make… let say $200-$300 bucks, it really doesn’t leave much room for payroll.
When I first heard about storage auctions was in the early 90’s. It wasn’t until the late 90’s when I decided to buy storage units and selling the items I won for profit. During my storage auction buying experience I would come a cross this subculture group of people who are small store owners, enthusiastic local garage yard sellers, flea market sellers, eBay sellers or just a casual buyer for personal gain. I have learned over the years that the competitors comes from all walks of life and sometimes will work in teams. For the most part, they are usually experience storage hunters looking for the best storages to sell for a high profit. Now that storage auctions has risen in an all time high of popularity due to being televised. It will be interesting to see the explosion of competition one will experience in buying storage units for a profit.
Everyone is in it for the money. For the first time buyer or the causal buyer be sure to study your crowd, get familiar with who’s around you to give you the optimal bidding experience.
Most people buying storage auctions have a good idea how to get rid of all the stuff, connections is key in getting top dollar for items.
I personally sold about 80% of everything I won, at garage sales and the flea markets, with eBay and Craigslist filling in the other 20%
*One thing to think about: There is a tricky cost in handling items. The more you move it, the more it cost you, everything adds to the bottom line. If I won a storage unit full of stuff, it was on the open market in a matter of hours.
I think buying storage units at auction is a great way for anyone looking to make some extra money. On my blog I tell you how to become a seasoned storage unit auction veteran, on your very first day!
You really don’t need much to get started buying storage units, if you have under thousand bucks and you are looking to invest in a short term venture that can double or even triple your money over night, buying storage units at auction might be for you. It’s fun, you will find some interesting stuff and it’s very profitable!
When a storage unit has been abandoned, the storage facility has no choice but to auction off all the contents of the unit to recoup costs.
Here are the basic steps to buying and making money off of an auction storage unit:
Find auctions for storage units in your local newspaper’s classifieds or other local publications. Storage facilities are required by law to publish public announcements of upcoming auctions and it’s absolutely free for you to attend the auction!
Arrive at the time the storage unit auction is set to take place. Sometimes it’s not a bad idea to call before you arrive to confirm the auction is still taking place. **The person that owns the storage unit up for auction, has up to the time of the auction to bring the current overdue balance.
The highest bidder will win the entire contents of the storage locker. (NO MATTER WHAT IS INSIDE) When you win it, you will lock it up and pay CASH.
You must pay cash at the auction. (sometimes on the spot.)
Most of the time – You will have about 24 hours to vacate the entire contents of the unit, unless another deal can be made with the storage manger. If you need more time to remove the contents most of the time this results in you renting the unit.
Make literally thousands of dollars off the contents of the unit! You may have just bought the contents of a millionaire’s home at a budget price.
Repeat the process… You can literally earn $5,000 – $10,000 per month buy buying these storage units at auction.
*if you want more information about buying storage units, you can surf my blog for more tips making money buying storage units.