Storage Auctions

Personal items

Personal items
« on: February 19, 2014, 05:41:15 PM »
How do you handle personal items and what do you consider personal?

I normally take pictures, social security cards and some mementos back to the facility to return to the owner. Most mail gets thrown away. I have taken back a box that was saved baby items though I went through it first. I do take pictures  out of frames if the frames are nice. I feel like if I can make money on the item than I paid for it it is mine to do with what I like.

I know of two occasions that the stuff was given back because the managers made a point to let me know how happy the previous owner was to get their stuff back. It makes me feel like I am doing the right thing.

I have talked to several that say they don't waste their time taking personals back. I was just interested in every ones take on how they deal with this stuff. 

Offline Travis

  • *****
  • 5484
  • Every storage unit he buys yields treasure.
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: Personal items
« Reply #1 on: February 19, 2014, 06:50:42 PM »
I give back all personal documents, photos, mail, etc., whenever I process the unit at the facility. However, If I'm paying labor by the hour to load the merchandise, I don't have time to go through the boxes efficiently and some things fall through the cracks. A unit I bought several months ago in Dallas was owned by a martial artist who was a national champion. There were 200-300 trophies in this unit. I was paying some movers by the hour so we loaded everything quickly. I left the trophies in the unit, but when I got home, I found an igloo cooler that had all of his medals inside. Although I felt bad about it, I wasn't about to drive 250 miles to take them back to the storage facility.

I know how it feels to lose a unit. I lost my storage unit when I was 25 and it had almost everything I owned it. The things I regret losing the most are my photos albums and a one eyed teddy bear that was given to me on the day I was born. Other than the obvious things like marriage certificates, diplomas and photos albums, you never really know what was sentimental to the tenant. I usually give back anything that I have a feeling is special to them, unless it's valuable. Obviously, I'm not going to give back grandpa's antique gold pocket watch, but if I see children's art work, birthday cards, etc., I make every effort to give it back.

Oh, and I too take the pictures out of the frames.   ;D

Offline dbr831

  • ****
  • 282
    • View Profile
Re: Personal items
« Reply #2 on: February 23, 2014, 10:07:41 AM »
I try to return photos and personal papers but definitely have my limits regarding how much work I will put into sorting out their personal stuff. If I find a box full of family photos while at the unit then yes it goes back. If I find a packet of photos mixed in with a bunch of junk mail I might just toss it in the dump pile. And, like Travis, I am not driving back to return stuff if it's out of my way. I have held on to stuff for a month to return the next time that site has an auction. I also consider how much care the owner took in storing the stuff. I am more likely to return stuff if it looks like the owners cared enough to pack and label it. Basically if you treat your personal stuff like trash so will I. I had one where the owner was a woman with a 21ish year old son and 2 year old grandchild. The son had recently been killed by police officers in a gang related incident. All the son's stuff from his childhood were in the unit...trophys, school photos, yearbooks...also his baby's toys and baby photos. I really felt for that woman and really went out of my way to give her all of her memories back. I'm pretty sure she was homeless or close to it though so no clue if she had anywhere to put the stuff. 

Re: Personal items
« Reply #3 on: February 23, 2014, 03:18:49 PM »
I hear from a lot of employees at the storage places that probably 90% of that stuff just sits there for 6 months or so and just gets thrown away.......very few people actually come back and pick up their personals.

That being said, I always try to return the pictures and photo albums and diplomas, child support orders, wage garnishments, divorce papers, criminal restitution papers, etc.  And of course any cremains in case they decide they don't want grandma to get tossed in the dump. 

Re: Personal items
« Reply #4 on: February 24, 2014, 12:16:13 PM »
Up in WA, we MUST return all personals. That being said, I return all mail, photos, legal and tax docs, etc.  I also return "baby's first X" and stuff of that nature.

Since I don't travel too far for units, I will always return the items.  I box them up in NEW boxes as well with easy to read labels.  That professionalism paid off in November.  I was called to an auction by the facility manager because not enough people had showed. Shocking, I know!  There was a scheduling snafu so it got almost no publicity.

At any rate, manager thought to call me because I made a good impression on her. The unit I bought there was my "once in a life time unit" that has paid over 200x my $50 purchase.

Moral? I'll keep spring for the 85 cent new boxes from Lowe's!

Re: Personal items
« Reply #5 on: February 24, 2014, 04:06:18 PM »
Thanks guys for the responses. In my area I am one of the few that return personals. I feel that taking the time to return personal things is good karma. There have been a few times that the managers have asked that I not return things for one reason or another but I do return unless asked not to.

Offline rulesforrebels

  • ******
  • 1276
    • Yahoo Instant Messenger - rulesforrebels
    • View Profile
    • Free Storage Auction Lists
    • Email
Re: Personal items
« Reply #6 on: February 27, 2014, 03:44:03 PM »
i used to take time to try to track down owners or give to facility but as others have touched on so few people come pickup their stuff many facilities wont even hold the stuff anymore. i just toss everything now.

Re: Personal items
« Reply #7 on: March 04, 2014, 04:19:22 PM »
I honestly felt bad for the poor fool who lost the first unit I ever bought.  With every unit I buy I feel less and less that way.  The last unit I bought was (at my best guess) a hoarder who'd run out of space and moved on to keeping it in storage units...  I do return personals, but that feeling bad for the poor guy has all but gone away.  Since this guy was such a bad hoarder I went out of my to NOT return too much.  He probably would have said everything was personal.  What I left at the facility was one small box with photos / birth and death certificates. 

I don't think his dead mothers utility bills from the 60's are really all that personal anyway...

I suppose I'm right with the rest of you as far as business practicality goes.  If I can pull it all out in one box that's marked it stays at the unit as I load.  If its harder to figure out what is and isn't worth leaving I sort it as I go through the unit, and it goes back when I'm in the area.

Re: Personal items
« Reply #8 on: March 05, 2014, 05:03:10 AM »
i generally ask the manager if  they want the stuff back , if yes i give it if no i keep it/chuck it

Offline EdwardThirlwall

  • *
  • 17
  • Re-inventing the concept of storage
    • View Profile
    • Storage Facilities Australia
Re: Personal items
« Reply #9 on: March 17, 2014, 04:53:43 AM »
Being a manager in a self storage facility, I can really appreciate the good work that you guys are doing here with this thread. A lot of our customers really don't know what's coming when they lose their units and I can vouch that many of them (even if they forgot they had personal items in there) really do appreciate their stuff from storage being returned to them. So good on you guys!

Returning personal items

Started by Magickalmoon01

15 Replies
Last post March 01, 2012, 06:37:52 PM
by money4nothing
How far will you go to return a tenant's personal or sentimental items?

Started by Travis

8 Replies
Last post December 18, 2014, 08:03:23 PM
by missb76
Another "celebrity" Loses Personal Items to a Storage Auction

Started by MovieMan

0 Replies
Last post March 30, 2013, 10:10:30 PM
by MovieMan
Why do big items sell faster then small items, plus my 2 units recap.

Started by acman

9 Replies
Last post December 12, 2011, 02:03:40 PM
by BigBizzz