If you’ve seen the A&E show Storage Wars, you’ve probably thought about how you can be a part of a storage auction yourself. With a little luck and patience, savvy buyers can make thousands of dollars by knowing what to look for. Having packed hundreds of storage units as a company, we know that these units can contain anything! Participating in an auction can be a great way to test your luck and hopefully make some money. Today’s blog will let you know how to find and participate in Boston-area storage auctions.
How to find an auction
There are a few websites which list auctions for free. Storage Auction Solutions is very organized, and lists upcoming auctions chronologically, which can make it easy to plan out. Storage Auctions USA lists auctions chronologically and has a regional selection, which is useful if you’re not opposed to driving to locations around New England or New York. There are some other sites which require membership, which may allow access to more exclusive auctions – but it’s probably best to test the waters with the free ones before getting committed to any kind of membership.
Doing a little research on the locations can help you to target your auctions. For example, if you look at storage facilities in Allston, there’s a good chance that you’ll see a lot of student-owned lockers; if you look in Lexington, there’s a good chance that you’ll find more household items. Think about what kind of items you would like to get, and try to determine where they would commonly be stored.
What to do if you win
On the show Storage Wars, you really never see the most important part of the process; making money! They simply say “this item is worth $100,” and it gets added to their total winnings. If only it were that easy! To turn your items into money, you first have to sift through everything and find what’s valuable. Then, the most important step, of course, is actually selling them to get your money.
Figuring out what’s valuable can be the toughest part. You can find just about anything in a storage locker, and the difference between a big money-maker and a total dud can be hard to determine. On Storage Wars, they usually find professionals in whatever field the item is in (going to a print-maker if you find printing equipment, or bringing a camera to a camera shop, for example). While this might not be the fastest way, it can be a good way to know for sure.
You can also try to do a little Internet sleuthing before bringing an item into a shop. Look for part numbers, brand information, and other revealing information directly on the items you are wondering about. Then, do an online search and see what kind of information you find. Keep in mind that you can’t trust everything you read online, but you might get some clues as to what you have and what its value might be.
To make money off of your purchases, you need to sell them somehow. Here are a few options.
• Amazon.com – You’d be surprised at how easy it is to set up a store through Amazon.com. Amazon is the biggest market for just about everything online. It’s a great place to sell jewelry, musical instruments, tools, books, movies, and much more. Be aware of the need to ship items, though – you don’t want to try to ship out large furniture or anything else that could be unwieldy.
• eBay – eBay has been a great place to sell goods online since 1995, when the Internet was still in its infancy. Registering as an eBay seller is easy, and can help you move your goods near and far without the need for a store front, just like Amazon. Also, like Amazon, you’ll need to consider the logistics of shipping items. Some things are simply easier to sell with a store front.
• Retail Shop – If you want to sell hard-to-ship items, such as furniture or fragile items, you might want to consider some sort of a thrift store. It gives you a place to showcase all your goods and bring people in to see what you’ve got. A little face time goes a long way these days, with many people still preferring a nice friendly place to shop versus shopping online.
• Craigslist – Craigslist is one of the most tried-and-true places to sell goods locally, with the help of the Internet. Moreover, it is great for items that you might not want to ship. You can sell furniture out of your garage with the help of Craigslist, or you can help drive business to a retail location if you list items as a dealer.
With today’s technology, it’s easy to cut some corners. There are several companies out there who provide free credit/debit processing hardware. (See Square, Intuit GoPayment, or PaymentMax, to name a few). Accepting credit or debit cards will expand your customer base by a whole lot, and with these mobile solutions, you can accept payment from just about anywhere.
Of course, you have to set realistic expectations if you choose to try a storage auction. A large portion of any locker is going to be junk with little to no value. Your most frequently used tool is probably going to be a dumpster. Even still, with a little luck and patience, you can make serious cash if you buy the right locker.