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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Cigars, Booze, & Art -- the Step-by-Step Dig

So you've all heard talks the last few weeks about this amazing unit we found with cigars, booze, and Jazz Fest posters / art -- it's also the unit where we found a platinum wedding band hidden in a cigar box (that was a great surprise for me when I was trying to sell the cigars) --  we've been so busy unloading this unit and trying to sell the items out of it that we've neglected to write the blog showing you the step-by-step process--    Here that is, today!

The unit was purchased after an all -day marathon of bidding at Public Storage locations throughout the city.  We had about six or seven locations and we purchased this unit and another unit at the very last location of the day, on the historic St. Charles Ave. We were very strategic on this day-- we like to wait for the very last location of the day in a marathon day of bidding because usually the bidders (and funds) taper off by the end of the day so it's a good way to get units for a fraction of the price.   We also knew that Tropical Storm Lee was coming our way and Brian was smart enough to realize that this is the only facility in our area that is completely enclosed, even the parking lot area.  We were able to load 4-5 loads into the van without getting even a drop on anything.   This facility has it's down sides, too-- they have a homeless lady who lives inside a unit and frequents the hallways-- she's done this for years.  They also have an entire level that does not have elevators (it's a terrible ordeal to try to push a cart down the stairs)--  but fortunately neither of our units were on those levels.

 Here is the overview picture of what our unit looked like.   If you see the rubbermaid container on the bottom right (it's blue) you might notice something white hanging off of the edges-- these are moths.  This unit had a severe moth problem and this kept a lot of people from bidding against us.  The other bidders kept commenting about how badly moths smell and how difficult they are to deal with, but things like that don't deter us from bidding--- the harder or stinkier it is, the better for us, because the better the price.  This unit went for $350--- other units the same size and fullness that day went for double that.

 Another view of what the unit looked like...

 Another view...

 The blue moth-bucket along with an empty right side-- this is usually a good sign because it means the people left an aisle in order to take care putting their belonging inside the unit.  Units that are super full are great as well, don't get me wrong, but it's better if you can get one that's contents are not haphazardly thrown in.

 On the first day we did our typical "look for valuables" before quickly getting out of there (to return with the van either later that day or the next day) -- it didn't look like there was anything too obvious but then I opened a trash bag (all the way in the back) , and what did I find but a bunch of posters--- we opened them, and they are all signed & numbered pieces of art, including Jazz Fest posters.

If you'd like to see close-up photos of all of the individual pieces of art, you can click here.

 For reference, the art trash bag was the one to the left of the TV in this photo.

 A close up of our moth bucket-- it really was disgusting, a terrible smell and thousands of dead moths-- but hey, who cares-- we now have Jazz Fest posters!

 More of the moths...

 On digging day I started by opening trash bags-- I was half hoping for more art (who wouldn't be) but I was mainly just trying to get rid of trash first.  It makes a big difference when processing units if you can get rid of the trash first because then you're left with a lot more working space to process the actual items of interest.  Clothing is our least favorite item right now, so it made sense to start there.  Once I realized moth of the clothes (ha... that was supposed to be the word most-- fun and appropriate typo!)  were moth eaten, it made sense just to go through them and search for valuables and then throw them away. And boy, were they moth eaten!

 More moth damage!

 Pile of damaged mothy-moth clothes

 After I got finished with 8-9 bags of mothy clothes... there was one final trashbag...  that had electronics in it!  Score!

 A Playstation and all of its cords was a great find, plus a bunch of outlet cords, co-ax cable, etc.

 More clothes and shoes and belts hidden in every free spot....  there were a few collectible Jazz Fest t-shirts, which is great...

 There was also a Ladies golf tee complete with tags still on it, so that's a plus!

 a close-up of the price tag on the Zurich Classic shirt

 And oh... no pants pocket is complete without a bunch of pens (engineer, maybe?) and foreign currency!

 I almost kept this really cool lamp for my house, but I have a profit-nazi for a partner so I decided against it.  It was really really cool though!

 Ah, the cut-locks pile.  You'll find at least one of these in every unit (when the storage facility cuts off the tenant's lock they leave it in the locker for them because I guess, it is technically the customer's property) -- this one had 3 or 4, so you can tell that this has happened several times before!

More moth stuff...

 This pile is pieces of moth eaten clothing remnants and dead moths.  Glamorous!

 More clothing... at least we got a bunch of nice winter jackets and light coats.  Moths must not like coats. At some point, the man worked for CNN--- so there are a lot of CNN logo jackets.   If anyone wants one, let me know!  You can pretend to be Wolf Blitzer.

 Brand new Birkenstocks!   A shame I'm not a hippie.  They are also not my size (Brian was relieved).  I think they are like a 7 1/2 - 8 if anyone wants them.  Tree optional.

 A brand new photo scanner, in the box-- doesn't appear to have ever been opened!  Must be nice.  Again, I'm pretty sure we'll sell this to you if you want it / price is right.

Ahh.. a Sterilite bin.   This must have been next to Melanie's bed, judging by the contents.  There were some very... interesting things inside!  Oh, I guess I didn't tell you about the tenants (although I did elude to them in another post... all this time we've been opening things that look like an older man's items (minus the woman's golf shirt and birkenstocks), and as we got to the front of the unit we start seeing Melanie ___ all over everything --  I still don't know the relationship of the couple, but I know it was a 35-36 year old woman and a 45-50 year old man.  He was paying for the locker and his name was on the bill, but it seemed like 65% of the stuff was hers.  Maybe they recently moved in together and had to combine their assets?  I'm not sure).   -- either way, this HAD to have been hers, and it was full of personal, private things.... and some goodies.  First up in Melanie's treasure trove:

 No wonder Netflix does so well-- there are other people like me who haven't returned a video in 3 years!

 Next up... Brian should be super happy with me for going through piles of business cards-- look at what I found in a stack of business cards in the makeshift nightstand-- coupons for Hooters!  That don't expire!  EVER! :)  We used one of them tonight, in fact.   Holla!

 More awesomeness: A gift certificate to Regal Movie theater.... so what if I have to go to a ghetto movie theater-- (not that Regal is ghetto-- if the people at Regal would like to send me more free things for advertising them, they can feel free ;) -- I'm just saying in my particular area the only Regal cinema is GHETTO!)   But, either way--- it's $10 off!

 Moving on to the scandalous drawer...  Well.... we know what HER Plan B is...

 And here are some pictures of our lady at a strip club...  due to the adult content, please click here if you'd like to see it!  Why anyone would go to a strip club, be photographed with a stripper, and then KEEP those pictures is totally beyond me.

 I don't know what the deal is with these Ugly Teeth, but we've been finding them in virtually every unit lately.  Stay tuned, because this may be a Storage Heroes giveaway in the near future.

Anyone know what this is?  Me either.  I opened a bag, and found a wooden bird feeder, a metal pot, and this black... something.  sculpture?  It feels VERY heavy and looks like metal but it feels like porcelain.   If anyone has any idea what it is, I'll give you my... undying respect.

                                                         Here's a close-up of the thing..

 I liked this art (oil on canvas)  so much that I kept it.  It's now hanging in my kitchen.  It's beautiful!  I hung it on the wall of the storage facility for the entire duration of the dig.

 The girl additionally had some tools (pictured above),  paralegal and LSAT books (pictured above-- there are a ton of really nice ones if anyone wants to buy them), Christmas decorations (there are always Christmas decorations), an antique record player (the kind that comes in a desk type piece of furniture that slides open and closed), and some Mardi Gras beads and work paperwork.     In her nightstand thing aside from the naughty pictures and Plan B, we found a letter and a unused gift from a boyfriend in Australia, a letter and a photo cd from a boyfriend in Florida, a really whiny and pathetic letter from a boyfriend here in New Orleans -- see Letters from a Storage Locker #8 and generally a trail of love destruction.   For the record, I did pop the photo cd in my computer (I always do!!)  and it contained the girl and her ridiculous friends putting on lingerie costumes and dancing on bars around town.  There was also a series of pictures at a Mardi Gras ball where people started licking and sucking on each other in the worst possible places ON THE DANCE FLOOR.   Chandelier and wooden floor and all.  Why are WE not invited to those kinds of parties, Brian wanted to know.

Moving on to Chuck's stuff:  Our first random box of goodies...  mainly a desk drawer full of junk but there was a box of cigars that we sold for $100 at a garage sale... not too shabby!

There were a bunch of nice Christmas gifts, including this nautical flag inspired belt.  $5 if anyone wants it.

We have records!  Just 2 records.  This tipped me off to look for the record player, FYI.   When someone has hundreds of records or 45s or whatever, they usually might not have a record player in the unit-- it might just be a collection of vinyl.  But when people have 1 or 2 random records for what appears to be no reason, it's usually because they have a record player that was passed down and they felt the need to keep at least 1 or 2 things to be able to play on it.

A hair straightener, wine gift set,  Sommelier's guide book,  it's turning into quite the gift extravaganza here.  If you're a friend of mine, please disregard this picture because it's very possible one of these items may be under your Christmas tree in a few months!

We found this e-mail forward that was printed out and it turns out to be very patriotic and was sent originally right after September 11th, regarding how we need to take down Osama Bin Laden.   I read it because I thought it was especially fitting given Bin Laden's recent death--   I didn't think about it until later how close it is/was to September 11th that we purchased this unit (I believe it was the 3rd or 4th)
the second page
So far, this is the accumulation of all of the personal belongings.   We have a lot of cards and pictures, and a marriage certificate (and divorce certificate) for Chuck.

More photo albums.    I don't understand why people store photo albums-- they are so easy to just put in a box or on your bookshelf or even under your bed.  PLEASE do not store your extreme-sentimental items.
A really nice Pampered Chef Springform pan set!  Still in the shrink wrap!

Some sort of table?  I don't know.  Captain Trashbag (Brian) wanted to throw it out, but I wouldn't let him.  I think it MIGHT have been an extension of the bar.  No idea.

Another picture of the thing. 

Two pretty cool golden end-tables - we sold these for $30 and a rotisserie chicken (see the Dear too-skinny blonde girl post)

Ahh, the record player!  It turns out that there were TWO of these in the unit.  I think one must have been his and one must have been hers.  But the real question is--- if you don't even have room for ONE record player in your home/apartment/trailer/wherever you live now, or if you aren't going to use it, then WHY store TWO of them???

Chuck's junk drawer (he had lots of drawers from work that he just emptied into boxes).  I saw the $1 right away, that was exciting (other than change, that's all the cash that was in there).  I was psyched about the Katrina Exposed book though because I had one of those awhile back and lost it.   This one is going on my coffee table.

You can always tell a lot about people by what kind of reading material they buy / go out of their way to print out / keep

While going through the man's binder,  I also found the $5 Starbucks gift card in the junk mail (read the gift cards post if you haven't already), and a $40 gift certificate to a restaurant. Since the man worked at a hotel, I also found a free 2 night stay that he authorized.  Checking into whether we can use this or not!   Amazing what you find when you look at things that just look like 8 1/2 X 11" pieces of paper!

Speaking of paper, I also found this note to our guy-- with the key to a woman's apartment!  I kept thinking that CC was him and BB was her because his name was Chuck, but I later learned that BB stands for "Big Boy" and CC stands for "Crazy Chick" -- at that point I think I vomited in my mouth a little.

CC also sent him about 50 postcards from all over the world-- she would be in the most exotic locations possible but would still talk about how much she missed our dude.  A little sad.

In another "desk drawer" box - there was a really cool star nameplate and an old Jaguar model

I  now have enough DVD-Rs  to last an entire LIFETIME!  Apparently our guy spent most of his time making movies at work.  I have about 500 copied CDs and DVDs (each is nicely labeled, also) - I'm keeping the majority of them for myself but check Facebook if you want to see a list of some that will go for sale.  After I burn them to iTunes I might just sell some of them! :)

We found a laptop, so here was all of the corresponding documentation.  That happens VERY rarely in the storage unit business!  Little victories!

Speaking of victories, how about an entire bar?  Most of these bottles were sealed and unopened!  Lots of rums from Jamaica, Grand Cayman, and other island locals. I  guess they were gifts from CC?  Either way, I'll drink to that!

More liquor.  We are selling this at 50-75% off retail value, as long as you can prove you're 21 and over. Actually, scratch that, I'm just going to drink it all.  PARTY!

More liquor (and office supplies)

More... you guessed it!

One decanter was crystal and beautiful, but had a few sips of whatever THAT used to be, so even though Brian said we could clean it (he really does try to get every cent out of a unit sometimes) there was NO way I was dealing with THAT.  Who knows what it would smell like!

In addition to large signed/numbered Jazz Fest posters, we also had an entire postcard sized collection, already framed.  There's 15-20 years worth, here.  If anyone wants them, let me know, otherwise they are going in my living room!

Close-up of the Jazz Fest postercards

Lightbulbs!  I love these ones!

I now have enough lightbulbs, band-aids (and don't forget the DVD-Rs) to last me a lifetime!

But, believe it or not... even with the cigars, and the booze, and the art (two pieces of which are in my house) , and the wedding band we found inside the cigar box (again, see that previous post if you haven't already), and the armoire, and the end tables, and the TWO record players, and the dirty pictures, and the dollar bill....  the two coolest things in this unit, the ones that made me the happiest... were...

Isn't this desk amazing?  It is custom made and I love it!  It's in my living room!

And two... well, watch the video!

What's one of the best things you can find in a storage unit besides money?

StorageHeroes Tip #7:  If you find something you can use, like lightbulbs, office supplies, paper, batteries, etc-- don't sell it for $1, keep it and save yourself $5-10 down the line.   Since we started this process, Brian has probably collected about 240 bars of soap, we have enough stamps to ship a small child (we once sent off a package that required $17.10 in postage with nothing but stamps on it),  and neither one of us will ever have to buy tape or staplers for the rest of our lives.  I have a stash of hand-sanitizer large enough to probably clear up diseases in lots of third world countries.   Extreme couponer people can stockpile and hoard product, this is no different-- except that it's batteries and stamps and lightbulbs as opposed to things like Dandruff shampoo and Fig Newtons.  Not saying you won't ever use those, I'm just saying.  To each his own.  If it's something you can use, keep it.  If it's something you can't use, sell it.  It's that simple.  Don't get greedy and look for the instant profit now- if it's something you can use (even in the not-so-near future), then it's wiser to store it away somewhere.  Hopefully you'll get a cool Sterilite bin or bookshelf or desk that will hold your new loot!


  1. Thanks for all the pictures, story, etc. This was a great dig. Not sure if I would of bid on the unit or not. Like others the moths would of turned me off to the unit. As for your tip #7 - I agree 100%. In fact the two units I recently bought was mostly for myself, wife, kids and not to sale. Mother and others also got many items from the furniture unit that made them happy. So it's not always about the sale.

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