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Saturday, January 28, 2012

Princesses, Poo, Crowds & Toys/"Toys": An all-day Storage Unit Buying Bonanza

Welcome!   We each started different blogs today, not realizing that the other one had done so-- here is a combination that nearly perfectly sums up our grueling 17 hour day!    Here goes...


7:00 am

Brian:  Hey everyone...Brian here...about to begin a fun filled day of caravan auctions with Rebecca!  Woke up to the crashing thunder of a Deep South Thunderstorm/Cold front moving through...and all I could think was...."WOW, I wonder if this weather will deter some of the competition from coming out!"  More importantly...will it deter some of the looky-loos so that we can actually have a decent AND FASTER moving auction schedule today!  Only one way to find out!

Rebecca:  I cannot believe I am up this early.  Brian should at least be proud of me.  He scared the crap out of me when he called me to wake me up because I forgot I had changed his ringer from "Windchimer" to "Darth Vader's Song" (whatever it is that you call Darth Vader's song).  But it's not the first thing you want to hear in the morning regardless.   Off to bring Lola to the dog groomers (no idea how long the poor thing is going to have to stay there, either), and then time for auction!

9:00 am

Rebecca:  First auction in New Orleans East was fine-- unfortunately Brian was driving like a bat out of hell to get there, and I feared for my safety just a little tiny bit.  We were still slightly late and almost missed the first unit.  It's okay though, it wasn't really anything much, even though I did throw a bid or two down just out of curiosity.  It was kind of a mystery and there were some fishing poles inside.  I have some Wheel of Fortune money now, so it's rock and roll time.  These people who have angered me over the last few months better watch out-- I am not letting ANYTHING go for cheap today!  Best part of the entire first auction was when a crowd of about 8 left the facility (we ran into them on the way in) and they kindly let us know that the "auction was over" -- yeah, okay, whatever.  It turns out that they were still auctioning off the first unit!  Don't ever believe anything you hear in this business!

10:00 am

Brian:  Well, so we race back across the city to the second facility...TONS of people....(so much for the rain being a factor FOR us!)  The first unit they open is this little LITTLE one with just a handful of boxes...but we BOTH spot the box o'CD's and what not...Becca puts on her poker face and the bidding begins....!  I think it started at 25 or so, and we quickly take it to 100...a couple of guys are still bidding and we take it too 130...(Becca is doing the bidding and I am off in the corner doing my complaining maneuver about "how I can't believe she is buying this "SHIT" that I am going to have to cart downstairs!  The others back down...(and Rebecca is making no bones about the fact that her WHEEL OF FORTUNE money has come in...and if they thought we had abilities before to buy...they should reevaluate!)...and we do our ceremonial high five!  At least 200+ cds and dvds among all kinds of stuff!  A good locker to be sure.  We immediately go to the second locker that is same floor right around the corner and spot some nice items...well the facilities boxes!  We love it....bidding commences...and Becca is NOT letting this one go either...others take it to $400 and Becca puts out $425...done...ours....!  Lots of great items...not a lot of time to look at that time...needed to get onto another facility!

Rebecca:   The crowds are crazy.  Over 80 people here.   We're lucky to be getting anything at all!  The first unit, I just had THAT feeling... I knew something good was inside.  Plus, the ALDO and Banana Republic bags helped.  I also saw that box fully loaded with CDs.     As for Unit #2...  it was nicely packaged and the furniture that I could see was small, easily moveable, and nice.

11:00 am 

Rebecca:  No time for lunch, only a quick stop at Burger King where it's off to auction #3.  Because I literally only had 2 1/2 minutes to eat (and I have a really small stomach), I just got a Kids Meal.  I didn't know this at the time, but Kids meals come with pincher toys and crowns, these days.   I put my crown on and wore it for the rest of the auction.  Everyone made fun of me, especially the cute auctioneer.  It's okay though-- I don't mind bringing entertainment value to the masses!  Plus, I was having fun.  Here's a picture:

And yes, admittedly, I was referring to myself as the "Storage Princess" -- in my defense though, I wasn't even in dress/heels today like usual!  I had a feeling we'd be doing a lot of digging, so I have my bum clothes on.  Notice my Michael Scott's Dunder Mifflin Scranton Meredith Palmer Memorial Celebrity Rabies Awareness Pro-Am Fun Run for The Cure t-shirt!

Brian:  After we eat our five course KING meal....Rebecca puts on the Burger King crown and proceeds to wear it!!!...ALL DAY....she had a pair of Saints Fleur de Lis sunglasses in her purse and put those on as well...not that she needed to take it over the top or anything!  Auctioneer direct quote to Becca..."...are you serious!"....;)  It was a great moment in time!


Rebecca:  We get to a particular facility where one of the lockers up for grabs belongs to a tenant who we've seen up several times before at different facilities.  She just has a ton of units.  I don't even think it's a financial concern, just that it's impossible to keep up with that many units.  Anyway, she is super organized and very friendly, and we have worked with her before-- so when we did our research about the tenants we made sure to make a reminder note when we found a unit that was hers.  On the off chance that she wanted it back we'd be able to sell her the things back and do something nice for her, and if she didn't, we'd still be able to sell the items and make a profit.   Let it be known though that whenever she calls us (if she does) to buy units back we never let them go for less than what she owed the facility-- that way it's a win for everybody.   That unit made our Unit #3.

Brian:  What's funny about that is that EVERYONE thought, because of how nice it looked that it was a "company" or "build-up" unit and that it was "staged" - ha.   A little research goes a long way.

1:00 pm

Rebecca:  We hit a little snag in the auction at some point, when we arrive at one facility with the auctioneer, and everyone else is at a separate facility.  With caravan auctions you ALWAYS have to pay attention to the newspaper listing- even if it is typoed, and in an geographical order it has never been in before or one that doesn't make sense-- they legally have to proceed with it the way it was written for the sake of the tenants who may be trying to follow along and save their items.   We were super excited when we found out that there were TWENTY-TWO units and only FOUR bidders.   It didn't last that way for very long.

Brian:  Yes...and then one after another after another at high speeds EVERYONE showed up and trickled that two full pages of bidders filled up...20+!!!  Oh well...for 4 was nice to think that 4 of us were going to split 22 units.....of which we would have probably acquired over half of the 22!!!  Give me a would have been hauntingly beautiful!!!!

Rebecca:  The first unit that opened up, I fell in love with.  I just had a good feeling about it,  it had some fishing stuff, sports stuff, some model airplane boxes, just seemed like someone with a ton of disposable income.  I took it all the way to $400 and Brian encouraged me to back down.  I did, but I was heartbroken.  I think I bitched at him for the next 45 minutes.  I tried to make myself feel better by saying that there WAS one large item in the unit, a dryer.  Then, when I found out that our competitor who had purchased the unit was running low on funds after buying 8 rooms, I jumped at the chance to make a deal-- I offered to purchase the unit from him for my $400 bid (his winning bid was $425),  he said no to that, but wanted the dryer-- so he paid me $50 and took the dryer and I paid $425 ($375 out of our pockets total) and purchased the unit.    Win win.    The best part is, when we opened it up, there was some gold, and OLD silver, and jade, and lots of kids toys (at least 500 dinosaurs, and power wheels) and a coach's entire lot of baseball equipment, 3 laser printers, books, all sorts of amazing things-- and we haven't even hardly dug into that one yet.

Brian:  Becca did broker a magnificent deal that left us with TONS of toys and assorted "parade" style items such as folding chairs, coolers etc.  I have a feeling there will be more to tell about this unit in the blogs to come!!!

Rebecca:  There was a unit along the way that I took up to $125 but let it go-- it had Mardi Gras beads and DVDs/CDs.  Thousands of them. I realized that the CDs were pirated so I backed down--- no amount of $ is worth Federal charges!   Turns out, I was right-- the guys that bought it have absolutely no avenue to sell those in!

Brian:  As the pirated CD unit was being auctioned...a group of kids were playing in an adjacent backyard...but they were playing by swinging a full weighted shovel at each other...!  Now when I say kids...I mean 5-6 years old!!!  The shovel weighed more than them!  We were trying to get them to stop before someone got hurt, with little success I might add, when one of the older ladies...mother figure and all....spoke up!  "Hey, you kids...put that shovel down NOW!"  And they stopped immediately, dropped the shovel...stared for a moment...and then ran around the corner out of view!!  It was hilarious and cute at the same time!  They then kept coming from around the corner and taunting us, but when she would look at them...away they went again!  I now know who to send bad children to in the future!!!

Rebecca:  The kids thing was hilarious--  it was like that scene straight out of "Tommy Boy" - you know the one!  And as if this day can't get any stranger, we also start noticing at this facility, although we love it and have never had problems with it or it's cleanliness--  that there are piles of dog poo on the floor.  On a 2nd story floor.    We notice the first one right away, I take a picture,  then 3 or 4 units later we notice another one, in a separate building.  I'm not sure WHAT is going on there, but it can't be good!

Here's a picture:

2:00 pm

Rebecca: We ended up with 2 units (Unit #4 and Unit #5), the one that we got for $75 and the one from our competitor.  We ended up having to wait in the office for what seemed like FOREVER because there was paperwork on 22 units and there were about 8-9 different buyers (Ironic right, after the crowd of 50+?)   --  plus, even though we were first in line, we had to wait for our competitor to get his paperwork to do the "switch" of ownership.   It was okay, we weren't complaining-- we know the facility people were just doing their jobs as quickly as they could, plus, any break is a good break.  Well, this one lady (I personally can't stand her, if your remember a couple of weeks ago she's the one that bid me up $200 and won a unit because she saw a MacBook box... plus, she always acts like she knows everything and she's only been going to auctions for the past few weeks, but I digress) --  anyway, she's super impatient and asks for the gate code (to bring the vehicles into the facility to load), which I had just asked for and they didn't have it yet.   They explain nicely to her that they are trying to generate one for us.   She asks about 3 times and on the third time, says "okay, i'll just come back and get it LATER-- here's your pen!"  and THROWS the pen she had in her hand across the counter into the face of one of the Storage Unit employees.  This is NOT a smart move.   The storage unit employee, very calmly (kudos/ "cud-does" to her, because I personally would have been NOT calm at all)   says "That was not necessary, you almost hit me in the eye."    You can tell the lady was suddenly embarrassed as she realized what she had done, in front of everyone, she apologized and gave some crap about how "she didn't realize her own strength" or something like that... and quickly walked out.  I doubt she'll be buying there again!  After her "forgetting to pay"  that one time, and now this, she's very quickly eliminating facilities that she can buy from again!   That's okay, less competition for us!

3:00 pm -

Rebecca:  We weren't able to get a good look at both units, but we were able to stick our heads into the one we bought from our competitor.  We realized right away that he took a box of jewelry out somewhere during the middle of the auction before he had paid for the unit, which is total crap and we will never trust him again and shouldn't in the first place--  (Brian was 100% right when he warned me not to buy the unit from him) -- but we also realized that in his haste he left some gold and jade behind and even potentially ivory-- plus a lot of silver-  and not only silver but really OLD silver (goblets and things in boxes marked early 1900s)... so that's a win!  At least if you're going to try to pull one over on us, be thorough.  I'm still pleased with the unit though and know that we have way more than $375 worth of stuff.   Of the 20 or so boxes in the unit, so far it appears that every single one of them is FULL of toys,  little cars, monster trucks, trains, airplanes, baseball equipment, and dinosaurs.  I have never seen so many dinosaurs in my life.... there have to be at least 500 dinosaurs.  Not kidding.  Here's a video about one of the more persistent little guys:

                                                Aren't Dinosaurs Supposed to be Extinct?

4:00 pm -

Rebecca:  We play with our toys for a few seconds and then realize how late it is--  this facility had SO many units that we are now late to pick up our wife and dog, respectively (poor Lola has been finished at the groomers for over 5 hours now, and Lily was waiting patiently as well)--  so it is definitely time to go.  We skip the last 3 facilities of the day-- we have 5 units at this point, so enough is enough!

5:00 pm -

Rebecca:  Okay, everyone's picked up, and normally we would call it a day and pick up all of our units tomorrow, but we have a couple of problems.  1) We are having sales on Saturday so that day is not free, plus I have our Mystic Krewe of Nyx (a brand new Mardi Gras Krewe that I'm a member of-shout out!) ball that night, so that's a definite no.   2)  We have 5 units, so even if we did have Saturday free (which we don't), we'd have to spend at least part of Thursday and Friday to get them out.  3)  Friday is one of 2 days per week that Brian ACTUALLY works in his store in the French Quarter, Java House Imports,  and finally 4) (and most importantly) - the first facility that we purchased from  is at 95% capacity and therefore, instead of having 48 hours to clean out the units we only have 24.  And we bought 2 of them.  Oh snap.  So...  the facility is open until 9--- we rush over there and figure we can get a few solid hours of work in tonight.  That's exactly what we do.

7:00 pm -

Brian:  A storage facility at night can be like walking on the moon...but with more refined metal!!!  It is silent and echoing all at the same going to a haunted house...where there is better lighting...and the scary stuff is locked behind big doors....waiting to be unleashed!!!  Even the carts are "chained" to the walls to either protect them from us....or us from them!!!  Can't tell!   Animals.....animal carts!!  And then, there is the elevator ride into the unknown.....or as I like to call it...the 3rd floor!  Where two of our units awaited....begging to be freed from their tombs!

Rebecca:  Storage Facilities are SCARY at night, y'all!  I actually got there 5 minutes earlier than Brian and waited in my car because I was NOT getting in there by myself.   When there's not a soul around, and it's pitch black, it's very eerie.  I realized how lucky I am to have a partner in this, because there is no way I'm brave enough to do it on my own at times like this!  And the elevators at many of these facilities have broken down on us before... so the last thing I need is to be stuck in an elevator where no one even knows I'm in there!     But anyway...  we found an unlocked cart, went upstairs, or up-elevator, and the first unit was exactly what we thought it was, and more.   200 or more CDs, all new in their cases, with the inserts and (thank goodness) the CDs are all inside.   I can't tell you how many times you just find jewel cases with nothing in them --  because I saw the records and other things though, I thought it was a pretty safe bet to assume the CDs were inside, and they were.   We had about 40 records,  some VHS and DVDs and Cassettes, and a lot of super collectible music things-- signed albums, old albums, one of the original Star Wars albums.  There's also a super lot of Depeche Mode stuff- so if anyone is a fan, we have a lot of really rare collectible things from them too, i'm pretty sure. On top of some kitchen stuff, and some other good stuff ( I'd tell you what, but I can't really remember, it's all sort of running together)-- it was a pretty snazzy unit.  We'll post individually about that one in the near future.

The second unit... well, that unit was a complete other story.   Everything had been nicely packed and it was clear that it was an entire home (without furniture) which was a good for a 24 hour move.  They had purchased ALL of the boxes from the storage facility (See how I go out of my way to avoid mentioning which company we bought from?  Hopefully they appreciate that!)  ...    that's a great sign, see our tips below for details.   I will tell you this about our tenant.  He was a gentlemen, who was married (perhaps separated or divorced) with children.   He is gay.  I'm not sure if anyone knows that he is gay or not.    The reason that this is important to the story at all, is that in addition to the really nice table, and chairs, and super amazing top of the line microwave, and Williams Sonoma brand new in bag utensils, and amazing perfectly wrapped art, and really nice wardrobe complete with very well kept clothing, etc, etc, etc,  were (this is where you need to censor or stop reading if you are easily offended)--   lots of evidence of his dark side.     I mean--  transvestite items, like boobs, dresses, makeup, and instructions to put on the makeup.  Dildos, cock rings, lube, gay pornography, condoms, lube, that sort of thing.    It even goes a step further-- because there is also bondage tape, torturing devices, a Bowflex machine type thing that was obviously used for some sort of sex chamber, whips and chains, devices that bind and lock, and things I couldn't even understand what they were for even after I looked them up on the internet.  (By the way, I know I'm digressing, but I really have to say, that every time I go to the Apple Store Genius Bar, they look at me like I'm INSANE when they see my history.  I can thank Storage Wars for that!)   But back to our current story--  there was also transsexual porn, which I had never seen before, and also the biggest dildos I have ever seen in my life.  I am serious.  They are the length of my arm and the width of my thigh.    Here's a video  (be warned, again, it's adult material!):

9:00 pm  -

Rebecca:  Finally home, eating dinner, watching The Big Bang Theory.  (I love that show, plus I guess it was appropriate after the dinosaurs.  Not to mention, when you have been around Brian too much and then aren't around Brian, it's comforting to listen to Sheldon ramble on about his nerdy things! ;) )   It's quickly back to work, because time to list Craigslist and Garage Sale ads for our super sale on Saturday (the toughest part is listing what you have to sell when you don't even know yet)-- but if I don't I'll miss the deadlines and we won't have any customers and that will be bad.  It's also blog time and I've spent the better part of the last hour uploading pictures for you lovely people to look at later.  You're welcome.


Brian: Moral of the story... work smart not hard... but sometimes you might have to work smart not hard late!  You do what you have to do!

Rebecca:  It's only 11:50?  Is that all?  It feels like 3am. I am EXHAUSTED, and still need to go get the other 3 units tomorrow plus set up for our Saturday sale.  Goodnight, everyone!

Until next time,

Storage Heroes

Storage Heroes Tip #27:    When you look into a unit and see that all of the boxes have the facility logo on it, that is an excellent sign.  It usually means three things... 1) the person had money to spend on their pack/move  2)  the person was organized and planned OR in a hurry and maybe purchased the boxes last  minute (but usually the former), and 3) the person really cared for their things.   It's a very good sign to see facility boxes in a unit.  

Storage Heroes Tip #28:   It is NOT a good sign to see OTHER facility boxes in a unit (For example, maybe you're at Jim's Storage Company and the boxes read Sure Storage) - Yes, those are both made up names.  The point is that THIS means that the tenant has bounced from facility to facility and you can then assume that they either move around a lot, or they don't pay their bills and get evicted a lot-- either way, not a great sign.


  1. A tip for you. If you are going to split a locker with someone you should invest in a lock out hasp. If you are unfamiliar with them check this link:

    They are commonly used for saftey. They can hold up to six pad locks and cannot be removed until all locks have been removed. Both parties would have to be present to enter the locker, thus protecting both from theft by the other.

    Just a suggestion. I hope it helps.

  2. Thanks, Tim! We will add that to our "Storage Heroes Tips" page and highlight it on Facebook. Great tip!

  3. Hey becca, i have a question for you, if i ever come acoss some adult material or huge dildos, how could i sale them? Could i sale them in a garage sale by putting them in a close box and putting adult material writing on it?

  4. Mario that question is SO wrong on SO many levels. I'll answer for Becca....NO!!! You cannot sell them at a garage sale or anywhere else! Throw them away!

  5. Well, that pose certainly says that you are a storage royalty. :-) And thank you for those tips. I think unit buyers and auctioneers should bear these tips in mind, so they will know how to look for storage space. It will save them from picking the wrong unit and shelling out money.



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