The town I live in here in Florida was incorporated in 1999. The community is extremely young in its development. When it was first started, plotted and planned, it was designed to be a retirement community.
Single story buildings, with easy access stores and a type of quaintness someone retiring away from the Big City life would enjoy. The building process started in earnest and then proceeded into a frenzy and suddenly this town was the “fastest growing city in the USA”!!!! Builders, contractors, roofers, electricians and plumbers descended in droves and they moved into the homes that they were building for the retirees. These workers had children and schools needed to be built and then soccer fields and then a Walmart and then a bigger Walmart and suddenly….there were traffic jams and a police presence and break ins and anger at a mayor and well…my town I live in here in Florida became just like “Up North”.
But, along the way, all those builder bees and retirees sold all their GOOD stuff when they moved South! They wanted to start fresh with hot climate furnishings and décor. Consequently, this phenomenon resulted in just a few Self Storage Garages in our town. Over the years, a few more have popped up, but for the most part, they are not a big business!!!
I decided on a dull Tuesday to use Storage Unit Auction List to find any auctions that might be scheduled. I was even willing to drive just to see what I could discover in an abandoned storage unit. I was shocked to find that the Largest Self Storage business here in town was having an auction of 29 units!!! Today!!!! This dull Tuesday that I had chosen to investigate!!! The stars were aligned in my favor!!!! What a coup!!!!!!! So I gathered my money, license and good walking shoes and off I went!!!
The auction was scheduled for 10am but didn’t really start until 11am. About 50 people had gathered and most seemed to know each other. They talked weather and previous sales and the gossip they had heard about this sale. Finally, the auctioneer appeared with his little horn and he broke the lock on the first unit and we all trailed by taking a look at disheveled boxes and kids toys.
The next 2 units were also opened and our line continued until all of us had our 5 seconds of examination and then bidding began. There was a low rumble amongst the bidders and when the auctioneer finally got to the third unit in this building, the bidding took off!!! It started at $100 and grew at a feverish pace until the final call was at $1200!! Everyone looked down at their feet and the winning bidder was all smiles. I finally asked a non-bidder standing near me what had just happened and he told me that the third unit held a Regina Automatic Music Disc Player from 1890 in mint condition! He went on to tell me with a sigh that the winning bidder would clean it up a bit and sell it for $10,000 on ebay!!!! Oh MY!!!! I felt like I had witnessed Greatness!!!
We moved on to the next three units, which held boxes full of dishes, clothes and holiday decorations, furniture and a cheap bedroom set. Although the auctioneer tried to get bidding to start at $100, each of these units sold for $10. The young woman who spent $30 for all three units, said she was going to sell the metal from the furniture bases and garage sale the junk in the boxes. She felt that her $30 investment would get her about $500. She did not take into account the work it would take to empty these units. I don’t think she really cared!!!
We wrapped up the auctioning at a third building near the ocean side of our town. This part of town suffers a bit from humidity in non-climate controlled units and when they opened the final garages, mustiness was something that would have to be contended with. Again, they were full of belongings that were easily replaced in someone’s’ life and you wondered a bit what happened that they left it behind.
There was a gentleman who stood in the back of the crowd while his friend bid on one of the units. It appeared to be full of books and papers and boxes of nondescript belongings. The bidding got high, too high for what was in there and it appeared that someone was trying to outbid the bidder. But he continued to bid and when it hit $1300 the nemesis stopped provoking the bid. I asked the bidder if he saw something in the unit that the rest of us did not see. He looked at the man who was hanging in the back. Boldly, the man stepped forward and with tears in his eyes he looked at his friend and said “I don’t know how I’m ever gonna pay ya back man!!! But I’ll try everything I can to make it up to you!”
And then he looked at me and said, “My wife died a few months ago and things have been pure Hell. All the kid’s pictures are in there and finances just got out of control and I couldn't catch up. So the unit was supposed to be sold off and I would lose those pictures.” He turned to his friend. “But, my friend stepped up and helped me out. He saved it for my kids, and for me….and for my wife.” He turned and walked away overwhelmed.
The Regina Music player with 125 years of historical musicology hidden in the dark corner of a storage unit and a Man’s life with a wife who is gone held in boxes recovered by a friend, this is NOT junking; This is The Story of Us.