Storage Auctions

New and a unusual profile for this site...

New and a unusual profile for this site...
« on: August 11, 2012, 06:34:59 AM »
Hi all, my name is Martin.  Not only am I new to 'this world', but also my interest is possibly somewhat different from most of you.  I'm documentary photographer based in Montevideo, Uruguay.  You can see my work in martinhsphoto(dot)com.  I'm interested in documenting the 'phenomenon' of the expansion and usage of self storage space in the US.  I was hoping that you guys who find yourselves bidding on abandoned storage places could educate me a little more about the people who rent, use and eventually abandon their storage lockers.  So I have a few questions that if any of you cares to answer for me, I would truly appreciate it. 

(1) Generally speaking, what do people tend to store in the rented lockers?  Is it 'stuff' they no longer use and don't know what to do with it?  Is it precious items that are safer in this place than in their own homes?  How would you characterize the items generally found in the lockers (not only the abandoned ones)? 

(2) From the little I've seen through the TV shows, it would seem that most of the abandoned lockers have junk that no one really cared for.  If that is generally true, why would someone pay for a space to store it and instead of simply giving it away or discarding it? 

(3) If or when it is valuable stuff that they've stored, when they abandon the space, is it driven by a tough financial situation that prevents them from continuing to pay for the locker?  If that is the case, do you tend to frequently find personal items such as photo albums, kid portraits, school artwork etc? 

I'm trying to understand a bit more about my future photography project 'subjects'.  I guess ultimately I'm trying to understand why some people would go for years paying rent on a space to store items they rarely see, and quite possibly will never use.  So any information or light you can shed about anything that can help me better define who they are, why they rent and how they use the space would be very much appreciate it.  If you know of any resource online that I should be considering, or forums from locker users that I should know, that would also be appreciate it

Thanks a lot and good luck on your future bidding and selling.  Martin.

Re: New and a unusual profile for this site...
« Reply #1 on: August 12, 2012, 03:56:12 PM »
I see quite a few have seen the post but no responses yet.  If any of you had any input you can share with me, I would appreciate it.  Otherwise, no stress and no worries.  Thanks.

Offline MovieMan

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Re: New and a unusual profile for this site...
« Reply #2 on: August 12, 2012, 05:36:03 PM »
Quote from: Tinchohs

(1) Generally speaking, what do people tend to store in the rented lockers?

Usually normal household items including home decor and personal collections.


Is it 'stuff' they no longer use and don't know what to do with it?

Sometimes, yes. [/color]

Is it precious items that are safer in this place than in their own homes?

Sometimes, but that is probably not why they store it there. [/color]

How would you characterize the items generally found in the lockers (not only the abandoned ones)? 

Sometimes, mostly sellable, sometimes, 10% sellable, mostly about 70% sellable. [/color]

(2) From the little I've seen through the TV shows, it would seem that most of the abandoned lockers have junk that no one really cared for.  If that is generally true, why would someone pay for a space to store it and instead of simply giving it away or discarding it?

(1) They think it has value and maybe someday they or someone they know will use it again. (2) They are not too bright.    [/color]

(3) If or when it is valuable stuff that they've stored, when they abandon the space, is it driven by a tough financial situation that prevents them from continuing to pay for the locker?

People don't pay up for the following reasons and there are undoubtedly more reasons as well. (1) no money to pay for it. (2) don't think the stuff is worth paying for. (3) Divorce, jail, death. (4) Forgot (3 months in a row ! [/color]

If that is the case, do you tend to frequently find personal items such as photo albums, kid portraits, school artwork etc? 

Yes, yes, yes and yes. [/color]



Re: New and a unusual profile for this site...
« Reply #3 on: August 12, 2012, 05:52:23 PM »
MovieMan, thanks SO much for your responses.  Very appreciate it. 

Offline Cobia

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Re: New and a unusual profile for this site...
« Reply #4 on: August 13, 2012, 07:34:47 AM »
Movieman sumed it up pretty succinctly. If you haven't been immersed in American culture, the first thing you need to know is we are consumate consumers. 70% of our economy is based on consumer goods, and we are the largest purchasers of consumer goods in the world. It's easy for the avarage American to accumulate more things then they can store in thier house. Sometimes a persons living situation changes and they have to move into a smaller place or sometimes they've run out of space in thier current homes so need for extra storage exists.

Re: New and a unusual profile for this site...
« Reply #5 on: August 13, 2012, 07:50:47 AM »
Cobia, thanks for your comment.  I lived for some time in the US, so I do have a sense consumption society.  Hell, I've been part of it.  As I left the US to live in South America (Uruguay), I became profoundly aware of such dynamics.  Although through the effects of globalization, Uruguay is adopting a similar approach to consumption, it is still very, very far from what I can see in the US. 

What interests me the most about this project is precisely approaching consumption through the view of storage and accumulation.  I want to find people who own a locker and do portraits of them with their belongings. 

Any suggestion on how is the best way to 'reach' these potential subjects?  Is there a way to reach a group of them?  Are any of you area of forums of users of storage lockers?  Or an association? 

Thanks for your help.  m.

Offline Cobia

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Re: New and a unusual profile for this site...
« Reply #6 on: August 13, 2012, 08:24:33 AM »
Cobia, thanks for your comment.  I lived for some time in the US, so I do have a sense consumption society.  Hell, I've been part of it.  As I left the US to live in South America (Uruguay), I became profoundly aware of such dynamics.  Although through the effects of globalization, Uruguay is adopting a similar approach to consumption, it is still very, very far from what I can see in the US. 

What interests me the most about this project is precisely approaching consumption through the view of storage and accumulation.  I want to find people who own a locker and do portraits of them with their belongings. 

Any suggestion on how is the best way to 'reach' these potential subjects?  Is there a way to reach a group of them?  Are any of you area of forums of users of storage lockers?  Or an association? 

Thanks for your help.  m.

Renting a storage unit is not really a sub-culture in the U.S. All types and demographic groups rent storage units. It's kind of like asking to speak to someone who has owned a microwave and to share their experience. There is no ritual, or pride, or community association with renting storage units.

I suppose a forum like this is your best option for finding people to interview.

I would be interesting if you could ask the guy whose unit I just finished sorting why he spent so much money keeping that stuff in storage. 10 x 20 unit, in storage for 16 years. Current value of contents $1000 - $1250. 16 years at $90 per month (assuming 2012 value of money for all years) equals $17,000 spent (in 2012 dollars) to store that stuff.

Yes, people will store garbage and pay for it for years and years. Don't assume a unit that has been in storage for many years means it is definitely full of valuable items.

Re: New and a unusual profile for this site...
« Reply #7 on: August 13, 2012, 08:37:33 AM »
Good points you bring up Cobia. 

The story you just shared is what sparks my curiosity.  It's crazy when you think about it.  And it makes me wonder if the story behind is consumption or if it has more to do with hoarding.  If it's true my perception that most of this places don't have valuable, well preserved items, but rather old, abandoned 'junk' (generalizing), perhaps it's more about the difficulty of letting go than the lack of space to keep buying new stuff. 

Makes me think...

Re: New and a unusual profile for this site...
« Reply #8 on: August 13, 2012, 09:36:11 AM »
My personal opinion is that...
1) They can't add.  I can't tell you how many peoples' "rent-to-own" furniture statements and HUGE cable tv bills I have found in storage lockers.
2) People that come from 3rd world countries or a poorer culture store stuff when moving...their lockers are usually 2% sellable.  Most of them you still find the yard sale tape with prices on the items.  These people can generally add.  Most of the time you find where they were denied permanent residence or something to that effect and then have to go back.
3) Garage overflow.  Too much stuff in the garage and they have to have someplace to put it.  Again...these people can't add.  The stuff is generally broken.  To me its valuable because it is generally high quality, I fix it up, and resell it.  Takes a ton of work though.
4) Someone died.  These are very interesting units...some profitable some not.  But they are a snapshot of history.  You find some amazing things in them...mostly all personal.
5) Shame material.  Advanced collections of p0rn.

...I would be interested in the profile of people who don't default on storage units.

Offline MovieMan

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Re: New and a unusual profile for this site...
« Reply #9 on: August 13, 2012, 10:29:45 AM »


What interests me the most about this project is precisely approaching consumption through the view of storage and accumulation.  I want to find people who own a locker and do portraits of them with their belongings. 

Any suggestion on how is the best way to 'reach' these potential subjects?  Is there a way to reach a group of them? 

This is the toughest part of your project. I guess you could go to  storage facilities (in a major city, NY, Chicago, LA) and talk to managers to see if they would give some of their customers your name and number to call.  There are bound to be some who would like to show off their mounds of stuff and be photographed among it.

These folks probably aren't the kinds of "hoarders" seen in a couple of popular tv shows, but maybe just a step or two below that.

I doubt there is a forum (or section of one) dedicated to the proposition "I buy and store a lot of stuff".

Good luck with your project, and when published just post here and I'll give you my shipping address so I can add your book to MY collection of stuff.

Re: New and a unusual profile for this site...
« Reply #10 on: August 13, 2012, 07:11:09 PM »
I'll keep you posted.  Thanks all for your input.  It helps a lot.  m.

Offline money4nothing

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Re: New and a unusual profile for this site...
« Reply #11 on: August 18, 2012, 03:48:06 PM »
Well Tinchohs sounds like an interesting project.

most of the other members have covered the basics.

I can throw a few Why people store stuff.

1) After a major weather event ie: hurricane, flooding, tornado. have to salvage what they can and stick in storage. May never fully recover from the loss and loose the storage.

2) beauzero "they can't add"  Did not think they were going to get evicted from their house/apartment. So move fast can store everything cheap and move back in with parents. And just like their house/apartment rent can't pay the storage rent.

3) then the mental side. Personal experience. Sister went through a terrible divorce. There was a 10 page list of what she could not take out of the house she lived in for 20 years. Add on top of that she was battling a mental disease. I had to help put what she wanted into storage. It was just shut up and put it in the truck. It helped her cope. Now the stuff has been in storage for 4 years. Not worth what she has paid for it.  The mental thing is a lot better' but now it is financially hard to go clean it out. I will add too she is an artist, so a lot of personal possessions.

4) My aunt is a hoarder had a unit for 15 years. She did not loose it but I saw what she got out of it a bunch of junk and she thinks it is worth what she paid for it years ago.

Just some insight of why people rent storage lockers.

Good luck with your research.

Re: New and a unusual profile for this site...
« Reply #12 on: August 18, 2012, 04:29:06 PM »
another few reasons people put stuff into storage

someone died and relatives stick the stuff into storage untill the can go through it


he puts her out or she puts him out , tells them their stuff is in storage and if they want it to go pay the rent on it ( ;D i love these units)

a small business is storing their whatever and the owner has financial , medical or prison problems

landlord evicts tenant and puts their stuff into storage , again tells them you want it you pay for it

people running from their landlord packing their crap up in the middle of the night , putting it in storage and living with relatives

people who know they are going away for a while , prison, hospital etc and whoever they trusted to pay  the rent doesnt

people who move a great distance and wind up buying duplicate crap wherever they wound up


Re: New and a unusual profile for this site...
« Reply #13 on: August 18, 2012, 04:42:18 PM »
Fred, thanks SO much.  I appreciate it.  WIth what I've gotten here and some more research I continue to learn more and more about the project.  Thanks so much.  m.

Re: New and a unusual profile for this site...
« Reply #14 on: August 31, 2012, 06:57:52 AM »
All of your questions have been answered in a number of different topics/threads on the site.  That and Movieman covered it all also.

As for the demographics of who stores items and why.  Well that is as varied as the different colors of leaves in the fall.

Many people in large cities that rent an apartment don't have room to store summer/winter or seasonal items and thus rents.  College kids store the dorm furniture/items during the summer in a unit.  Or as people say just have too much stuff, relative dies and they store stuff, etc.  After doing this for any length of time what all people store just starts to make you go HMMMMMMMM.


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