Pen/Pencil and Notepad
From the moment the auctioneer breaks the lock and opens the unit, you should immediately begin writing down items of potential value. If you notice an item that you believe is of value, make a note of it on your notepad. You can even write an estimated dollar value next to the name. Doing so will give you a better idea of whether or not a unit is worth bidding on. You don’t need to any fancy stationary, as a basic notepad and pencil or pen will suffice.
Another essential item every storage unit hunter should bring to an auction is a calculator. Even if you can perform basic math on the spot, you’ll likely need a calculator when trying to determine an estimated value of some of the larger storage units.
Note: you can probably skip the calculator if your smartphone has one built in.
Don’t underestimate the importance of bringing a flashlight to the auction. Since most auctioneers explicitly prohibit people from entering the storage units, you must shine your flashlight into it from afar to better gauge its contents. Choose a small, handheld flashlight with a high lumen rating. You’ll be moving around quite a bit during the auction, which is why smaller flashlights are generally preferred over larger models.
Why do you need a padlock? Well, the auctioneer will cut off the previous owner’s lock, leaving the storage unit and its contents exposed. If you win an auction and don’t have a padlock on hand, you run the risk of having your newly acquired goods stolen. You can avoid such heartache, however, by placing a lock on the unit. If you’re ever in a bind and can’t seem to find a padlock, ask the auctioneer. In most cases, they will either have an extra one or know where you can find one.
Rummaging through storage units is dirty business, so make sure you bring a pair of heavy-duty gloves to the auction. Granted, some units are immaculately clean with little-to-no dust, dirt or debris, but others may contain rain-soaked boxes, old furniture, and other items that you probably want to avoid touching with your bare hands.
Last but not least, bring cash (and plenty of it) to the storage auction. Rookies often make the mistake of bringing credit cards, debit cards and/or checks. You’ll soon realize, though, that most storage unit facilities only accept cash from the winning bidder.