Chapter 3: Choosing Your Locker
By now you have figured out what type of buyer you are and which auctions are worth attending. But now things get even trickier. These next few sections can be where a great deal of money can be made or lost. Most storage auctions only give you a few minutes to look at a locker, and there can be a lot of other people jostling for a view. If you know ahead of time what you’re looking for, you will be able to quickly assess whether a locker is for you or not. Remember, don’t go off of how other people are bidding. It could be that they don’t see the forgotten riches that you see. Or it could be that they see a profit but for you the locker is an expensive headache. Each locker and unit will have to be assessed on it’s own merit for you, not for it’s merit to someone else.
But how do you know which locker is right for you?
First, everyone, regardless of the type of buyer they are, should follow some simple rules and tips:
- Always bring a flashlight. These lockers are often dark and can be packed full making it hard to see what’s actually in there.
- Have an IPhone or other mobile device that can access the Internet handy. This will help if you need to do on the spot research about what an item might be worth. For more information on this, go to the Tips, Scams, and Other Information You Should Know chapter.
- Keep your opinions to yourself. If your competition knows how you feel about a locker, you’ve lost any advantage all your preparation has given you. Some people will want to chat you up, to get a feel for whether your interested in a unit or not. You should try to stay friendly and polite, but do your best not to reveal your end game. After the auction is over is a good time to talk to your fellow storage auction junkies. You can learn a lot from each other, but do it after the auction has ended.
- Notice who is around and who seems interested in the units. While you need to decide independently whether a unit is for you or not, you could get a tip-off from your fellow bidders. If you’re a treasure hunter for example, and all the store owners are buzzing around the locker, maybe think of sitting that locker out. It may hold a treasure, but it might cost you too much to find out.
- Don’t be afraid to make phone calls to try and get answers from outside help. If you see some construction tools and what to know if you’ll be able to resell them easily, call your contact and get some answers.These are good tips for everyone to follow. Now let’s look at each buyer and see what lockers have your forgotten riches!
You want a unit that has the promise of something valuable in it. Looking for the clues that will tell you what kind of person owned the locker will help you figure out whether you should be bidding on it.
What to look for:
- Well packed units. If someone has taken the time to carefullypack and protect an item, there’s usually a reason. When an item is valuable most people will take the time to carefully wrap and protect it.
- Locked containers. Again, the added protection is the clue here. Safes, bins, cabinets, and boxes are places where people might hide valuable items.
- Any item that is pricey. Maybe you don’t want or need a high end lamp. But chances are that if there’s one expensive item, even if it is one you don’t want, there might be more.
- Older items. The old suitcase may not be a valuable antique, but it could signal other items of a similar age. Make sure the unit still looks well cared for. A broken Tiffany vase is not going to do you any good.
- Art items. Most artists are also art collectors. The former owner of this locker may not have been a Picasso, but they might have owned one!
- Items that grab your interest and attention. As a Treasure Hunter, you already have a good eye for collectibles and antiques. Trust your gut instincts. If you feel that there’s something you like about the unit, you might be picking up on signals that this locker has something good.
- Units that look like they were owned by older people. Older people often have the money, resources, and time to have collected and owned valuable items. Again, look at the quality of the items you can see as a hint for what you can expect.Don’t be put off by a locker that isn’t perfectly neat and tidy. You need one great item, not a unit full of decent items.
What to Avoid:
The biggest mistake you can make is ending up with a unit that’s full of items you can’t transport or store, and having paid a lot for them! Follow these tips to avoid that pitfall.
- Packed units. If a locker is full, it probably isn’t for you. You’re going to have to unload all those items and there will definitely be other interested parties bidding up the price. If you do see something of interest though, keep calm and watch the bids. There could still be room for you to make a profit.
- Household units. While an entire room or house of furniture and goods may turn a profit, it’s not likely that you will find what you’re looking for at the price you want. Again, check the quality of what you can see and keep an eye on the bidding. If you know you’re in a neighbourhood that is likely to attract collectors and wealth, it might be worth the gamble if the unit does not go for too high a price.
- Low quality items. If the unit looks like a college dorm or a garbage heap, keep your wallet in your pocket. This one’s not for you.
- Family units. Kid toys and clothing should set off warning bells. You’re more likely to find a box of Pampers than a rare baseball card.Reseller
While a hidden treasure would be great, you can’t afford to gamble on a unit for one item. You need good quality items that you can turn a profit on quickly. It’s all about the dollar for you. Walking away with a unit where you can’t sell most of the items is what you need to avoid. Here’s our tips to finding good quality units that you can turn a profit on and get to your forgotten riches!
What to look for:
- Nicely boxed units. If the owners have taken the time to carefully pack everything, then you know nothing has been damaged in the storage process.
- Good condition, good quality. There’s no point wasting your time on broken items. Look for units that have items that have been well kept and that are of good quality.
- Easy to store and ship items. Since you don’t own a store, you need to make sure you can get your unit home, store the items, and ship them if selling on eBay or other sites. By keeping to units that contain items you can easily move and store, you’re staying ahead of the game.
- Well stocked lockers. A high quantity locker is ideal. Just make sure the items look like they’re worth some money. There’s no point in wasting your hard earned cash on items you won’t be able to easily flip.
- Easy to view lockers. Can you see everything that’s in the unit? Great! That means you can quickly tell what everything will sell for and give you a bidding limit.Remember, one item can be turned for a profit if the unit is bought low enough. Is there a good couch you know you can sell for $200 but the rest is junk? You might be the only bidder but if you pay $20 for the unit you just made ten times the profit. Not bad for a single unit! The key to success when picking your units will be in quickly assessing the value of what you see and knowing your top line.
What to avoid:
You don’t want to get saddled with items you can’t turn over for a profit or that will take a long time to sell. Follow these tips to avoid that.
• Large item units. You don’t have the ability to move, store, and ship an industrial kitchen, even if it is ready-to-go. Don’t get bogged down with items you won’t be able to easily unload.
- Poor quality items. If what you can see in the locker looks beat up, used, and dirty, then don’t waste your time and money. It won’t be worth the odd dollar you might be able to make of an item if you have to take the time and resources to fix it up. Stick to what you know you can make money on.
- A gamble unit. These units are the ones that get your curiosity going. If you find yourself wondering what buried treasures could be lurking under the tarp, or in the cabinet, etc, take a step back. It doesn’t mean you need to walk away. You do need to reassess. Are there other items in the locker you can make money on to possibly protect against a loss? How crazy are the bids getting? Could you get the unit for a deal? If the possible losses aren’t too bad, you could give it a whirl. Remember though, this is a business for you. You need to walk away with a profit
- Garbage units: Looks like a trash heap. Smells like a trash heap. It’s a trash heap. Walk away.Store Owner
For you, winning at the storage locker game is about getting your shelves stocked at a price you can turn a profit on. You have the ability to move a large amount of items and store them. If you end up with twenty items you can turn for a profit of $2 a piece, it’s worth your money. Putting some extra time into an item (repainting, fixing a broken leg) is worth it for you. You know what sells well in your store. Sticking to units that have the type of items which fly off your shelves is your key to forgotten riches. It is vital that you do not overspend. Respect your top line so you don’t go into cost overrun before you’ve even moved the items into your store.
What to look for:
• Lots of items. The more inventory you can collect out of a unit,
the better your cost spending ratios will be. Make sure that you
are still looking at the quality of the items. Garbage is never worth a cent.
- Family units. See lots of kiddie toys poking out of boxes? You know that children items are sure thing when looking for store inventory.
- Household in a unit. If it looks like someone moved their entire house into the locker, bid! Even if the quality is on the lower end, the sheer volume of items will be worth it. This is when you have a leg up over your competition. For them it might not be worth it to try and sell Tupperware for a dollar profit. For you, it’s money in your pocket.
- Good quality units. It’s hard to go wrong with a unit that has good quality items in it. If you see expensive items, don’t be afraid to bid. Keep an eye on the price though and don’t get carried away.
- Large items unit. If a unit contains large, heavy but good valued items such as tools, industrial machinery etc, you should consider bidding. Your average customer might not buy it, but you have the space to store it and showcase it. Since most people don’t, this gives you the edge and the ability to pay a bit more for the unit.What to avoid:
Finding inventory to stock your shelves is what you go to storage locker auctions for. You’re running a business and need to keep your eye on the prize: inventory at a reasonable price. The last thing you want is to end up with is a unit you can’t sell.
• Gamble units. While they may be tempting, you need to avoid the risk of losing your cash that is supposed to go to stocking your shelves. If there’s an unknown item such as a safe or antique looking piece of furniture, factor that into the overall price of the unit, but don’t let it be the sole reason you bid.
- Garbage units. You might be able to find something salvageable out of a garbage unit that you can turn a small profit on. Keep in mind though that that’s money and time that should be spent buying inventory for your store.
- One great item units. Yes, that is a Chippendale chair! You can see that and so can everyone else. That means a high dollar for the unit. If the other items in the unit aren’t worth trying to sell, you are at a disadvantage. You’re better off saving your money for units where you have the upper hand. However, remember that other people might not see value in the other items, but you know they sell at your store. That means what you can spend on the unit just went up, giving you the upper hand.
- Unknown units. Is everything packed away in unmarked, miscellaneous boxes? While this might not seem like a gamble unit, you’re better off waiting till you find a locker where you can see what you’re getting and therefore know what to spend.So now you know what kind of locker you are looking for! Let’s move on to how you go about winning that locker!
Grab yourself an
with 4G so you can look up locations of storage lockers with the Maps App, and appraise items you see in lockers to get a value before you bid!