It's the Little Lockers in Life

As the modern spiritualist Wayne Dyer proclaims, “when you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”

Hope Diamond

Too often, people are peeking around storage auctions looking for the Hope Diamond or mint-condition porcelain bird fountains, hoping they will stumble on them after spending exorbitant amounts of money on a hard-to-read unit.  If a real life storage hunter can simply ingest the classical discipline of always “buying low and selling high,” then all of the sudden, the random assortment of cleaning products, Nintendo 64's, and mint condition work boots will begin to take on a silver lining, both lucratively and personally.

Going Small for a Change

Often, when people attempt to make a full time profession of storage resale, they let themselves fall victim to a perfectionist standard, becoming too easily vulnerable to disappointment.  When you hit a small string of bad units (that you probably paid too much for to begin with) remember the auction goer in you who did this for the surprise factor primarily and hard profit secondarily.

A lot of times, it is the unknowable units acquired at $50 to $100 that bring us the most joy, as well as the best, proportionate Return on Investment.  Such units, for example, are designed to lend themselves to a great garage sale.  A picker needs to be quick in deciding which route he will go in his or her resale, but if it looks like one can double their investment easily on run of the mill commercial goods (brand new cleaning supplies, board games, mini fridges and the like) then a garage sale might be the best to collect a few dollars at a time and add them up quickly.  Wouldn’t it be nice to have a reputation as being the neighborhood merchant where all of your neighbors and friends can come to you before they go to the store for something they need or want?  This is about owning your identity as a picker, a modern treasure hunter, and making people around you interested in it too.

Think about it: the less you spend on your weekly unit, the less disappointment you will set yourself up for overall and the higher the chance you will have a higher R.O.I. ("return on investment") from just some, not all, of the contents.  It is rare that you absolutely need to blow your stack on a mint looking unit, which usually involves having some capital to play around with, something you can’t have unless you have another great job...or more to the point, have success flipping small units correctly first.

Start focusing the amount you put into a unit and how efficiently you can conduct a garage sale for the run of the mill things.  Start an EBay account for posting rare finds that are going to be worth shipping and waiting around for an internet buyer, or consider Craig’slist to cut out the factor of paying shipping costs out of pocket, further eating into your profits.

Otherwise, for the collective contents of two or three $50 units, I am a fan of the self-help garage sale because it opens up a live, 3-dimensional market to you, rather than an unpredictable flow of internet trafficers skimming over your listings.  I would reserve such avenues for items that are undoubtedly saleable at their fair market value.  If you have made a commitment to regular storage unit hunting, then registering for a table at your local swap meet is going to just increase your visibility that much more.  On the flip side, swap meets also create competition simultaneously, so the choice is up to you. Such is a choice made based on the rarity or intrigue of the merchandise you have on hand.  Ask yourself, "are people going to buy most if not all of this stuff today, considering there will be competition?"

The Beauty Within the Booty Within

circular saw blade

A final but crucial note on the perks of getting a small unit for a small investment: there is no storage auction bible that says you have to sell everything.  The beauty of finding a hodgepodge of goods and goodies is that they can inspire you to try new things, because hey, you just bought it.  Have you been interesting in building furniture and you just found a working condition table saw within the unit you just bought for seventy dollars?  The average table saw is going for around $100 in used condition, but if you have other means of making your money back on the unit you found it in, why not keep the valuable and call it an early Christmas present to yourself?

The same goes for mostly unused cleaning supplies, interesting but unsalable decoratives, used CD collections, or hey, maybe even the stray bicycle here or there that you can touch up and give to your niece for her birthday.  All modern treasures have the potential to enhance your life or open up hobbies or leisure for yourself.  In the case of the cleaning supplies and Barbie tricycle, however, they are always an investment still.  Why?

Think about it: how much money do you spend annually on brand new cleaning supplies at the store, or the endless demand on birthday gifts for everyone you know?  The answer is hundreds of dollars per year.  This business is secretly amazing for setting you up to be the coolest gift giver in your family, as well as honing much needed spend-thrift skills in a down economy that coupon cutting just isn’t cutting anymore.

Seasoned storage auction attendees who have been around since this was just an archaic industry know that it is never about beating anybody or finding a First Edition copy of a 1960’s Superman comic book in every locker.  Storage Wars and its lesser prototypes have made the trade all about fattening your wallet and nothing else.  There is a time and a place for that, but chasing money alone always has the propensity to eventually suck the fun out of something.


Sometimes its just fun to lose when it doesn’t matter all that much, but more importantly, learning to enjoy losing really means thinking about other ways you have won.


David Gross, Content Writer


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