An Interview with John: an Educated Buyer

StorageUnitAuctionList.comHere at Storage Unit Auction List, we love talking to our subscribers. Any time we can chat with you and hear about your experiences in the industry, using our services, or anything else storage auction related…we pretty much jump on the opportunity. Trust me, we’re all ears. So when one of my coworkers here in the office passed on John’s contact information to me, I was very excited to have the chance to talk to him.

In the 3 years John has been in the storage auction business, he has gained plenty of experience, and was kind enough to share some of what he has learned. Most notably, John is actively working on raising awareness of storage lien laws in order to protect the storage unit buyers, and in fact, it’s a subject so important, we’ll be doing a separate exposé coming up featuring some of the information John was kind enough to share.

In the meantime, I was able to learn a lot of great advice and insights on the reality of storage auctions just by casually speaking with him. John is a retired general contractor of a construction company living in rural Washington state. He's definitely not a stranger to the resale business—when he’s not busy at home researching storage auction laws, he’s out on the field playing the storage auction game.

It’s safe to say that he has achieved the status of being a “regular” at the auctions he attends. For John, the regulars are pretty easy to spot out.

“I think when you go to enough of these auctions, you know who the educated buyers are.  There’s gonna be three or four that you see at every auction. They’re the guys doing the bidding. Then over on the other side, you got all the looky-loos going ‘woooow’! (laughs).”

John brings up a good point: being an educated buyer is very important. Not only should you have a good grasp on the laws that protect you and your rights as a buyer, you need to know how to bid, what to look for…and what you’re really going to get when you purchase your very first unit. While it’s definitely possible to find one-of-a-kind antiques in a storage locker, it’s not usually the case.

“What I find is that about 1 in 10 units you hit will have some pretty good stuff in it, as long as you’re careful about the stuff that you’re purchasing. I’ve found gold, silver, coins, antiques…stuff that has a good resale value.”

And of course, John goes on to say that having a good resale plan is indispensable:

“If you divvy that thing up right, sell a little on Craigslist, a little on eBay, have a dump run, and have a yard sale—and anything that doesn’t sell there you donate and write if off on taxes, so you’ve cleaned up on the full circle.”

Sure, profiting off of storage units seems easy enough, once you have a plan—but for a beginner, it’s vital to factor in your expenses. Sure, you might have made some money back on the actual unit, but you also must consider your time, your labor…and the cost of traveling.

“I live in a rural area, so there’s not a whole lot. I gotta drive about 100 miles to get in where there’s about 6-8 auctions per week. You just better figure couple hundred bucks in gas, at least—then you might need a hired guy to help you. So you know, it’s gonna take up a whole day—and you better get something. (laughs)”

Great advice from a pro! It takes a lot of time, experience, and research to become as confident in storage auction buying as John is, but it’s well worth the effort. In this industry, as with most, knowledge is the ultimate power that will set you apart from the regular buyers.

Stay tuned for more of John’s insights in our upcoming post of storage lien laws. It’s definitely a blog post that you won’t want to miss!


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