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Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Company Unit

Howdy!  As you all know by now, we haven't bought a unit in several weeks-  we've been going to the auctions as usual, and throwing up our best bids, but it just never worked out for us. Sometimes, that's the way it goes in this business.  Both Storage Wars and Auction Hunters (not to mention Storage Wars Dallas) have put out brand new seasons recently, so we've had 4-5 TIMES the amount of bidders we've normally had.   I'm not talking 10 or 12 instead of 5... I'm talking 80 or 90 instead of 20.  It's been totally ridiculous, and a pretty big obstacle for us.  BUT- there is no reason for us to waste money, no matter how much we like a room-- so we made a pact to just be patient until everyone got a unit or two, realized that this wasn't for them, and wandered back off.  It happens every couple of weeks the same way.  We waited, and waited, and watched all of the newbies buy rooms.  Even our competitors laid low-- it seems like all of the other regulars were hanging on patiently as well, just like we were.   It paid off, because last week, all of the regulars purchased pretty decent lockers-- us included.  We bought 3 units in one day and I'm very excited about it.  Rooms that the day before were going for $425 and $450 were now back to their usual $145 and $260.   What a relief.

Before we go into this particular buying day, let's go back to the day before for a second.  Brian was missing from auction to do whatever it is that he does  (I'm betting that there was a Star Trek marathon on somewhere)-- but everyone needs a day off here and there so I was happy to let him go.  PLUS, he's been kind of a bidding nazi lately so I figured that with the cat away, the mouse could play... right?  Wrong.  Even though I was free to make bids as crazy as my little easily-exciteable heart wanted to,  my common sense took over--  there was no way that I could explain to Brian that I had totally thrown away all of our money.   It's a pity too, because I was really looking forward to buying a unit by myself just to prove him wrong!

On a side note, too, this is what I get for bragging-- the night before, Storage Wars (the TV show, in case you've been living under a rock) had promo'ed Brandi going out and buying a unit alone without Jarrod and I kept teasing Brian on Facebook that she was going to do well and so was I.  Turns out (spoiler alert)  that she lost over $3000.    Oops!  I made sure that Brian did NOT watch the episode before I went to auction!   

There WERE two units that I liked at auction, and I tried really hard to get them...  one was early in the day at one of the nicer and more conveniently located facilities, so sure enough there were a full 80 people present.  The unit rolled open and was a tiny thing, 5 X 15, I believe,  but it was nicely packed and organized.  There was a stand-up kitchen mixer on the ground,  a very nice curio cabinet type thing with about 8-12 porcelain dolls sitting nicely inside facing front, and 2 empty jewelry boxes on top of the curio cabinet.  There were also a half dozen boxes and bags, and a visible walker.   You could tell that it was an older ladies' unit, perhaps even her estate, and I wanted to play.  I knew I could get at least $75-$100 for the curio cabinet, and a good $80 for the mixer (if I didn't keep it myself), and at least $10 a piece for the dolls (maybe more if they are actually collectible to other people and not just the tenant).   I knew I could get $15 a piece for the jewelry boxes.   I was willing to gamble on the miscellaneous boxes and bags and hope that the jewelry was inside somewhere.    There was at least $350 in value that I saw, so I figured I would go up to $200-$250 and see what happened next.    I started the bidding at $50 and because only about 5 people could see the unit so far (everyone else was lined up around the corner),  the only person who bid against me was this guy who is a regular but not necessarily one of our friends (if that makes sense) -- and he took me all the way up to $350.   He stopped bidding.  I told myself right then and there that I could get my money back at $350 and was willing to gamble $50 to see if the jewelry was there, so $400 was the absolute highest I would go.  I held my breath-- now I had to make it through the line of about 75 people.   I watched as each one of them came around, looked in the room, the auctioneer called $350, and they kept moving.  The $350 call must have been uttered about 15 times and each time I held my breath.  When the last few bidders came around I was nervous because several of the last five were regulars -- but I guess they didn't want it, or saw it was me, so they were going to let me have it.    I pulled my lock out and was ready to have the auctioneer call it, when the guy who had been previously bidding against me hollered $375 (his daughter had noticed the dolls and really wanted them).   I gave my final $400 bid and held my breath.  He bid $425, and I walked away.  As frustrated as I was that I didn't win the unit, I was even more frustrated because I thought that I had won it for a good ten minutes.    It's okay though because I was proud of myself for sticking to my rules.  And, about an hour later, the guy made sure to tell me that there was nothing else in there other than what was visible to the eye, so he will be lucky if he gets his money back.  That made me feel a little bit better!

The rest of the day passed by without any units that I really cared for-- one or two here or there that I let my friends bid on and win...   and then at the end of the day there was one that I really liked.   There were only ten or twelve bidders left by this point, including mostly regulars and some newbies- this couple with a small child who have been coming for about a week or two now, included, and a few others.  The unit was even smaller than the other one that I wanted,  a 5 X5 or 3X5-- and it had an office chair, a file cabinet, a rubbermaid stackable (with the 3 or 4 drawers), and some wicker furniture.   Also, random assorted boxes and bags.  We bid against each other back and forth until about $150, and then I realized that the reason they were bidding is because there was a MacBook Pro laptop box in the unit.   If there is one thing I've learned from this business, it's that CELLPHONES and LAPTOPS are NEVER in their boxes.  Never, ever.  I want you to think about the cellphones and laptops you own that WORK.   How many of them are in their factory boxes at this moment in time?  That's right, that's what I thought.   The reason is because they are the two most valuable commodities (besides money) that most people have.  They are used far too often to EVER be stored in a box.   Yes, I am passionate about this-- it is common sense, and a good tip.   So...  I realize they see the box and assume the $2500 laptop is in the unit--  so at this point, I really wanted to teach them a lesson.   I got them all the way up to $250 before I stopped bidding.  I think the unit went for $260 or $275.     I actually heard a rumor that they went to the office and paid for their other $20 unit but did not pay for the $270 unit, and actually were chased down by store management to either pay the money or get out of the unit...    not a great foot to get off on!   I also heard that the laptop was indeed, NOT in the box.  I feel sorry for them but you can't go by what you don't see, unless you're willing to gamble and you're okay with that.

I wasn't feeling well so wrapped up auctions with the last one, and didn't even bother telling Brian how it went.  I think I muttered some pretty cryptic things at him  like "dollhouses... laptop box.. too high"  but didn't really provide him with many details.

The next day we started out at a facility that had two units-- one we liked, the other we didn't.  The one we liked went for over $500, and had a piano, some tools,  a nice piece of antique furniture, and some household goods.   We were the $500 bid, and no one was willing to bid $550.  I thought we had it and panicked for a minute, because I realized I REALLY didn't want to move a piano-- especially this one, because it had obvious water damage on the bottom 5 inches.   Finally, one of the regulars bid $525 and I breathed a sigh of relief- we let him get that one.  The other unit was RANDOM.  It had drug addict written all over it.   It contained:  Rock Band for XBOX,  a piece of furniture, some wood, contracting supplies, and some wheels/tires.    It was super strange and I didn't like it at all-- so we walked away.

The next facility had two units as well--  we liked both of them but only bought one.  Funny story about that-- as we're bidding on the one we won, someone bids against us-- we ask who it is and realize it's one of our friends...  we're shocked and she apologizes-- she had NO idea it was us!  We bid another $10 and she let us win the unit at $130.      The very next unit, we bid, and hear HER gasp-- I had no idea SHE had the bid on the unit (it's hard to tell sometimes when there are THAT many people around)--  she bid another $10 and won the unit at $140--- so we each cost each other an extra $20!   How's THAT for ironic?   

We liked both units but we got one, and our friend got one--  so it all worked out.  When we went to the office to pay; however, on the receipt where there would normally be the tenants name was marked "Company Unit" -- I was a little upset, as we hadn't heard during the auction that it was a company unit.

A little lesson on "company units" --  most newbies assume at auction that a company unit means that the unit belonged to a company--  offices and desks that belonged to a bank, perhaps, or computer software for a tech company, etc.   That's actually pretty far from the truth.   Although they MAY refer to company tenants as company units, a company unit actually means (most of the time) that the unit is a "build-up unit" and belongs to the storage facility (the company in question).   It is a collection of abandoned items from other storage units assembled until it was enough to auction off as a full unit.   For example, let's say one tenant moves all of their items out of their unit except for the washing machine, which they cannot fit onto the moving truck.  They leave it behind. The storage company can throw it away-- but that's kind of a waste to throw away a perfectly good machine.  They don't want to leave it in that unit, because that unit needs to be available to rent out.  So, they move it to another unit, and leave it there.   When someone else leaves something behind, they move that to join the washing machine, and so on, and so forth, until they have a full unit worth of stuff.  They auction it off usually at a regular storage auction (and tell you it's a company unit that you're bidding on)... sometimes though they will let you go into the unit and pick out one or two things, or sell the items individually-- that's how I got the trampoline on my back porch for $5.  

Anyway... none of us heard the auctioneer call out that this was a company unit, but either way, it was ours now, so we headed on down to see what we had purchased for $120.  Here is a picture of what the unit looked like when the doors rolled open:

You could see a Papasan chair (without cushion but still cool), some car speakers, some house speakers, two end tables, a ladder, and a few miscellaneous boxes and bags.  We figured we'd about double our money.  The flashlight in the picture is nice too, but it wasn't in the unit! :) 

After taking a brief look through the unit, the VERY first thing I found was this dress...  it's gold, it's pretty, and it's just my size!  That's good, because Carnival ball season time is here, y'all!

Another view of my dress!

Another shot of the unit:

Brian digging through something... I had to take a picture-- it doesn't happen often!  He usually just paces around waiting for ME to dig through everything :)

Some wrapped clothing:

In this bag, we found "the thing" --   a vacuum sealed, SOMETHING....  we had no idea what it was.

A close-up of the THING.  We dropped it, squeezed it, smelled it, did whatever to try to figure it out and no dice.  We decided to open it...

Here's a video of us opening the thing...

Turns out it was lavender filled sachets-- the kind you put in a heat up pillow or sock or whatever.   Who vacuum seals that?    I guess now we know...

Another shot of the unit-- this one gives you a good view of our new ladder, and the cabinet, which was actually pretty nice!

The speakers close up

Of course, we found this right away!   Pretty sure Brian is keeping it for himself!

I look over to a corner that I've looked at twice and something catches my eye... I run over, and sure enough, it's...

A Wii balance board!   In perfect condition!  Score!   These things retail for $80 with the game and are going alone for $45 on eBay, so that's pretty awesome.  Almost half of our unit's cost back in one item.

A cute little tailgating grill... that's $20-$40.

Two TV's, that's another $10 easily.

Close-up of our Papasan... kind of sucks that it doesn't have a cushion, but as Brian pointed out, it's a good thing because people are going to want to pick their own colors, etc.  Plus, we don't have to worry about smells, cleaning, bed bugs, that sort of thing.

A rubbermaid bin tower--  ALWAYS useful and wanted.

Who doesn't need/want a Playboy bunny memo board?

A mini-fan, some duffle bags, cleaning supplies, and random miscellaneous items...

VHS, DVDs, and video games...

More DVDs, VHS, and Video games...

Closeup of the drawers in the Sterilite/Rubbermaid tower-- it's all salon/spa equipment/products

Drawer #2

Drawer #3

Drawer #4
Closeup of the other speakers..

Another speaker in a box... not sure if it works or not but I'm sure someone will give us something for it.

Close-up of the inside of our cabinet--  in good quality and really nice shape.

Some pieces of silverware wrapped individually as if they are silver-- but they aren't... just stainless or silver plate.  Still a few dollar bills, though!

More salon/spa products...

Including a brand new, as seen on TV, Wrap, Snap & Go! Leopard print.

I was excited to show this next item to Brian...

A US Navy Carriers DVD from a WAR special from the History channel.

Letters from a Storage Locker?  4, all sealed in envelopes??

No, more like little kids drawings to his/her friends and family.  At least they are cute!   This one looks like Snow White.

Harry Potter?

OUCH... kid OBVIOUSLY does not like THIS person as much!  They didn't get color,  and not even legs or arms.

After that bag of mystery white substance (keep in mind we didn't know what it was until AFTER we left the unit)... I was on high alert.  When I found this bag of green I had to double-take... but it's actually fake moss for wreaths and floral arrangements!

More craft stuff...

More craft stuff!  I must have 22 glue guns already...  no complaints!

Our papasan again with a poster or something in it... I need to look at that next time we go into this unit.

There were lots of birthday posters left behind...

An entire box full...

Ooh, a Catholic High School skirt!  This will come in handy for costume parties.
And it fits!  Although oddly enough, I think it's the uniform of Grace King, which is NOT a Catholic high school.

Brian checking out the unit with one of our friends, Mike.   You may recognize him from Storage Hunters.

A great shot!

I found this little box of collectible birthday dolls (one for each year of your daughters life)-- and realized how cute they were (probably expensive, too)...

Until I realized that half of them were missing their heads!    Not as cute.

A close-up of some of the intact dolls.

And some of the not-so-intact.

I went back through the box to get all of the broken pieces out-- maybe later (with the superglue we found in the last unit) we will be able to glue them all together.    Oh, and it's a good thing I went back into the box digging through broken pieces of glass, and trash, and glitter, and craft projects, and random miscellaneous... because I found these as well...

That's right... Gold!   Turns out only one of the three is real gold (can you guess which one based on everything we've taught you?)...  but it's a good $30-40 in 10k... so that's an excellent start to getting our value back from this unit!

So... all in all,   counting the papasan, speakers, ladder, gold, costumes/dresses, video games, balance board, spa stuff, and the rubbermaid containers--  I think you can safely say we doubled our money, which is what we always try to do.  Will update you guys here if we find anything else or sell anything else!

Stay tuned... should have another blog up by end of week!  Lots of things happening lately!

If you saw anything you like or want to buy in this blog, feel free to contact us at or (504) 535-HERO

Storage Heroes Tip #11:  Company or build up units generally are NOT going to be where you find cash, or gold, or treasure-- (after all, someone has gone through them, sometimes even multiple sets of people)--   BUT, if you can SEE value-- it might not be a bad unit to pick up to double or triple your money!   

Storage Heroes Tip #13:  Cellphones and laptops are NEVER in their boxes.  Unless they are broken or in need or repair.  Trust us on this one!

Until next time...

Storage Heroes

PS - Geaux Tigers!


  1. It seems that you’re getting your money back from the items you found. Fighting for that storage locker in the auction really is worth it, eh? I'm thinking those home speakers might sell big. Well, just by looking at it, it seems that it is still brand new.

  2. Great find for $120! I didn’t know storage facilities do not just serve as an extension to a house, but it is also a great business opportunity for you guys. My rented unit is where I keep some of my childhood stuff, my parents’ possessions and even my cousin’s personal things. He often visits and stays with us during Christmas season. As soon as he arrives, he goes down to the storage facility and gets his things back to our house. Anyway, thank you for posting and good luck with your business!



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