Many auction hunters face criticism from do-gooders who assume that the storage auction industry is built on a pile of misfortune, cheats and lies. While nobody will deny that it’s sad when people fall on hard times and lose their belongings, the media sometimes likes to paint very ugly (and inaccurate) pictures of what storage auctions really are. The fact of the matter is that this industry is not as heartless as many seem to think…and in fact, it can even be very positive in local communities. But before we even get into that, here’s a little preface on what goes into a storage auction.
Aren’t Storage Facilities…EVIL?
Contrary to what you might believe, most storage facilities are NOT run by huge, evil, heartless corporations whose main goal is to steal your money. In fact, according to our storage expert friends at SpareFoot, “only about 10% of all U.S. storage facilities are owned by publicly traded real estate investment trusts, and the rest are small mom-and-pops or medium-sized operators”. So when a tenant defaults on a storage unit, this really hurts the facility owners, the everyday Americans who are trying to make a living as honestly as anybody else.
Most units are at very least a month or two behind on rent before they are auctioned off. The owner is contacted by certified mail, by phone, and sometimes even by email. After all attempts to contact the owner have been exhausted, a public notice is put in the newspaper to announce the auction. Even at this point, the tenant owner has up until the actual day of the auction to come forward and pay their rent.
And believe it or not, storage facilities do not want to auction your stuff off, either. Hiring an auctioneer is an extra expense, it takes time out of a busy day, and the facility is lucky if they even make back what the tenant owed. And guess what? If the facility happens to make extra money after the back rent and the auctioneer have both been paid, that money gets sent to the original tenant owner. Now, does that sound cruel and heartless to you?
How YOU Can Be a Compassionate Storage Hunter
With all of that being said, sifting through broken and abandoned lives left behind in storage lockers can still be very sad. However, at the end of the day, a business is still a business and you need to make money. But wait! There are ways to help yourself as well as your community, even in situations like this. Here are a few ways you can be a compassionate storage hunter. Trust me; you’ll score some major karma points!
All of that stuff in these defaulted storage units could have been destined for landfills, but now it’s being reused, recycled and upcycled by folks in your community. Less garbage makes for a much happier, cleaner, and safer planet for everybody. Doesn’t it make more sense to buy great secondhand goods and save them from the landfill? Often times, even unsalable garbage can be recycled at a local recycling center.
Help Your Community
By buying secondhand goods from local dealers, you’re keeping your money in your community and out of the pockets of greedy corporate fat cats across the country. What you don’t sell can be donated to thrift stores, homeless shelters, and other charitable organizations in your town. Not only are you helping yourself as a storage hunter, you’re helping your community thrive, and giving back to those who are less fortunate than you.
Give Back What You Can’t Sell
More times than not, you’ll find a lot of personal, sentimental items in storage units, such as photo albums, baby clothing, and family heirlooms. Since most of these things can’t be sold or given to your community, you can leave them with the storage facility who will try to contact the original owner, or you can use LostInStorage.com to try to reach the original owner yourself. Plus—this is another great way to keep all of this clutter out of landfills!
Hopefully these insights will make the naysayers think twice about our industry. Of course, there will always be someone who will complain just for the sake of complaining, but if you work hard and honestly, you can go to bed at night knowing that you made a difference, and you’re one awesome storage hunter!