Braving Bad Weather Storage Auctions

Did a little rain keep Captain Ahab from pursuing Moby Dick miles off shore?  What aboutNew England Patriots Columbus, De Gama, and Ponce De Leon?  Because no one else was willing to do it, sailing and overcoming miles of mysterious ocean eventually made them all quite famous (not to mention wealthy).  Want a modern day example?  How career defining was Adam Vinatieri’s 2001 AFC Division Game winning overtime field goal boot in a foot of snow?  Could anybody have done that?

Only the strong show up to play in inclement weather, and it can seriously work to your advantage, with a little bit of faith.  In the storage auction world, nothing deters newcomers and half-hearted hunters more than a little rain or snow.  Most people grimace, envisioning themselves loading and unloading in the rain.  We will explain why that is not necessary later on.

There’s nothing more exciting than throwing on the rain coat, stashing the umbrella, and heading out to a facility for some toe to toe bidding.  Inclement weather will reduce a bidding crowd by over half, and sometimes, at more obscure auction locations or times of day, to just a handful of people.

Meet and Greet the Elite, Sharpen Your Bid Tactics

Johnny Depp, Keira Knightley, Geoffrey Rush

Dreary day auctions can allow for some bidder cooperation, reminiscent of the old days of locker buying.  When an auction is closer to a 1 to 1 locker/person ratio, it means that almost every serious bidder in attendance can go after the locker that they want.  Knowing that others in attendance are just as serious as you are makes foul weather auctions a great opportunity to make some business connections.  Obviously, they are thinking along the same lines that you are: one step ahead of the resale game.  Cooperation in any enterprise is vital for morale.  If you can find the right partner, you can double your weekly inventory as well.

At best, even if you are not able to make a long lasting relationship at a rainy day auction, at least try to make friends so that you may have future support in a bidding crowd, to cooperate and stay out of each other's desired locker territory.

Conversely, if there are just no friends to be had, you can take the adventurous approach and sharpen your own tools.  In order to not go home empty handed after sticking your neck out in the rain, inclement weather auctions are also a great time to test out some bidding tricks that tend to work less effectively in larger crowds.

Test Driving your Bidding Repertoire


A. Jumping the bid

You really need to have an eagle eye for treasure appraisal before employing “bid jumping” because it usually works in small crowds.  Say you come up with $300 because you saw tons of sealed Rubbermaid containers, a jewelry case, and some good condition furniture.  When the current bid reaches $100, call out “300” and triple it.  Many novices expect bidding to continue in the increments an auctioneer chooses, but it is certainly within the rules to bid what you will at any time.

B. Talking the Unit Down

If you notice a hidden gem within a unit (see our blog on “Mystery Units”) that is surrounded by a lot of other clutter and garbage, it may be easy to convince a small crowd that the unit is not worth much.  Revitalize some of those high school play skills and act like a cocky pro who has no problem “giving their trade secrets away,” letting everyone know why a unit is garbage.  Focus on the garbage and give them a poorer perspective on a unit they may have otherwise found enticing.

When it comes to bidding, consider employing the "Mystery Unit Locker formula," and try it in combination with a “last minute bid” if the situation presents itself.  You could walk away with a solid unit for $50.

C. Bidding Up

Why people make this tactic out to be a mortal sin is beyond me.  Objectively stated, bidding others up means getting in a bidding war on a unit that you don’t intend to win in order to thin out the pockets of competitors, keeping them away from the unit you intend to take in the future.  I have two comments alone on this matter.  Firstly, the whole essence of being a strong auction bidder is never giving yourself away, no matter what your internal plan is.  Others should not know your intentions no matter what.  Secondly, a placed bid is official, so it’s not like “bidding people up” is not without substantial risk.

With the rains coming down, just a small gathering of hopefuls, and just a few lockers to go around, people expect there to be fierce competition.  So, ask the auctioneer how many units are there to come in the day and perhaps try a little bidding up early in the auction day and let the desperados duke it out.   If a unit is not worth $700, they should know better than to wager that.

Just make your increments small and never go more than 20 percent beyond your own appraisal, even when “bid stunting” like this.  After all, your bid could easily be the last.

Using Your 48 Clean Out Hours Wisely

Open ocean

Still down-pouring after you've sealed a locker?  After you have filed your paperwork with the facility, let them know you plan to come back for the contents when things have cleared up.  Of course you’ll be antsy to see what you won, so take the time to go view the boxes, bins, and blatant treasures so you can walk away from it for a day and formulate a game plan for selling the merchandise.  Don’t attempt to do your clean out while risking getting valuables wet, slipping and dropping boxes, and just being plain frustrated.

With more and more new treasure hunting hopefuls flocking to the auctions by the day, realize that an auction that may appear dangerous often legitimately proves to be the best outing of some people’s careers.  Use your voyage as an opportunity to make business connections with other adventurous types.  Or, do the opposite.  Take a stab at a craftier bidding approach.

Either way you brave it, chances are you will be walking home with a locker at a much more reasonable price if you just pull that raincoat a little tighter and sail onward.

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