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Topics - greywar

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Reading this....a auction buyer won a storage unit, took it all home, then while going through it found child porn.  Reported it to the police, and is now in jail.

Theres a TON of missing details though.  hopefully some of them will come out as this develops.

General Storage Auction Talk / Contacting the owners of lockers
« on: July 09, 2013, 07:44:55 PM »
So I decided to contact the owners of a locker to see how it would go.  Overall pretty well!  And...worth it I think.  So this is how and why:

1. I use a Google voice number.  Not linked to me or anything I do.  This is my "i am going to talk to potentially bad people" number.

2. I'm polite, explain I've lost my own locker before, and tell them I went through and got a bunch of their photos out-and left them with the storage facility for them to retrieve free of charge, and ask if there was anything they might want that has personal value that isn't a photo etc.

3. I don't call voice, I do this through text messages.


Well to be honest...Karma.  90% of people dont KNOW they get their pictures back. sometimes tells me things I didn't know.  For example if they ask for a item back, investigating it has revealed that the $2 item is actually a $400 item.  Yes that item your grandfather gave you before he died is of immense personal value to you.....uh huh. 

On the other hand...that cast that has a signature of your deceased husband on it for your daughter whose dad passed away?  Yeah I can arrange for that to be given back by adding it to the box at the facility.

So far most people have been very appreciative surprisingly enough.  I'm still never meeting them in person.

General Storage Auction Talk / finding peoples wallets
« on: July 09, 2013, 07:34:48 PM »
So in a locker we got from people who spent a lot of time incarcerated we find wallets.  Several complete wallets, ID credit cards etc.  None of the names match the contents.  Now yes I know, lots of you would just toss them and forget about it.  But I was curious.

So I tried taking them to the police.  "Where did you find them?"  In a locker in a city 40 miles away "Take them there, or contact the owners".  Really? 

So I hunt down a owner curious to the story.  She had lost it a year ago, asked me to shred it.  So shredding away.  Ditto for the second one.  And the third one. 

pick pockets?  Or just casual theft of wallets?  I will never know...

General Storage Auction Talk / louis vuitton bag..and..its how much?
« on: July 09, 2013, 07:30:52 PM »
So I'm showing my wife some collectables I found in a handbag.  She sees the handbag and is all excited.  What?  Its just a bag, wait til you see whats inside!

Shes not impressed by the contents.  the bag however...

WTH is wrong with people?  This bag is apparently worth some money-couple hundred!  Even more perturbing is discussing it with a friend....I learn my friend owns a bag....she paid 19K for it....on Sale!  She got it instead of a engagement ring. 

What the heck is wrong with humanity that anyone would pay that much for a handbag?  Even worse...the 19K white....she takes it out about once a year.

Even the one we found doesn't look THAT special.  Yes everything on its perfect, the stitching is perfect, etc...but still...its just a hand bag!  And its not even great bragging rights as you have to look closely to see the name on the buttons. 

My mind boggles.  On the other hand...we've also ran into some truly truly expensive clothing as well.  Even used some of its going for 100+

Then theres me.  A $8 shirt, $30 pants, $30 wallet, $50 wedding ring (titanium carbide-amazon sells for abut $50 jewelry shops $500....same ring), $120 shoes (I do spend on shoes as the really good ones aren't cheap-but oh so worth it).  And $300 glasses (Bendable!).  The things I spend money on I spend for their usage.  I cant imagine spending 19K....for a brand name.  Really?

Lockers are a fascinating insight into humanity.

General Storage Auction Talk / 4 degrees of seperation
« on: July 02, 2013, 02:21:55 PM »
I live in a metropolitan area, so I tend not to know the people whose lockers i am buying.  But that being this day of everyone having a online presence its not hard to find them. 

I bring up her Facebook, no mutual friends.  OK.  I bring up her friends list...2 people have a mutual friend with me.  So she is a friends, friends friend.  4 degrees of separation.  And the thing I realize is....I need to be a LOT more circumspect about buying lockers on my facebook page.  It wouldn't be that hard for these people to find out about me through that as a result of others talking about it.....  And lets be honest here....some of these people losing their lockers are great kind people.....others......well I've read their jail correspondence, and their letters from before they went to jail.  In some cases I've read their psychological reports they sent to the judge!  Not people I want finding me.

Stories about Storage Auctions / The crossbow that wasnt
« on: July 02, 2013, 02:00:42 PM »
Not my find, but a fellow auctioneer.  We had passed on the unit, but noticed something that looked like a crossbow wrapped in a garbage sack, and then taped up.  The other person had grabbed it, and took it with them when they went to pay for the unit.  We were all curious!  What kind of person wraps up a crossbow?  Is it that old?  That awesome?

So we were chatting, and they decided hey lets unwrap it and look.  Things of course go downhill from here.  First off...its a cross made out of cheap wood with RIP written on it.  But wait!  Theres more!

Then the smell....the ungodly smell.  That made you realize that...there may be more then just the cross inside. 

Stores / Idea to sell the unsellable crt and vhs
« on: July 01, 2013, 02:26:52 PM »
So we had a thought....

No one buys CRT TV's, or VCR and VHS tapes.  But we found a good combination that were going to try.

1 CRT tv
40 VHS tapes....all animated and kid stuff.

Sell it as "Recover your TV from the kids" and put $20 on it. 

Think it will sell? 

General Storage Auction Talk / Dead body in a locker was almost us
« on: July 01, 2013, 02:17:22 PM »
We bought two lockers this weekend, not really thinking about the heat that was coming up....I mean hey they were 10x5's, stuffed pretty good on one of them, but still....just 10x5's.

I think we almost both died.

90 degrees outside...hey no problem.  100 degrees as we enter the door....hmmm...ok this is not fun.  110 degrees as we hit the top of the stairs.  OK this is BAD.  REALLY bad.  Then the realization that....theres no elevator in this building.

1/3 of the way through we are sweating hard.  I mean REALLY hard.

2/3 of the way through, we're both a bit punch drunk.  Having some issues.  And we've drank all of the water we had with. 

Done....almost passed out in the locker.  Wife wasnt doing any better.  We're both panting like we ran a marathon just moving a box.  The heat was kicking us all over.  In retrospective....we should have just said forget it, and finished up the next day, or left and got water, but we were worried about moving the second locker, and finishing before gate close.  No joke...this could have gone a lot worse then we had considered.  We haven't sweated so much since we went to boot camp.

Unloading was fine....1 am at our shop, no stairs, and we had water.  Drunk guy hassled us for a ride home after he missed the last bus.  But no issues.  Just tired from earlier.

So lesson learned...second locker the next day.
We brought a ton of water.  This was still 110, another second story locker, and a some work. 

Water makes all the difference.  A cooler full of ice and water bottles.  It can save your life in this weather.

So a 12x36 unit...PACKED 10 feet high completely full.

Its a complete haunted house setup. 


We went to the auctions today, and...the unit has a haunted house build in it.  No one wanted it.  Finally the auctioneer said...ok look if anyone wants it...$50.  My wife went for it. 

This is a bad sign Im thinking.  NO ONE WANTS THIS HUGE AMOUNT OF STUFF....not even for $50.

And I can kinda see why Its TONS of work.  Literally there is tons of stuff here!

BUT....Theres display cases, tables, tons of stuff we can use in the shop that I can see! going to pass because...Its just too much stuff right now.  My wife however has different ideas.

So....we own everything needed to setup a haunted house.  3,600 cubic feet of stuff!  Looking online I find a website for these things, apparently they are big business, and can go for thousands of dollars.  We moved some stuff just to try and see...and...theres a stack of wrought iron fence 10 feet high, wallboards two stacks 10' high.  A patient chair (online selling for $600 on ebay), there...well..theres literally tons of stuff.  two projector screens, and sooo much more.  but...we cant get too deep into it.  We've had to rent the unit because its just too much storage. 

We literally cannot see 2/3rds of whats in it.

Its crazy.  Soo...wifes going to try and sell it.

Outlay:  $50 to buy the unit, $310 to rent it.  I really cant see us losing money even if we part everything out.  But theres some serious value here.  And...we dont even know what 2/3rds of what is in the unit.

Some guys going to cry when he sees we paid $50 for this.

So I live in a large metropolitan area, and saw a Saturday auction in a town about an hour away.  I figured hey why not, another opportunity for me and my wife to take my daughter to one.

Wow.  Just Wow.  about a dozen people, so a lot less then I expected.  Some comments were made that my wife overheard saying that we were basically there because of the shows, and were going to overbid etc.  I advised her to ignore them.  I suspect it was caused because I accidentally put my badge on from work this morning.  LOL.  Apparently they assumed anyone working at Intel has more money then sense. 

Anyways I learned that the prior auction only had one person show up so they cancelled it.  3 units out of the 6 advertised were up for auction.

1st one...a older stove, a small tv (not flatscreen), and a big box, marked with $100 that appeared to be for a crib.  sold for like $20.  With the distance from home this wasn't worthwhile for us to bid on.

2nd one...and the DRAMA!  smaller unit, owned by the same person as the 3rd locker, but being sold separate.  So as its being shown, a couple commented it was a staged unit and got overheard by the manager.  Claimed they had been there last auction and this unit had been up for sale, but had been cancelled by the manager who was running the auction because the owner had paid.  The manager took exception to this, some words were exchanged, and she banned them from the auction and told them to not come back ever. 

Now...was it staged?  Only if the person staging it was dumb.  *I* didn't see anything.  This was a mistake as I later learned, wife said some of the statues in the front on the floor were worth some bucks, but didn't bid because she thought I knew.  So-some discussion afterwards led us to the decision we would bid to the highest either of us thought, not the lowest in case one of us saw something the other didn't.  We shall see how that goes.  This would have gone home with us if my wife had continued the bidding.  ended up going for under 50 I think.

So manager is upset and almost crying, and as she calmed down we went to the next one.

Now this one...10x20 I think?  Saw some older furniture, LOTS of stuff.  Some of it worth some money.  we figured about 1K (more if we would have been located closer).  Its dusty as well, been in storage for a long time.  We can see a grandfather clock in the back, but some suspicion it was not mechanical.  we took it up a couple hundred, then got to watch two local folks go up.  at 700 the one guy says "you're gonna get this cause you want the clock, but I am going to make you pay for it".  Really?  The other bidder just kept going up.  Went past our limit near the end.  Sold for a little over 1,000

So we walked away with nothing, some regret on not taking the second locker. 

Lessons learned:  Daughter learned to NOT say numbers discussing price during the bidding as I told her afterwards that that was a bad plan.  lol. 

I learned I talk too loud when discussing units with wife.

We learned we're better off going to the max that either of us thinks rather then the minimum.  Obviously more discussions will occur as we decide the best method. 

But WTH?  all the auctions I have attended here in the city are all pretty polite, no obvious bidding up of other people, etc,  this place, had bannings, people crying, and some pretty obviously stated bid up.  Wow.  They've watched too much storage wars.  What funny is...that was their comment towards me when I showed up.  what the heck?

So...yeah this has been way too much fun buying and selling stuff.  Soooo...

Time to step it up a notch.
1. I'm not quitting my day job.  I make way too much money at it (6 figures).  Plus this wont make a ton of money ever.
2. My wife however is not currently employed.  And if I were to be laid off it could make a good supplemental income until a new job was found.

Now I've looked at this, thought about it, and have come to some conclusions:
Filling a store with this sounds pretty good, but the overhead will brutalize you, and it will be unprofitable for a long time. 
Similar issue with getting warehouse space.  Although it IS doable.  Its more doable if you start from a large running amount of stuff.

So...2 paths are open I think.
I can rent a smallish warehouse space, and she can buy lots of lockers and fill it.
I can find a self storage that will let em run a business out of a storage unit.  Say a 10x30 or so. 

If we go the storage unit route I need to get:
1. A storage unit that running a business like this out of is allowed.
2. Shelves (possible to find in a storage unit auction, but I might just buy so its all uniform)
3. Tubs (see #2-I still might buy my own for the uniformity)
4. A box truck.  Uhaul sells those for $2,500-anyone have any experience with these trucks?

The idea the racks in the storage unit like two upside down U's for a total of 6 racks.  They hold 3 layers, of 5 tubs each.  I've done this in my garage and it works very well.  Buy the 90 tubs for them, and label them all.  Place this in the back of the unit, facing forward.  on the Right side attach white sheets to cover the sides and front for a oversized white box to take pictures inside of, while still maintaining the usage of the shelves.

The front of the unit will have 3 areas, from left to right each separated by tape marks on the floor: garbage run stuff, sorting stuff, and keeping stuff.  This allows my wife to sort it all as she unloads it into the middle, then we can do a dump run with stuff on the left. 

1. win more lockers!  (yay)
2. Move stuff to the storage unit from the won locker, marking boxes with a marker as we load them (thus we can tell which locker boxes came from so we can return personal items correctly, and track profit/loss on wins.
3. unload, and sort using the areas mentioned above.
4. make a garbage run.
5. take pictures of items, and list them on craigslist, ebay, or for consignment as appropriate.
6. Record which plastic tub they are placed in.  If too large they just go in between the shelving
7. Ship purchases out and record their removal from the tracking system.

I can use existing software, or write my own.  I could use barcodes and my scanners if I wanted to for adding/removing things, but I am not sure it is worth the effort. 

Any thoughts on this?  Is the storage unit a feasible way, or is it just too small? 

The warehouse idea is very attractive, but it brings monthly costs up a lot.  On the other hand, its larger, AND has a bathroom and office.  I CAN afford to own one without making any profit.  But of course we plan on doing better then that.  I am hesitant on it though because...the more units I buy, the more likely I am going to be to overpay for some.  So more work, but smaller profit margin.  Other side is it provides a good place to have people come to pick things up.

Anyways any feedback from folks?

General Storage Auction Talk / Cell phones are fascinating
« on: May 15, 2013, 10:58:29 PM »
So in our $50 stoner unit We've discovered two cell phones.  (I call it the stoner unit because of the 12K or so of empty medical marijuana bags).  Both power up, metropcs, and cricket pay as you go phones.  So..

phone 1, pictures of his extremely large grow operation.  Various women-some of them with surprising assets shall we say.  But no text msgs stored.  Trying to reset it...asks for security code....1234 nope.  1111 nope, 000, nope.  hmmm....looking at the contacts he has one labeled "my number"  last 4 digits of that...success.  cleared phone for the yard sale.

Next phone...older one, some pics, mostly boring.  Text messages though.  "wanders"....he paid child support, can track the last couple months before it all went to storage and why.  I'm thinking cell phones are replacing diaries for fascinating reading.  He was dealing pot it looks like, not making a lot, just here and there.  paying bills, living out of a motel.  Paid some towards his child support, so bonus points to the guy from me.  Makes me happy I spent so much time getting all of his pictures back to uhaul, hope they catch up with him. 

I think cell phones will be my new favorite find.  Computers might be fun too.  (My regular job is at Intel doing automated software QA stuff for motherboards). 

General Storage Auction Talk / What about Sundays?
« on: May 15, 2013, 11:22:22 AM »
So Saturdays are doomed apparently, but oddly enough we have a Sunday caravan auction scheduled.  Starts at 10 am.  On one hand it's a weekend thing, on the other hand if you're the church going type it would conflict (and while I'm not I think someone who believes that way shouldn't ditch church).  Anyone seen what occurs on Sunday auctions?

General Storage Auction Talk / My first 2 auctions, and 2 lockers
« on: May 13, 2013, 06:20:24 PM »
Posted this elsewhere, but its pretty dead.  Soo..figured I would move here.

OK So I decided it would be fun to get my daughter into a side business to make money with since she seems very interested in making money. Plus this is a good way to illustrate the difference between TV and reality (she hasn't seen the show-I want to find some units, and show her the work involved so that she can watch the show and scoff at it). And...well..if nothing else it would be a fun family thing to do together. So I found a upcoming auction scheduled for today, sadly only one storage unit being offered. We brought Cash, and supplies if we won it. So..lets look at what we can see.

This is a VERY small unit. Good news is, we could fit it all in my car if we wanted to!

In the back-some sort of pool. Probably functional or fixable. But its taking up a big chunk of the unit (its a tiny tiny unit).

Then up front....OMG an ALIENWARE Laptop! Now my daughter was excited by this (as was I for a second..then I realized....) Who puts a extremely high end laptop like that in a storage facility....the answer is...anyone investing in something like that wouldn't store it there. They would keep it with was broken. That being said...good chance we could fix it. has some value-but not whats assumed by first glance. Me and my daughter discussed this a lot.

Then the statue - thats actually kinda cool.

The wooden chest. woooo buried treasure Argh!

4 tubs o randomness (in the crack of one daughter says she could see the edge of a blanket).

A nice picture of a big cat and a lady I think..

And..misc stuff.

Soo what does this scream? Setup. A setup is where either the person who owns the unit, or the storage managers put everything cool where it can be seen.  But hey you folks probably know this.... And as I am standing there thinking this, I believe I overhear the manager telling one of the bidders who is a friend apparently (quietly) that she had let the tenant go in and buy some of the stuff in advance "Gotta make back the money somehow" was the quote I think. This tells me that the bid is...well..lets be honest, kinda rigged. Keep in mind anything over whats owed that the unit goes for is refunded to the tenant-so the tenant has reason to stage the unit as well. Ethical managers would NOT do this sort of thing I suspect. And this auction is ran by the manager, not a licensed auctioneer. I will probably not return, or always bid lower there.

So what to set my bid limit at. I was thinking 125-175. mostly cause while the alienware is a older one I think (and probably broken)...they're still very powerful machines, and I have good odds of fixing it myself unlike most people, also I like the chest itself. I know..its ugly....but its a ugly *I* like, and we could do something with. And the statue... The pool may have some resale value, but I doubt it. Then I decided...I'd add on $ for just the fun/learning factor for my daughter (losing money is a acceptable lesson here..well to a point), So normally 125-175, but learning factor to 225 (and the "didn't make any money level" I think at 225). The bid started at 150 and I bid it, a few seconds pass..then its 175, I hit 200, then it goes 225...and proceeded all the way up to 325 $25 at a time. Wow. There is NO way there's $325 worth of stuff there. At $225 I figured it was a complete wash, and at $100-150 I figured it would make a tiny bit of profit for the work involved. I had the cash to win this if I wanted-I just didn't want that expensive of a lesson!

So the lessons today for my daughter was:
pick a number, dont go beyond it. Let others lose money.
Don't get excited by whats visible, think about WHY its there, and why its visible
Pay attention to everyone around you (especially the manager and the auctioneer). And...remember places like this. If you return because its slow some day, bid low.

The end of the auction was kinda cool, as one of the other bidders and my daughter had chatted and she had admired the ladys earrings, she gave them to my daughter! Yay! A profitable auction, both in learning, and in getting something for just being nice to others.

Second Auctions...and first wins.

OK this time unfortunately I could not bring my daughter as she had school. But some real standouts of this next experience:
It was during a weekday, and the serious bidders were there. Even better was it was a caravan type auction. This one by Uhaul. I didn't see anything that looked staged at all, and they had a local auctioneer running them. This was a VAST improvement. Most folks were friendly, but not chatty.

The first location had one unit, and it was a pretty full unit. I wasn't prepared to move a unit this size, and I could see about $600 for it. I decided to bid up to 300 (which would have been a steal) quickly went up to 725 as I recall. Given how close this was to my home I kind of regret not going all in, but I picked a number and stuck with it.

Second location was about 15 miles away. First locker opened up to...a dryer, a nice looking table, 5 tubs, and a couple mattresses. Looking at it...The mattresses looked like a dump run, the dryer was worth $40 (sell ti for $80 I figured) to the bid, the table though...I wanted that for me. It was in OK shape..and was worth $50 to me, so $90, then $5 for each tub I figured ($25 total). Mattresses drop -30 each for -60 I was going to go for this at 55. Started at 100, dropped to 75...50....and just as I said "50!" it dropped to 25. DOH bid myself up! A mistake I wont make again. I won't verbalize the amount unless I intend to go up higher then the auctioneer is stating. I got it at $50, one of the other bidders told me they would have bid it at 25, so not too badly. but still felt foolish. Locked it up with the lock I had brought and went on.

Next unit was another full one, I bid up to $350 and then bailed out-it hit 450-550 ish. Again same reasoning as before, but I was willing to go a bit higher since I already had a unit at this facility.

Final unit opened up, had a couch in the back...a BIG couch. I am amazed it fit in the unit, let alone that they had gotten it in. A decent book shelf, some cardboard shelving, a couple boxes, one with a plastic case,and a hardwood floor washer. So...$50 for the couch (couldn't tell if it was ripped or not, what condition, etc. really), $40 for the bookshelf as I had a need for one-so that was for me, so I was willing to go to $90. It went down to 25...where I bid and got it. Some of the regulars asked me if they could see what was in the mystery case, I obliged them, it was a pretty nice hair cutting kit. I figure $10 at the yard sale.

So how did we do?
The table turned out to be in better shape then I expected, but REALLY heavy. Replaced our old beat up kitchen table.
The couch....oh was bad. REALLY REALLY bad. Owners had a small dog or cat that pooped inside of it (ie inside the fabric cover), and it smelled. It smelled BAD. Gloves were worn. Did rip open the bottom to see what made the noises when we tossed it, and found a nice lighter. Was hoping for change. Trash (-30)
Couple chairs we might keep, dunno our kids are kinda tough on them.
The mattresses as expected are going to the garbage, unexpectedly there was an additional one...thats in perfect condition, and could be sold. No idea if those sell, but if it can be sold it will.
There were empty bags that used to contain pot, prices indicate about $10K+ worth of pot. Medical grade. I have no idea what I could do with that here in Oregon if it had contained anything. (medical usage is legal, could I sell it to a dispensary? No idea....most likely garbage-its still a federal crime)
Unexpectedly...Jewelry! It looks like we found our first gold! Gold necklace marked as 14kt, heavy. Ordered a inexpensive gold testing kit and will know later.
A watch, new was $600, The minute hand doesn't move, second hand does. might take it to a shop, and estimate repair costs, sell it for $100 ish. Probably make $30. Dunno. Might keep it if it is repairable. Its a Seiko Kinetic platinum, VERY cool watch.
Sculpture from Hawaii, from a well known Hawaiian sculptor that used coral and resin. $30.
A Hawaiian sculpture thats supposedly for fertility thats...kinda....horrible. Evil gift to friends getting married (priceless)
Lots of misc jewelry and watches I haven't valued yet. About a pounds worth. Also some odd looking metal boxes for jewelry. Theyre ugly. WTH? More research is needed.
2 collectable dolls in their original boxes ($50)
2 boxes of personal items (one box filled with family albums) returned (cost of $8 in gas, but hopefully will get to owner...10% some sadness there)
The book case turned out to be in perfect shape, and is in my office.
The hair cutting kit $10
The hardwood floor cleaner $20 if it works...might keep it. This isn't a industrial one.
Cell phone (old-but worth $5 at a yard sale, the stored texts were fascinating reads)

Overall this one was a huge score for junk units that I had gotten because some specific item was going to me. For a junk units I did EXTREMELY well. Also VERY apparent that UHaul is a good place for auctions.

My thoughts on the ones I didn't get-they went for reasonable prices I think. Profitable for the people that got them. Plastic tubs are VERY hit or miss. Right now i am valuing them at $5 towards a bid, I will adjust that with experience. I don't expect them to pay out as well as these did generally. But if they do I will readjust that number.

So other take a ways from all of this:
I don't have a good way to test 220 appliances. Getting them to my laundry room would be an extreme challenge. It affects my pricing and selling of these in a negative way. I need to resolve this.
I had to buy a second lock-which meant buying one from uhaul. $5 wasn't too bad, but still...rookie mistake. Bring more locks then you think you might need. Also use nail polish to color co-ordinate them.
I need a spotlight. I ordered one from Amazon, rechargeable, can plug into the lighter socket or the wall, LED. Very nice..and only $40 or so.
I don't have a truck, renting from uhaul isn't that bad, but it WILL add up and you need to take that into account when you do this. As a hobby it means you aren't as financially competitive as the other bidders. Keep it in mind. If you're going to be serious about it, buy a used uhaul truck or other box truck. Or use a good truck and trailer.

Things to teach my daughter now...Selling on craigslist, what goes on craigslist vs ebay, and why. Whats great for the yard sale. And...what could go to the auction. Everything goes on the yard sale once, but then the watch, and collectable dolls are going to go the ebay route I think, the dryer on craigslist, and everything else keeps going to the yard sale.

Have to think on ways to sell when the summer is over, or just save up stuff for a massive yard sale on clear weekends. Dunno. More thought and experience is needed.  But this has been a lot of fun.  And profitable.

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