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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Gold-Digger

Greetings!  Rebecca here.

Last week we bought five units, you probably know that by now--  here is the story of Unit #5.  

When I bought this one, I was well aware of several things:
1)  It was disheveled looking and full of lots of crap
2) It was on a 2nd floor at a facility that does not have a people elevator, only a freight elevator
3) It was at a facility that is not climate controlled
4) Most of what was there was paperwork
5)  The tenant (judging by the cut lots and other facility boxes) had defaulted before.

I knew that this would discourage most of our competition from buying the unit.  I was okay with that, because I also knew these things:
1)  I could see TONS of high-end bags and boxes.  Aldo, Banana Republic, Zales, J. Crew.  They were obviously all empty, but I knew the person had the money at some point, so I was optimistic about that. They may have "mis-spent" their money on designer items as opposed to being financially responsible (paying for storage unit, for example). 
2)  I could definitely see quite a few textbooks and we've had some luck selling those before at a local College Bookstore, so I knew if I could keep the bidding low, we'd at least not lose money.
3)  I know that units that look THAT ransacked have a high probability of having some kind of forgotten treasure (a tiny piece of gold, perhaps)...  
4)  I knew the freight elevator was RIGHT next door and that it was pretty easy to operate.
5) I had my "gold radar" go off... don't ever ignore your instincts. 

So, with all of that said, Brian was supportive and I took the unit up to $75 and we were soon the proud owners of it.
It was a tiny little thing, about 3 X 7 or so...  and was an odd size.  It should have been pretty easy to clean out (10-15 minutes tops) but we decided to do the digging on site because aside from all of the junk and paperwork that was tossed randomly all over the floor, the stuff that was actually in boxes was in boxes that were falling apart.  So...  we wanted to re-sort, tape up boxes, and discard trash right away.
We started getting this one on Friday night and finished it a few days later.

Here's what the unit looked like when the doors rolled open:






Pretty much every box was disheveled and disorganized.  Most people would just look quickly and throw most of it away, but we get ahead in this business by being thorough.  I started by going through piece by piece. Here's the first box I opened:

We found a pamphlet... for something.  I have no idea.  Brian looks pretty excited by it, though!


If Brian remembers what this is, I'll have him post here.  Here's as blown up as I can get the picture... kind of blurry.  Sorry!

Box #2 contained nothing but socks & underwear:

Every SINGLE piece of underwear was designer.  Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, etc.  We see this a lot.  It's amazing how people can spend $35 on a pair of underwear but they can't pay a $79 a month storage locker bill.     This was my favorite pair of drawers:


I've seen some decorative hand-towels in my day, but never one to commemorate a Hurricane!

We found out quickly throughout the process that our lady was a nurse at a local hospital.  In between her textbooks and TONS of paperwork (bills, letters, etc) - were random assorted needles, drug samples, syringes, gauze, etc.  Here is one such example:

Some of the syringes even still had some type of liquid in them!    See the air bubble in this one?

The only reason I took a picture of this is because I found about 12 business cards for various businesses...  Hair Salons, Accountants, Morticians, etc. Finding the business cards wasn't the strange part-- the part that was odd is that EVERY SINGLE CARD featured a man and a woman dressed in formal attire... almost like a prom picture.  Here is one such picture.  (I wish I would have saved the others but I didn't realize the pattern until about the 4th card).  In this one, the gal is in a prom dress, and the guy is in a little bit more casual attire, but you get the point.  And what on earth does an umbrella have to do with a hair salon?   If this company wants to let us know, we'd appreciate it.  Either way-- hopefully this mention in our blog will bring you some business, buddy!
                                         

Next box:


TONS of scrubs.  Always a good thing!

There were also a ton of dog toys, which I'm sure Lola will appreciate at some point!

 An ENTIRE bag of clothing donated to the little dog, which, to my dog's chagrin, is about the same size!

A lot of the clothing was brand new with tags.  And of course, you guessed it,  designer.

It dawned on me after a few pictures that a lot of the clothing was actually created for babies (because I don't think Ralph Lauren makes clothing for dogs)---  the tenant was buying the baby clothing and adapting it for the puppy.  Still... I don't get how you can pay $25 for a shirt for a baby to be used for a dog, and not be able to pay storage on a storage locker.  But I digress.

Another doggie shirt:

More doggie clothes and accessories- brand new with tags, never used:

I was putting the doggie clothing away when one caught my eye.  Black & Gold, with lots of sparkle, I immediately thought it was New Orleans Saints related and that made me love it even more.  No dice, to Brian's disappointment, but it IS cool because it's my Storage Heroes nickname--  "Gold Digger" -- and boy did I earn that nickname on THIS unit!

I present to you, exhibit A:    This bag looked like a bag of trash.  Brian was going to throw it away.  I looked briefly through it and almost concurred, until I realized that there were negatives and photos-- realizing that the tenant actually had all sorts of items in there, I looked through it more thoroughly. It's a good thing I did, because I found our first golden item!

Ahh... now that's what I call dedication!  You gotta do what you gotta do!

Here's what I found:


A pair of 14k gold earrings with 1/4 carat diamonds, that originally retailed for $599.99.  Not too shabby!


I also found this advertisement for iMonk.  I have no idea what it is, but I had to show Brian and take a photo.   Maybe Brian can help extend the iMonk community even further!


Further proof that cell phone boxes in units NEVER, EVER have working cell phones inside them:

See?  Believe us now?
 On the bright side, we did get yet another cell phone charger.  Make this charger #9 that fits our phones.  We have chargers EVERYWHERE!  Not a bad problem to have at all-- especially when you mobile upload 1000 pictures a day!

Another bag, full of designer bags...  there was a designer bedspread from Nautica (the package was empty)

And bags from Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, and Calvin Klein.  At least they were all in amazing shape.


Inside one of the bags I found quite a few Zales boxes, and got really excited, until I realized they were empty:
 This one was a really nice case and would make a great jewelry travel case.

Another empty Zales box:


After 3 or 4 more of these, I finally found one that WASN'T empty:

Some more 14k gold earrings.  We've definitely now paid for our locker and then some, just in gold.


More medical supplies:

Ahh, the standard Crown Royal bag.  I cannot even begin to express to you how many of these we have found.  It's one of the most common Storage locker items behind condoms and fake hair.   We have found to date over 25 Crown Royal bags.  And it's always interesting what people put in them--- typically it's costume jewelry or pennies.  Sometimes even makeup.  I found the other day while reading a book by Nina Garcia (Project Runway Judge and Marie Claire Magazine editor)-- thanks EF--- that she actually recommends that women carry these to put their makeup in while they travel.  Nina-- I think they got the message because they are EVERYWHERE!  Let's see what's in this one...  Any guesses?

Costume jewelry, makeup, AND condoms!  Everything you need for a night out on the town!  Thanks, Crown Royal!

Another random box:
 More paperwork.  At least the bottom was filled with a ton of little girls brand new hair accessories.  Since our tenant did not have a child, I assume that this again was for the dog.  I'm glad I thought they were cute and looked closer, because I did find yet another piece of 14k gold inside this one.

Another seeming bag of garbage:

It contained a bag full of receipts and paperwork (we often see a LOT of the same paperwork-- it's lots of Cash Advance contracts, past-due bills, and traces of the person moving, being sued, writing bad checks, etc.   There are also at least 5 certified letters from OTHER Storage facilities in other states telling her they are going to auction off her things-- you would figure a person would learn at some point!)  Generally these people who pack so haphazardly and have these kinds of papers all over are pretty much the same when it comes to their levels of financial irresponsibility.   What's ironic, is that the people who usually have THIS kind of paperwork, are the same people who have nothing but name brand, expensive, designer stores receipts & boxes & bags inside their lockers.    It gives a whole new meaning to "living beyond your means"---   that Calvin Klein boxers set or Nautica bedspread may have just cost you a couple hundred dollars of jewelry.   It also COULD have lost you your pictures and keepsakes, if we weren't responsible people and returned them like we were supposed to.

It all looks like trash but again, I go through it thoroughly-- they call me "Gold Digger" for a reason...  I sniff out gold and I'm not afraid of digging!

So far nothing but crap...

And a crumpled up old gift bag with tissue paper still inside, that I decide to open up anyway.
 And btw, I shouldn't be admitting this, but I will tell you that I was so tired that it took me about 2 minutes to figure out what S - now meant.  The snowflake is what finally helped me figure it out :)


Good thing I opened it!  A really nice piece of jewelry was inside:
 It's not gold but it does appear to be sterling. And it will do-- it's a nice piece and really beautiful.  Plus it comes with matching earrings.


See the other thing in the picture above?  Nestled in the bottom of the bag, under all the paperwork, was a jewelry box.  Finally!  We'd gotten a couple of pieces of really nice gold and had at least quadrupled our money (not counting the free toys for my dog)... but a little lagniappe (extra, for those of you not from New Orleans)  never hurts anyone!    Upon opening it, I screamed several times for Brian, but it took him 20 minutes to respond.  Turns out he was having a fight with a tenant across the parking lot who was locked out of his storage unit (for failure to pay) and was taking it out on Brian by asserting that he move the vehicle, because we were "blocking his way"  even though a) we were parked at least 5 feet across the roadway from him, and b) he couldn't get into his unit anyway, besides the fact that he was not ready to get anything out of there anyway, but I digress.  Brian eventually came up and looked at our newfound booty:


Some costume jewelry but another couple of solid pieces of 10K and a bunch of sterling and gold plated sterling silver.  All in all, not a bad dig at all!


Recap:
Total Spent:  $75
Which yielded:
*  Gold, silver, and gold-plated silver, totaling probably around $425
*  Medical supplies that we may or may not be able to sell or donate to someone who can use them
*  A few stethoscopes that we will be selling
* Tons of scrubs
* Textbooks
* A brand new wardrobe and toy chest for Lola
* an iMonk advertisement
* and hours of fun!

Not too shabby!

Until next time,

Storage Heroes

Storage Heroes Tip #31:  If a unit is haphazardly packed, it can be good or bad, depending on what you're looking for.  If you want furniture or nice large pieces that you can resell- back away!  You won't find anything good here.  But if you're a true "treasure hunter"-- this is kind of a good sign.  It means that the tenant might not have been able to get in and take out their jewelry, memorabilia, etc-- because they might not have been able to find it in a hurry!  Plus, it may discourage other bidders so you may get a cheaper deal!   Bottom line, haphazardly packed = bad for furniture / electronics / household items,  good for possible jewelry and/or cash.


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