What to Bring to a Self-Storage Auction and Why

Photo: David365

If you want to bid on and win a unit at a self-storage auction like the stars of Storage Wars, you can’t just show up—you need to come prepared. Here’s what you’ll need.

-Cash. Bring as much cash as you’re willing to spend. Many facilities require that you pay for your winnings in cash immediately after the auction ends. Factor into your budget sales tax and possibly a clean-out deposit (the latter will be refunded as long as you take all of the contents with you).

-Photo ID. some auctions require all attendees to register and present identification before they are allowed to bid.

-A strong flashlight. You can’t enter the unit, so you’ll need to improve your ability to see all the way into it while standing outside.

-A smartphone. If you spot something you think might be valuable before the bidding begins, some quick
online research can help you determine whether to bid or pass.

-A large truck/van/SUV. You’ll usually have only 24 hours to remove the contents of the storage unit you win, so come prepared for moving. Even if you end up with a locker full of trash, you’ll have to haul it away to dispose of it—you can’t use the storage facility’s dumpsters. If you need more time, you may be able to negotiate with the storage facility or even lease the unit. Of course, a fee to lease the unit will cut into your profit margin.

-Padlocks. The owner’s lock must be cut off in order for the contents to be viewed and auctioned off. If you win, you’ll need a way to secure your new locker while you participate in the rest of the day’s auctions or at least until you can get your vehicle pulled up to the unit.

-Gloves. Gloves aren't required, but when you're pawing through someone else's stuff, you never know what you're going to find or how clean it's going to be. Gloves can help prevent the ick factor; they can also protect your hands when moving rough, sharp, or heavy objects.

For more on storage auctions, see my earlier post, How to Find Public Self-Storage Auctions.

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