About Storage Auctions

Attending a self-storage auction can be a thrilling and profitable experience. While auction winners may not always find dream units, the excitement of not knowing exactly what's up for sale is unique to storage auctions. Investigating a newly won storage unit can feel like ripping open the Cracker Jack prize: you may get a silly temporary tattoo or a great decoder ring!

Whatever prize awaits you, bidding at a storage auction for the first time isn't something you should do on a whim. The auction experience will be more rewarding if you know what to expect before you arrive. Prepare yourself by reading these tips, and by attending a few practice auctions to observe before you bid.

Who you'll see at storage auctions

Storage auctions are more popular than ever, so expect plenty of company (i.e., competition). Typically, around 50 percent of the people who attend auctions run a business selling the items they buy. They're seasoned pros! But many different types of people attend auctions, including artists looking for materials, authors seeking inspiration, treasure hunters, collectors, thrill seekers and curious newbies!

How much you'll spend

Now that storage auctions have become part of mainstream culture, they're very well attended. That means you'll pay much more for units now than you would have before television shows like "Storage Wars." In some cases, you may pay double for a storage unit compared to what it would have gone for just a few years ago. However, there are still deals to be found. You may even end up paying as little as a dollar for a unit that others don't want!

People who attend storage auctions might spend as much as $5,000 or more on a single unit. Other people choose to stay in the $5 to $10 range. The great thing about storage auctions is that there's something for everyone's budget, and that $5 storage unit may hold a treasure.

Busiest days of the week for auctions

There may be much more competition at auctions on Mondays, when professional buyers are trying to restock after weekend sales. Expect to pay more for units if you attend an auction on a Monday. You'll probably have more buying power if you attend an auction on a Friday or Saturday. Regardless of the day you plan on attending an auction, it's always wise to call ahead to make sure that a unit you're interested in is still going up for auction. Sometimes auctions are cancelled at the last minute if the customer pays the bill.

What you'll do if you win

If you plan on attending another storage auction in the future (and even if you don't), be sure to keep up your end of the deal after you win a storage auction. Of course, you'll pay for your unit, but what many people don't consider is the labor involved in cleaning out the unit.

Storage facility owners are relying on you to clean out that unit you've won. Even if you don't like the contents, you're still responsible for clearing the storage unit. If you leave behind a messy storage unit, you may not be welcome at the next auction!

On that note, here are a few tips to help you get prepared before you bid:

  • Arrive with cash. You may have the option to pay with a credit card, but many auctions are cash only.
  • Make sure you can move contents you've won in the time frame required by the storage facility. You may have just two days or less to move items.
  • Get a head start on cleaning out your unit by attending the storage auction in a truck or van with someone to help you. Don't forget the rope and blankets.
  • Take along gloves, comfortable shoes, bottled water, snacks, and a flashlight for peeking into the back corners of the storage unit before bidding.
  • Plan to work hard! Cleaning out storage units isn't a job for the tired or weak. Make a plan for donating, selling or disposing of unwanted items you've won.

Perhaps the most important tip of all is to have fun, and don't get too addicted to buying storage units!