Category Archives: My Blog

Baggage Battles – Unclaimed Baggage Auctions

Baggage Battles is a new new reality television show about the relatively unknown business of unclaimed baggage auctions. Have you or has someone you know ever lost a bag at the airport? Do you want to know what eventually happened to it? Millions of bags are lost every year at airports around the world. Typically, if a bag is not claimed within 6 months, it is moved to another location and sold at public auction.

Baggage Battles premiers on the Travel Chanel on April 11th, 2012 at 10:00 PM ET/PT with back to back episodes taped in Miami and London. You might even recognize a couple of the cast members on this new show. Laurence and Sally Martin, the antique store owners seen helping Barry & Darrell on Storage Wars, will be two of the 4 main participants on the show. They have owned Studio Antiques in El Segundo, California for over 20 years. Other cast members include Billy Leroy, who owns Billy’s Antiques and Props, in New York City and Mark Meyer, who is a young entrepreneur and owner of the Nifty Thrifty store in Long Island.

Baggage Battles explores the lucrative business of bidding, buying and reselling unclaimed baggage. This special niche requires them to attend multiple auctions and buy hundreds of bags. When they’re bidding on these bags, they have no idea what’s inside. They have to rely on their instincts to determine which bags may be profitable and which bags most likely contain worthless clothing or junk. They don’t know if they hit the jackpot until they win they win the bid and open the suitcase.

When Storage Wars and Auction Hunters first premiered, people who saw the shows flocked to storage auctions across the country. These shows created a modern day “gold rush”. This increase in buyers caused the bids on storage units to reach record levels because people thought that every unit contained hidden treasures like the ones seen on the shows. I think it will be interesting to see if Baggage Battles will have the same effect on the baggage auction business as Storage Wars and Auction Hunters had on the storage auction business. Either way, this should a great niche for auction goers, entrepreneurs and web developers.

The Top 10 Mistakes Newcomers Make At Storage Unit Auctions

Overpaying Just To Get A Unit

If you’re new to the storage auction scene, don’t be in any rush to get your first unit. You have to wait for the right unit to come along at the right price. It will happen. I know you’re eager to get your feet wet but the object of the game is to make money. Just be patient and you will find a bargain.

Buying A Unit That Is Too Large For Them To Remove The Contents Within 48 Hours

When you buy a storage unit at auction, you have to have it totally cleaned out and broom swept within 48 hours. A lot of newcomers will purchase a large unit not realizing how much work it is to clean out. Keep in mind that some units contain heavy items like furniture and appliances that require some muscle to move them. It is a good idea to have a truck and labor lined up in advance especially if you plan to buy multiple units every week.

Getting Your Ego Involved

When you’re bidding on a unit, try to keep your emotions in check. Some people who are new in the business are trying to make a name for themselves from the beginning by getting into a bidding war or trying to run others up. If you’re going to be a successful buyer, you must know when to let the unit go. If it doesn’t make sense, don’t buy it. Some new buyers even overbid to let others know that they have money. This isn’t a good idea because no matter how much money you have, there will always be someone else with deeper pockets. I personally know a multi-millionaire that attends storage auctions just for fun.

Bidding On The Hope That There Will Be Something Valuable Hidden In The Unit.

This is a common mistake newcomers make. They’ve seen the storage auction reality shows and they think there is an expensive antique hidden in every unit. Well, I have news for them. Most units contain common household items, appliances and furniture. If they pay hundreds or thousands more for a unit on the hope that the unit contains hidden treasure, they won’t be in this business for long.

Not Having An Exit Strategy

Some new buyers buy a unit without having a plan to sell the contents. Possible outlets are garage sales, setting up a booth at a flea market or selling the items online. Either way, it’s a lot of work. The key to making a profit in this business is turning over your inventory as soon as you can. Unless you have an unlimited supply of cash, you will need get your money back quickly so you can reinvest it in more storage units.

Not Bringing Enough Cash

If you have a good amount of cash, by all means bring it. Nothing hurts worse than missing out on a great unit because you didn’t bring enough money with you. Remember, most auctioneers will not allow you to go to the ATM after the auction is over so if you don’t have enough cash in your pocket, do not bid on the unit.

Buying Junk Units

Buying a junk unit can put a bad taste in your mouth for the storage auction business. If the unit looks like it contains a lot of trash or worthless items, it is a good idea to avoid it. It takes a lot of time and energy to clean out a unit, especially ones that are unorganized and contain a lot of trash. Focus on units that are fairly organized and show signs of quality merchandise.

Not Cleaning Out The Contents Of The Unit Entirely

Some newcomers buy a unit that they are unprepared to move. They start their excavation only to realize that the unit isn’t what they thought is was. If the unit contains a lot of unsellable items and trash, you might feel like giving up and just leaving the bad stuff behind. This is one of the easiest ways of getting banned from future auctions. Even if the unit turns out to be a complete bust, you have to dispose of it properly. The contents of the unit must be completely removed and the unit needs to be broom swept. Most storage facilities will not allow you to use their dumpsters so I recommend that you locate a dump in your area. Believe me when I say you will need it.

Not Bringing Necessary Supplies

I see a lot of newcomers who don’t even have a flashlight with them. Most storage units do not have lights in them and it can be quite difficult to see the contents. If you don’t already have one, make sure you invest in a rechargeable flashlight. The other essential is having multiple padlocks on your person. At my buying peak, I usually kept at least three locks on my belt loop and another 7-10 locks in my vehicle. Tip: Buy padlocks that are keyed the same or color code your locks and keys. Nothing is more frustrating than trying to locate the right key for the lock while the auctioneer is moving on to the next unit.

Stereotyping An Auction

Some people try to profile an auction based upon the area that the storage facility is located in. Let me start off by saying that some of the best units I have ever bought were in rough neighborhoods and I got the units dirt cheap. If you only attend auctions in nice areas areas, you will be missing out on some great bargains.

Do you know of any other common mistakes newcomers make at storage auctions? If you would like to add them to this list, please leave your interesting and creative responses in the comments section below.

Storage Auction Trash – How To Dispose Of It

Some of the units you buy are going to contain trash and items that are difficult to sell. In such a case, how do you get rid of these items without aggravating the garbage man? Well, let me start off by reminding you that one persons trash is another persons treasure. Believe it or not, I made as much money selling the small, almost worthless items as I did selling the nicer stuff. Obviously if the merchandise is broken or literally trash, just get rid of it, but, you might be surprised what actually sells at garage sales & flea markets. I recommend running these insignificant items through a few sales before you let them go. The key to being successful in this business is maximizing your profit on every unit you buy and making a few extra bucks here and there can really help your bottom line.

If you have several bags of trash, you can probably just set them on the curb for trash pick up without any issues. If you have truck loads of trash or larger items that the trash man will not pick up, you may have to make a trip to the dump. The average dump fee is around $35 per truck load and if you are making several trips per month, it can really add up. I personally have never paid a dump fee because I always found creative ways to get rid of the things I didn’t want.

In most areas, there are charity thrift stores that accept donations. Donating to these places can be a great option because they typically give you a tax deduction and you are helping less fortunate people obtain the things that they need at a lower cost. Not only that, the items that you donate get a second life and avoid the landfill, which is good for the environment. Some local resale shops accept donations as well.

Some areas have local donation drop boxes. Although the drop boxes may be more convenient, you don’t get a tax deductions when you donate items there. Of course, you cannot leave actual trash at these locations but you can leave items that the nicer thrift stores may not want. Donation drop boxes don’t refuse anything and you can leave things there 24 hours a day. And believe me, being able to get rid of things anytime you need to will surely come in handy.

Here is a little trick from my personal arsenal of creative ways to get rid of things you don’t want. When I was buying full time, we were filling up two twenty six foot U-Haul trucks worth of merchandise every week. On average, I refilled one half of a twenty six foot U-Haul truck with left over merchandise, after our garage sale every week. I would separate the nicer things that I wanted to keep from the other miscellaneous items, then I would place an advertisement on Craigslist under the free section. For those of you who have never done this, I would like you to know that there are scores of people who watch these ads all day long and they are eager to pick up anything that is free. Just place an ad that says “Tons of free stuff – on curb now” and include your address. Twenty to thirty minutes later you will have several people there hauling the stuff off. Remember, one persons trash is another persons treasure and these people know this better than anyone else. The only draw back to this method is that they can leave you with a mess.

I got so frustrated with the messiness that I decided to change my strategy a bit. I still placed an ad in the free section of Craigslist, except I was more specific in what I expected from them. First of all, I didn’t include an address in the ad because I wanted to select one person and a few runners up in case the first person didn’t show up. I put in the ad that I would only give the merchandise to someone who owned a large trailer, someone who had a few other people to help them move the stuff and someone who was willing to take everything, the good and the bad. The reason that I insisted that they own a large trailer is that I didn’t want them to have to make two trips to haul off the stuff. If you allow them to make two trips, they will haul off all of the good stuff and never come back for the rest.

After I had been doing this for a while, I met a couple that owned a thrift store and they were willing to pick up the merchandise every Saturday, after my garage sale was over with. This was a great situation for them because they got free inventory for their store and a great situation for me because I got someone else haul off the things I didn’t want, including the actual trash.

Welcome To Storage Auction Blog

Hello & welcome to Storage Auction Blog, America’s best source for storage auction information & news. Whether you’re new to the storage auction business or whether you’re a seasoned pro, Storage Auction Blog has something for you.

Right off the bat, I’m going to let you know that you won’t read an article on this website that prompts you to buy anything. You won’t find any get rich quick schemes here either, that’s not what we’re about. We are here to provide quality articles, news & opinions and to objectively educate people on the storage auction business. With our free “Storage Auctions 101” guide, we will walk you through all aspects of the storage auction buying process.

This blog is your blog too. I encourage you to interact in the discussions and add your opinion. I will be glad to publish your articles, questions, comments, suggestions & even your rants & raves, pertaining to our industry. We can all learn something from each other and it is my goal to make this blog a valuable tool for storage auction buyers, auctioneers & storage facilities from every part of the country. Check back with us frequently because new content is added daily.

Moving Tips For Storage Auction Buyers

Before you purchase a storage unit at auction, you should examine the contents and ask yourself “How am I going to move this?” Most storage facilities and auctioneers require the contents of the unit to be moved out within 48 hours of purchase. Some storage units contain heavy items like furniture, appliances, & large boxes. This being said, it is a good idea to have a plan to move the contents of your next purchase. Let’s take a look at your options.

When I first started in the storage auction business, I moved everything myself. After spending 40-50 hours a week at the auctions, marketing the items I had for sale online and having to load and unload everything by myself, I was overwhelmed. It didn’t take long to realize that the heavy lifting, sometimes in extreme temperatures, wasn’t for me.

I began hiring 3-4 workers every Friday and Saturday to lighten my burden.  Now, that doesn’t mean that I wasn’t there working, I just decided make better use of my time. I would be inside the unit looking for unique and valuable items and assessing what I had purchased. After I had looked through each box, my crew would load it onto the truck. We worked at a very fast pace and it became a fairly efficient process for moving 5-9 units in a single day.

The advantage to buying several storage units per week is that if you buy a unit or two that aren’t profitable, it tends to even out in the wash. Now, there is a draw back to buying several units per week; You have to shell out a ton of cash to pay your labor and moving expenses. On average, I was paying around a thousand dollars a week to rent two twenty six foot U-Haul trucks, rent a commercial location to have my garage sale and to pay 3-4 workers on Friday & Saturday.

Although I never had the chance to find out, I often wondered if purchasing on such a large scale was all in vain. If I had only focused on 1-2 quality storage units per week and moved everything myself, I probably could have made the same amount of money. But, hindsight is 20/20.

If you don’t own a truck & trailer or a box truck, you may want to consider renting a U-Haul truck to move the storage units that you purchase. I’m just going to be blunt, U-Haul is the cheapest of all the truck rental companies and the rates don’t fluctuate often. At first, I used Penske truck rental; However, I noticed that their rates fluctuated by the day. One week, it might cost me $60 dollars per truck and the following week it would be well over $100. With U-Haul, I knew what to expect. Each twenty six foot truck cost me $39.99 per day plus mileage. U-Haul even offers a special that includes two days and 100 miles for around $120 per truck. Since I used the trucks on Friday and Saturday and usually used between 60-100 miles, this plan was the most economical.

Here are some tips if you plan to rent a U-Haul truck: Always ask for a newer model truck. U-Haul has some excellent GMC trucks with lots of power and a comfortable interior. These trucks are also much more fuel efficient. If you don’t specifically ask for a newer truck when making the reservation, they will stick you in older truck, with high mileage, low fuel efficiency and the ride will be rough. The quality of the ride makes a huge difference when you are moving nice furniture or breakables.

Always inspect the truck before you leave the facility. Make sure you check the mileage and gas level and compare them to the levels on your contract. If there is a discrepancy, notify the manager immediately. Make sure to inspect the truck for damage. Mark down every scratch and dent. Just a tiny scrape could cost you hundreds of dollars if you don’t notify them before you leave. Finally, go to the back of the truck. If there is a dolly, check to see if the seal is broken. If the seal is broken, have the attendant place a new tag on it. Otherwise, they will assume that you used the dolly and charge you a $7 fee.  Also, be aware that these trucks get 10 miles per gallon at best and the fuel & mileage costs can really add up quickly.

If you would prefer to buy a box truck, there are plenty available at a reasonable price. On the low end, you could get an 80′s model, 26 foot moving truck for around $3500. If you would prefer something a little more reliable, you can find some pretty nice moving trucks in the $7,500 -$15,000 range. You can contact the truck rental companies directly to find out how to purchased retired vehicles from their fleet. Another valuable resource is www.commercialtrucktrader.com

Here are some of the things you will need for your move. Moving blankets, boxes or plastic storage containers, packing tape, rope, latex gloves, dolly, tie down straps, a wide push broom, dustpan, drinks, large contractor trash bags & I even bring a set of bolt cutters just in case I have to cut a lock.

Most auctioneers will specify that the unit is to be completely emptied out and broom swept. They will also tell you that you are not permitted to use the storage facility’s dumpster to dispose of the trash. My final advise is to always leave the storage unit clean. Failure to do so could get you banned from attending auctions conducted by the same auctioneer or storage company. I hope this article was helpful.