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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Guest Blog #3: Oh, Rats!

Hey guys!    Rebecca here, with something from another guest blogger today-- Francine is one of our loyal readers and we see her from time to time commenting on our blog, on Facebook, or on the networking sites like StorageTreasures... and after reading her tale from the other day, we had to convince her to let us share this one with you.   She purchased her first ever unit, and unlike Sean and Rachel who submitted Guest Blog #2 about their first unit, she had a harrowing experience.  Here's her story:


Happy Monday all. I would like to share my recent experience as a "Newbie". I would like to preface this with a couple of facts. #1, no part of this story is an exaggeration, #2, this is not attempt to discourage anyone from experiencing this business, it is just a different aspect of the "reality" of the reality shows that we have all been watching.

What it's like to be in storage locker hell......for those of you who, after watching the reality shows, Storage Wars, Auction Hunters and Storage Hunters and feel that adrenaline rush and think it's an awesome and fun business. I'm here to tell you, think again my friends. There is another side to the business that is not shown on the reality shows. Not because they want to be deceiving. It's because thats not what the shows are about. The shows are to show you the good, the treasures, the finds, the fun and most of all, the profit. It's what comes after thats the real "reality". So, here is what my reality was. I'm going to try to make a very long story, a little shorter: This past month I previewed approximately 40 lockers. I thought they were all crap, after all I read and researched and learned. We finally purchased a locker last week that looked awesome at the threshold. Major score, so we thought. The locker was either a 10x20 or 10x30, not sure, don't care. We got it for $475. After a quick preview, we decided not to go higher than $500, although we felt there was way more value in there, we knew we would have to rent a truck so we included that in our "bottom line". What we saw at the threshold was several antique pieces of furniture and a collection of at least 5000 baseball cards, mostly in plastic sleeves. We also saw many collectible dolls, still in boxes. Can't begin to tell you how excited we were, until......we got inside the locker.

The locker was rat infested, rat droppings and rat urine everywhere, on every single item. In my 53 years of life, this was the most disgusting environment I have ever been in. The facility acknowledged that they knew a few lockers in this row had this problem, thus, they gave us the locker without charging us extra, for 3 days to clean it out. How nice of between vomiting episodes, we did find a diamond ring, foreign money and many many items that will bring us plenty of profit in the end. We rented a 20 foot UHAUL truck for 2 days. Because of the rat infestation, most of what we found had to be brought to the dump. After weigh in...... 3 1/2 tons of garbage = $70.00 at the dump. The physical labor involved is more than my husband and I have ever worked in our lives. Newbie lessons, we will never buy a locker that size, when evaluating a unit, I will look for rat droppings FIRST, that is, IF I EVER DO THIS AGAIN. I will be in recovery for a very long time (lol). We were wearing masks part of the time, but not the whole time because we didn't have them with us. By the way, the facility has a 24 hour video surveillance and they knew I was vomiting. Thats why they gave us 3 full days without extra charge. This has to be against every health environmental law there is. I soooo wanted to abandon this locker but I didn't want to be banned from further auctions. Not that I EVER want to do this again, lol.

Oh, another important note, after getting inside the locker, we found out the locker was partially commercial and partially household items. The former tenant owned a cheap dollar type store. There must have been hundreds of chewed through vitamin C bottles. Very healthy rats.....But that was the the reason for so much garbage. Boxes and boxes, all falling apart, of stuff from the cheap store they had. It was unfortunate because if those items were not dripping from rat urine, those items could have been resold at a garage sale, swap meet, etc. A total waste.

Like a woman giving birth naturally, she swears she will never have another child. Then a year or so later she forgets that awful experience and does have more children. Perhaps down the road, after i'm done processing this unit, earn my money and complete recovery (lol), i'll consider "having" another unit.

But for now, this newbie will sit back and enjoy watching Hester bid up Darrell, Nabilla intimidate all of them, Brandi and Jarrod tick eachother off and Barry just doing his thing. Allen and Ton are great and I so wish I could score a unit like they do. Lori and Brandon, you two work hard, keep at it, you did great in the finale. I have a newfound respect for all of you


Storage Heroes Tip #32:  Talk to facility managers and employees WHENEVER possible.  Ask them about their day, make small talk, whatever.  Not only is it the friendly thing to do (and assures that they will ALWAYS remember you in a positive way), but you can use the small talk to find out valuable things about the units.   Just asking "How has it been going?"  may yield an answer like "oh, man, our elevator is broken AGAIN"  or "We have a huge rat infestation problem."   If you're really bold, you can even start asking questions about tenants that are up for auction like "Oh wow, it seems like the stuff advertised in unit #14 was antique-- was she an older lady?"  --  just a statement like that can open up a huge story.   I can't tell you how many times a frustrated facility manager has told me a half an hour story about how the tenant has cursed them out, sent their brother-in-law to pay, has a drug problem, you get the idea.   

Storage Heroes Tip #58:  Storage units are like anything else--  if at first you don't succeed, try, try again.   But learn from your mistakes!  

Our thanks again to Francine for her story, and for being a loyal reader.  If you appreciated her story and would like to read more from her, you can find her Facebook page at:  LadyLocks58  
Her story is a true nightmare, but what's important to note here is that she WAS more prepared than most of the "newbies" we encounter-- she did go to several auctions before hand,  studied, considered expenses like moving trucks, and factored in time, yet she still had some problems.  This is a tough industry for sure, we definitely know that-- and every once in awhile you have the TRUE horror stories, but you just have to hang in there-   the success stories come after patience, hard-work, and a little bit of good old-fashioned luck or intuition.      The only thing we can say maybe she should have done differently was to start off with a smaller unit--  WE barely ever tackle a 10 X 20 or 10 X 30, they're just unmanageable in the time given, usually.   I couldn't imagine doing one of those as a very first locker!   Our first 5-10 lockers were 5X10s, 10X10s, and a couple of little 3X3s.   It was really nice to have a variety, but have tiny manageable lockers, until we got into our loading / processing / sorting groove.  So...  start small, and be prepared for anything!  And above all, if you don't like this industry, you'll find out right away-- but if you do, don't let anything discourage you.  Unless of course you are bidding against Brian and I!  ;)

Until next time,

Storage Heroes


  1. Great tips Rebecca and Brian. Who says size doesn't matter. lol.

  2. Francine, sorry to hear about your bad luck. You are so right in the fact that the shows only show the good side of the units. Very smart to factor in "All" costs, something that most people forget. it did sound like that as bad as everything was, you did make a little money on the unit, thats always nice. I tell people all the time is money, so i have to make enough to pay myself. I hope you come back out and take another shot, it can be fun!!!

    Locker Looter



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