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Monday, April 9, 2012

Never Had it Sew Good Part 2 (Seam 2?)

Welcome back!  This is Part 2 of our "Never Had it Sew Good" blog.  If you haven't read Part 1, you can do that here.  Where we last left off, we had just gotten to dig day #5:

There are three possible approaches to buying storage lockers.  You can 1) buy your locker and throw everything away minus one or two valuable pieces (think Barry Weiss on Storage Wars),  you can 2) donate almost everything or just sell it in bulk to wholesalers, which is quick but not maximizing your profits,  or 3) you can invest just a little more time and sell every single item off yourself, regardless of how long it takes.  That's the option we always take, and honestly, I think it's one of the reasons we've been so successful up to now.    This time, we knew we had a lot of a quality product (ie, fabric),  so we took it even a step further, and rather than just selling it off piece by piece, we actually spent a little bit of money on some ziplock bags and spent hours and hours organizing it into packages with price tags.  It was definitely time consuming, and we had to spend a few dollars on supplies (something we never like to do), but it absolutely paid off.

To give you an idea of just how time consuming this particular unit was,  take a look of just some of the boxes of fabric. 

Each box, when you opened it, was not organized-- it would be full of shopping bags full of scraps of fabrics.  That looked something like this:

Or this:

Or like this:

What we would do to start out was to separate the pieces into like piles.  Here is a picture of the floor after a couple of boxes:

Since our tenant was a seamstress, she also had tons of completed garments that people didn't want or didn't pick up, maybe--  lots of bridesmaid and prom dresses:

There was other stuff too...  out of the 70 something boxes, 90% of them were fabric, but every once in awhile there was a box that had other items in it... I always photographed those because they were so novel!  Like this one:

This box had some books and decorations inside of it:

Be Prepared for a Flu Pandemic!

I guess her children or grandchildren must have done homework at her shop because there were quite a few folders full of math homework:

I love folders full of schoolwork because we always find notes, poems, and love letters back and forth from teenagers.   It's one of the best kinds of letters!  Here's a note (although I'm not sure it was meant for an audience) where a girl is describing how she met a boy via My Space... she also then goes on to list all of the good things about him and all of the bad things about him.  Admittedly, I (Rebecca) have done this one too many times myself!

A close-up of the note:

Lots more books and magazines:

This is a particularly important book.  It's also very coincidental that I found this today because I just watched a Celebrity Apprentice where Arsenio Hall won some money for Magic Johnson's AIDS foundation.  Definitely not a laughing matter.

It is interesting though (or disturbing), the note that is written on the inside cover.  An assignment for school, maybe?  A shame that it's unfinished:

More sewing stuff.  In addition to threads, and fabrics, and patterns, and machines, and scissors, and glue, and all sorts of other things crafty, we also found where our lady made things using her skills like shoulder pads, doilies, bean bags, dolls, teddy bears, and those things that you put underneath a warm pan-- what are those called?  I'm pretty sure that's what this was:

There were also these bottle covers, like these:


Most of the home items were in the other unit (the tenant had 2), and we failed to purchase that one just a few days ago.  It went up for auction a full month after this unit.  But, we did have a small handful of household items, including these kitchen utensils that are probably from the 1980s.

Videotapes!  Mostly VHS, no beta, fortunately, although we did find a slide projector!

There were entire file cabinets filled with sewing patterns.  They were EVERYWHERE.   All together, we had over 875 patterns.

A close-up of just one of the drawers of patterns:

The patterns were the one exception to selling things one item at a time.  We've had some recent problems with eBay (see our *%$ eBay post for more information on that), so when a wholesaler showed up 5 minutes into our garage sale and offered us $400 for all of the patterns, it was an offer we couldn't refuse!

More buttons:

We were very interested to see what would be inside this bag/box:

It turned out to be lots of ideas (printed off of the internet) for dresses and things that she wanted to make or that customers wanted to make.  Admittedly, I saved several of these for my own use for later, if someone can ever teach me how to sew!

Admittedly, I'm also going to keep this book!  Not only is it older and very interesting, it might be useful to me as a single lady who has had little luck in the romance department! ;)

Our lady was obviously very talented.  Here are just a few (of thousands of pieces of paper we found)  of her orders!

and her price list for her business:   

It's truly a shame that these things were re-possessed away from her ability to make more money from her family.  I don't know what happened, but I hope she's still sewing.  It breaks my heart when people are talented and not able to use that talent.   Brian and I have since been back to this facility several times, and when we watched her second unit get auctioned off (for way more than we wanted to pay for it) we learned that even though we assembled 12 boxes of personal items for the tenant to pick up, she still hasn't, over a month later.   So, she clearly doesn't want any of these things, or is not able to have them.  

Another bag of fabric:

Take a look at how the fabric pile was increasing!

Lots of purses and bags and shoes and hats as well:

It was also interesting to see someone else's creative process at work. She often packaged fabrics based not on color, texture, or size, but on whatever project she was working on at the time.  She probably wouldn't have had as much fabric go unused had she been a little more organized (all of the pink together, all of the cotton together), for example, but it was pretty cool to see the color combinations that SHE would have chosen, like this one:

Guess what's in the bag?  That's right, more fabric!

They're multiplying!

There were also full bolts of fabric.  These were all used for suits for groomsmen for weddings, I think:

This box was full of what appeared to be old business cards...

And when I say old, I mean OLD...

Not only do some of these places not exist anymore, but some of them I didn't know ever existed, ever! Here's a Mardi Gras Disco called "Mason's Las Vegas Strip" that was right here in New Orleans!

Here's a match book for the same place:

A business card for a Disc Jockey, something you DEFINITELY don't see any more!  And you have to love the name,  Super Soul Tank-- if Brian stops using Captain Trashbag, that might have to be his new nickname!

Ha, the card says it all!

And here are the items we find in almost every storage locker... hair, and Crown Royal bags.  We found over 100 Crown Royal bags in this unit!   They're very handy for storing things, I guess.

Talk about hard work!  At this point we had the unit about 2 weeks and were ready to have our first garage sale, but not before celebrating Brian's birthday at the horse track with some delicious dinner and dessert:

A bag full of polaroids.  It really is a shame just how many photographs we find inside units.

A stack of papers that we of course went through:

Nothing too interesting, except for this really interesting  Texas Longhorn themed wedding or shower:
Notice my green nails for St. Patrick's day!  I'm all about the themed celebrations.  I guess it's maybe a good thing I HAVEN'T been married yet because I may have had some sort of Saints themed celebration.

Speaking of celebration, when I was a Standby contestant for Wheel of Fortune the first time, back in New Orleans, (before I actually was a contestant in Culver City a season later),  I got a really cool "consolation prize" -- a $100 Omaha Steaks giftcard!   I waited and waited to order them, and they finally came!   Check out the order!

Now I have a freezer full of delicious steak!

Okay, now back to our unit.  This is how our finished products looked before our sale:

After most of the work was done, we were left with this, which is still a lot but looked a lot better:

It has since been whittled away even more!  We continue to sell fabric at premium prices (yet still sevely discounted from retail prices)  each weekend at our sale.

Back to digging the last few "miscellaneous boxes"...
These "Last Supper" panels were pretty interesting:

There were also stuffed animals, which made me very happy, 1) because I can give them to my puppy, Lola, but 2) and more importantly, I ride in a Mardi Gras krewe so these are perfect to throw!

This was an actual bag of cotton.  It was in with a bunch of wedding keepsakes (not the Texas wedding, although I guess it's possible)... not sure why she kept this cotton, but here it is!

Closeup of the cotton:

We find lots of interesting and unique books, especially the vintage kind, but this one was one of the best EVER. 
If you can't read the title, it says "MAKING LOVE"

Here are two of the pages from the above book.  They are absolutely hysterical, for so many different reasons.   They are of adult content though, so you'll have to click here and here if you want to see them. 

I also found all of these snazzy purses which was super exciting for me, not only because they are cute, but  because they are PERFECT for parade throws!  I'm a proud member of the Krewe of Nyx, and our signature throw is decorated purses.  These will be so easy to decorate!

Speaking of carnival, there were also some really fun costumes in here!  Costumes for parties, every day wear which just so happened to be from the 70s, so that worked as costumes, and even some outfits that appeared to be made for exotic dancers (including this one).    I had fun trying on several of the costumes:

She also made and bedazzled her own shoes.  Gotta love a woman who bedazzles her own shoes!

All in all, I was particularly happy for the costumes, especially since a party I go to every year, for a great cause, called the Lympho-Maniac Party, was coming up and it is a 70s themed costume party.  There were so many to choose from but I liked this one the best!

Speaking of, Lympho-Maniac is for a great cause because it's to help fight cancer and raise funds and awareness for cancer research and facilities in the area who are involved in the fight against cancer.  It's a great testament to how just a few dedicated people can make a HUGE difference and I'm incredibly proud to have been a Board Member for the past several years.  That's why I was especially saddened to find THIS in the locker:
You know those programs where you can cut points off of a box of cigarettes and turn them in for prizes?  I guess they stopped doing this long ago because people were complaining about, well, lung cancer-- but this lady apparently was a big participant in this program.  We found SHOEBOXES full of thousands of UPCs already cut off of the boxes,  and this bag which contained hundreds of packs that had not been cut up yet.  Here's one of those such bags:

It's easy to get caught up in the personal lives of our tenants and wondering what might have happened to them, but it was time to get back to work.  Here's how things were looking before a sale:

Finally, we had lots of really cute fabric, including some cartoon characters, many vintage like this older Scooby Doo print.   It was all cut up to make... SOMETHING.  But, what shape does this look like to you?

Another view.  Giggle.

All in all, we did great with this unit.  We have a bunch of sewing machines,  a lot of fabric for ourselves (and that have made a significant profit off of),  the patterns,  costumes, some old glassware, and much more.    Remember, we paid $125 for this unit and here (unlike on Storage Wars) are a listing of REALIZED values so far:

 Glass juicer, glassware, and other old collectibles:  $15
Patterns:  $400
Fabrics:  $895
Sewing Machines:  $40
Gold:  $350

That's $1700 and we're not done yet.   Had we wholesaled the entire unit to one or two people, we probably wouldn't have crossed $800.   Don't ever underestimate the value of a little hard work.

Storage Heroes Tip #32  :  Sometimes it's easier and less time consuming to just throw away, donate, or wholesale items in bulk.   But if you can take even just a little bit of effort and clean up, organize, or re-package items, you can increase your profit exponentially.   And why let someone else have YOUR profit?

Until next time,

Storage Heroes


  1. Thanks for the blog and the photos. That was an awesome unit. You guys did a great job. Hard work but the pay off is worth it.

  2. I have just downloaded iStripper, so I can have the sexiest virtual strippers on my taskbar.



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