I love a treasure hunt. Do you like treasure hunting? How about “grab bags” with a mystery prize inside? Wouldn't it be great to get a 10 foot by 10 foot grab bag? This is the fun part of this business. You never know what you will find. It might be something you have been searching for at a rummage sale and auctions for years.
Note: Some links in this post are affiliate links, which means I receive a commission if you make a purchase. Affiliate relationships include, but are not limited to Amazon Associates, Walmart.com, and Etsy.
Preparing to Buy a Unit
Let’s ask some personal questions here. Do you get queasy looking at other people’s dirty clothing, or their garbage? Does the smell of stale cigarette smoke, human sweat, cheap cologne/perfume, or rotten food make you sick? If that is the case, you will have to learn to get tough and make yourself like steel so you can get through this.
Sadly, not everyone stores their items in a clean and organized way. Even when a unit looks like it has been moved by a moving company and looks very organized, labeled, etc., you will still find these things. Moving companies have it in their policy to move everything. They will pack the garbage and the contents of the refrigerator, so when you open the Tupperware you know you can resell on eBay or Amazon, you may find rotten food.
It does comfort us to know that we should not find lice or fleas, and we haven’t. Usually, at least in our area, the storage unit company has given their client plenty of time to pay, months or years, before they put the unit up for auction. That is too long for lice or fleas to survive. However, the owners of storage unit companies are human.
Humans have been known to make mistakes. A friend of ours who also purchases units told us of a time that he purchased a unit and started selling off the contents when he received a phone call from the storage unit company that the sale had been a mistake, they sold the wrong person’s stuff.
In that extremely rare case, you might find lice or fleas! In that situation, the unit purchaser was paid back the amount he paid for the unit and he was able to keep the funds from the items he already did sell. He chose to give the owners the rest of the items, which he had already done the work to move to his town. Every business has problems. Thankfully, we have never had that happen.
Realize that you may find items that are mature in nature. Have a plan for swiftly dealing with these items, especially if you have children with you. We purchase latex gloves to wear when going through units because you just never know what you will find.
Can you handle it emotionally? You will accidentally find out about the previous owner's lifestyle: their problems and successful experiences. You may find out that a man died due to health and he was alone and had no family to claim his stuff.
Let’s say you feel like you could steel yourself to deal with the above mentioned items. That's great because the other side of this can be very promising. The positive out of these “bad situations” is that the people who cannot claim their units may leave very valuable items behind. Some items have been in their family for years, some are piggy banks, old purses or fire safe locked boxes with cash you can take right to the bank!
Learn all about the abandoned storage auction resale business in our book.
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