The History of Storage Unit Auctions

aStorageLockerAuctionI’ve had many ask why I get so into these auctions, and it’s simply because nothing else provides the real-time adrenaline I get from auctioning on the contents of a storage unit! I find it incredibly rewarding to win an auction only to find that what’s contained within the unit is worth far more than what I paid. I can almost always turn a profit, and a nice one at that. In addition, it’s just incredibly fun! A natural born salesman, I enjoy buying and selling items online and in person. It’s awesome to meet new people, make new connections and pursue this passion and hobby of mine. So upon reflection, it’s easy to ask myself, “Why don’t more people go to storage auctions?”

After a few minutes of digging, I stumbled upon what seemed to be a fairly simple answer – the idea of storage auctions is relatively new! In addition, the prospect of finding, calculating the worth of and selling items scared people. Curious, I continued to dig deeper, leading me to discover that the history of auction wars is both vast and interesting. So that’s what I wanted to talk about today – the history of storage unit auctions!

It’s crazy to think that just a few short years ago, storage unit auctions were almost completely unheard of. But the rise of hit TV shows, such as the incredibly well known Storage Wars, Auction Hunters and more, has added immensely to the popularity of these auctions. Let’s go back to the beginning (or to the beginning of Storage Units, at least) – the 1960s! Just 40 years ago, storage units didn’t exist. But the industry took off incredibly quick, becoming one of the fastest growing sectors of the U.S. commercial real estate industry over the last 35 years. The idea, after all, seemed like a no-brainer! Build a storage shed, charge people to store their stuff there (with little to no cost for lights, heating, etc.), and enjoy the money come in on payday!

While many thought this trend would settle down, more and more storage units were built, and more importantly, occupied. In fact, between the years of 2000 and 2005, more than 3,000 storage units were build each year! That means 15,000 storage units were build and occupied within just five years, and the number has only continued to rise since! By 2009, 58,000 storage units were built, most of which were completely populated by customer’s items. Today, 1 out of every 10 households use a storage unit to store items, including clothes, gadgets and more.

So how did these units become auctions? The owners of these storage units put limitations, like all real estate transactions, within their contracts. Tenants who were storing their items in a storage unit were required to pay a fee each month. It was agreed upon that if payment failure occurred x amount of times (depending on the company or owner), the items within the storage unit were then turned over and became property of the storage unit owner. Owners turned to auctioning or selling these units off “as is” to those who were willing to buy. It quickly caught on, and many found that it was a fun and enjoyable way to not only flip a profit, but also find interesting items that simply couldn’t be found elsewhere.

Like we discussed before, a few television producers caught on and created shows that followed the bidders on their adventures. A classic hit, these shows peaked the interests of million viewers, as well as storage unit owners, to create the high-paced storage auction world as we know it today!

So that’s it – the history of Storage Unit Auctions. I, for one, was unaware that this was relatively new. I was especially surprised at the fact that storage units weren’t even a popular thing until the 1960’s! Seems like a no-brainer to me! What exciting experiences do you have with storage unit auctions? Let us know in the comments!

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