You’ve likely heard of at least one of the recently popularized reality shows like Storage Wars that are centered on the business of purchasing repossessed storage units and then reselling the treasures inside for a hefty profit.
Here at Moving Insider, we have a fondness of everything related to moving and storage. But, we felt less than convinced of the real chances of finding valuable hoards within everyday storage lockers after finding an abundance of credibility-stripping articles like this one and this one.
So, we contacted a local veteran to see what his thoughts were on the whole industry.
Gary M. has been in the storage auction business for two years, pursuing this profession as a full-time job. After he purchases a storage unit, he takes the items that are worth keeping to a warehouse that he operates himself. From there, he resells the previously owned items on sites like Craigslist and E-Bay. Gary was kindly willing to answer some of our in-depth questions about the industry.
MI: Do you think reality TV shows about storage auctions are a realistic depiction of your job?
GM: No. In fact, there have even been lawsuits like this one which suggest that these shows should all be taken with a grain of salt. It’s often very inaccurate.
MI: How hard is it really for someone who has no experience to get into the auction business and be successful?
GM: It takes a lot of time, skill, and practice. The more storage units you purchase and resell, the better idea you’ll have when purchasing future units. My words of wisdom for all beginners are only bid on what you can see. Newcomers tend to think there’s gold tucked into the pockets of every pair of jeans. Usually, what you see is what you get. It takes about five years to get a good idea of the worth of common things you will find in the lockers and that can be risky to do full-time, because you can’t count on a steady paycheck.
MI: What can someone expect when they are considering breaking into the business?
GM: My first three lockers were complete junk. I filled up a huge dumpster that I had to pay to rent. I also lost $2,400 before- my biggest loss. I kept with it because I thought it had potential. You want to remember that the goal is always to double what you paid for the locker, and not just break even.
After learning all that we did from Gary, we decided it was time for us to try it out for ourselves. We hit the storage auction circuit in sunny Phoenix, Arizona, to see what all the commotion was about. Over the next few weeks, we’ll share what we found when we won a locker of our very own, and how we made out in the end.
Check out the next posts in the series where we experience the bidding “action”, and going through the actual unit!
What are your thoughts on storage auction reality shows? Have you ever attended an auction?
Note: All names have been changed to protect privacy.