Author - Tiana Bodine

What is a Storage Auction?


Storage Auctions 101

What is a Storage Auction?

Storage auctions occur when a self-storage facility sells the contents of an abandoned unit in order to recover the cost of missed payments. Some people use these auctions as a way to gain items at a low cost, thus enabling them to sell the discovered contents at a profit.

In more recent years, thanks to the popularity of storage auction reality TV shows, storage auctions have become more common and diverse. Some groups hold auctions for charities, and some people choose to auction the contents of their own storage units for profit or to make up a debt with their storage facility.


Self-storage facilities are a relatively new invention, first appearing around the 1960s. Since that time, storage had grown substantially in popularity, with facility numbers exploding over the past 35 years. There are more than 30,000 storage facility companies operating in the U.S., most with more than one facility.

Self-storage facilities are used by people who are moving or need more space to store their belongings. Many of the people renting units are undergoing periods of transition, including college students, people getting divorced, and those moving from their homes.

The transient nature of self-storage means that units often go neglected due to financial circumstances, forgetfulness or simple abandonment. When a storage user is unable to pay his rent or abandons the unit, the account goes into default, and the facility owner must recover the lost funds. In order to do this, the facility will run an auction to sell off the contents of the abandoned unit.

Storage Auction TV Shows

The self-storage industry grew tremendously since the 1960s. By 2010, 1 in 10 people rented storage units. Up to that point, however, storage auctions themselves were relatively obscure. This began to change in 2010 when two hit reality TV shows were aired: Storage Wars on A&E and Auction Hunters on Spike.

These shows follow bidders at auctions, showing the valuable finds and profits that they make from them. Despite the controversies surrounding the shows, including allegations that they are staged, storage auction reality shows became very popular and quickly gained a fan following.

In response, numerous other auction shows and spin-offs have been released, including Storage hunters, Storage Wars: Texas, Storage Wars: New York, Storage Wars: Canada, Storage Hunters: UK and Auction Kings.

The effect of these programs was an increased awareness in storage auctions and unprecedented growth in the industry. Approximately 80,000 storage auctions are held per year, and a cottage industry has grown up around them including books on auction hunting, online auction listings, and numerous websites devoted to the topic.

Rules & Regulations

Storage auctions are run according to particular rules. Some are established by the storage facility itself while others are state-mandated laws. Recently, thanks to technological advances within the storage business, some of these laws have been changed:

1 – Before auctioning a unit, the facility must make a best faith effort to contact the owner and settle the debt. This process usually takes up to three months and includes phone calls and certified letters being sent to the tenant.

2 – All auctions must be announced publicly and held in a public location. In other words, the unit’s contents cannot be seized by the facility owner or sold privately to another individual. Announcements must be published in a newspaper or, in some states, posted online.

3 – No one, including the facility owner, may enter the unit or disturb its contents until after the unit is sold. Bidders can look at a unit only from the outside prior to the sale. However, the facility owner can cut off the lock, take photographs of the unit and seal it again with a new lock prior to the sale.

4 – Once a unit has been sold, the new owner generally has between 24 and 48 hours to empty it of its contents and sweep it clean. Otherwise, the new owner must rent out the unit himself.

5 – In most states, funds earned through an auction that exceed the balance owed to the facility must be returned to the unit’s original tenant. If this is impossible, the funds may be released into the state’s escheatable account, or the facility may hold them for a specific time period before being able to use them.

It’s worth noting that these rules apply only to lien auctions. If a different type of sale is being held in an auction format, such as a charity sale or private owner sale out of a storage facility, these lien laws do not apply. It’s up to the person making the sale to come up with any additional rules to govern that sale.

Types of Auction

Although live auctions are the most popular way of selling the contents of a storage unit, there are several options for holding a sale.

Live Auction

In a live auction, a professional auctioneer holds the sale. Bidders are given a few minutes to look at the unit from outside before the auctioneer starts the bidding. The starting bid will depend on the apparent value of the unit from the auctioneer’s cursory glance, and it will go up as attendees raise the bid. Once bidding has slowed, the highest bidder wins the auction.

Live auctions are the most exciting for participants and viewers, making this the format popularized through reality television. Most facilities will wait until they have several units to sell and auction them all on the same day for the convenience of the auctioneer and to draw a bigger crowd of bidders since a larger crowd generally translates to higher bids.

Sealed Bid

In a sealed bid auction, the contents of a unit are disclosed and bidders place their bids in a sealed envelope. Each person makes just one bid, and the highest bidder wins the unit. These are also sometimes called silent auctions.

In some cases, a facility will accept sealed bids in advance of a live auction. These are considered alongside the bids made at the auction itself.

Silent auctions are fairly rare among storage facilities, but they are sometimes held if a unit seems particularly valuable or if the facility wants to keep a sale simple or has just one or two units to sell.

Online Auction

Online or virtual storage auctions are increasingly popular. These take place over the Internet, much like sales on eBay. The unit is posted with photographs and a description, and buyers place their bids online from their computers or smart phones. At the end of the designated auction period, the sale is closed and the highest bidder wins the unit.

There are several virtual storage auction websites to facilitate these sales. Some charge fees to both buyers and sellers, while some charge just one or the other or are free to use.

Aside from storage facility owners, private sellers can put their units for sale online through a virtual auction site.

Charity Auction

In order to capitalize on the increasing popularity and awareness of storage auctions, some charities have begun using the storage auction format for their fundraisers.

Generally, these auctions are for units that have been filled with donations. This makes it more likely to find valuable items inside, and bidding will usually go higher. Some charities will hold additional events alongside the auction in order to attract visitors and boost the fundraising.

Want to add your insight to this article? Leave your interesting and creative responses in the comments section below.

IBid4Storage Users Lose Money With Membership Fees

iBid4storageOnline storage auctions are swiftly gaining in popularity, and plenty of sites are eager to get in on the action. It’s hardly a surprise that virtual auctions are the wave of the future. Sales made online tend to receive higher bids, netting the seller more money, and posting a unit online is much easier and less labor-intensive than hosting a live auction.

One newcomer to the U.S. market is iBid4Storage, a virtual storage auction site that tries to stand out from the pack. Unlike some of its competitors, iBid doesn’t charge premiums to buyers and sellers: You bid on units and pay for them in person with the owner when the auction is finished. In that regard, iBid4Storage works a lot like OSA. Here’s the crucial difference: is completely free, no strings attached, whereas iBid charges buyers and sellers a monthly fee to use the service. doesn’t seem too eager to make this point clear as it’s not exactly spelled out on its main site, but once you register you find out the truth: iBid is only free for bidders who want want basic features. Sellers must pay $50 per month per facility in order to participate in auctions. Buyers who want to be notified if they’re outbid or want to bid on more than 3 units have to pay a $19.95 monthly fee.

This monthly service fee is assessed regardless of whether you run an auction that month, and the expense can add up quickly enough to dissuade storage facilities and private sellers from using the service. This reduces the overall number of people using the site, giving buyers fewer options, and of course it strips money from the pockets of sellers.

Right now, is still the best in the business. Not only is it 100% free for both buyers and sellers, it also has a huge and active community. OSA gets a ton of traffic, including auctioneers, private sellers, storage facilities and professional bidders, and its membership is one of the biggest of any site of its kind. A big membership means more variety, which is great for everyone.

Giving Delinquent Tenants an Option

Tenant OptionsContrary to what some might think, storage facility owners don’t really want to hold auctions for delinquent units. As a facility owner, your bread and butter is the regular rent you receive from your tenants each month. Delinquent tenants disrupt that income, and putting their units up for sale is a time-consuming hassle.

It’s especially difficult when you know that the renter is behind on his payments and will have no way to bring the account current. It puts you in an uncomfortable position knowing that the tenant cannot pay his rent. Unlike an abandoned unit, these delinquent storage units put a lot of pressure on you to find a solution – but you can’t make exceptions for every person who falls on hard times.

Fortunately, there is a compromise that you can suggest that will relieve the financial stress from the tenant without putting you in a bind: Online Storage Auctions. Although many of the auctions at are put there by auctioneers or storage facilities, the tenants themselves are always welcome to post their own units for auction at no charge. And, if they’re delinquent, this allows them the chance to liquidate their belongings and pay off the debt with minimal hassles. Here are a few perks to this method:

— The owner of the items will have a better idea of what’s in the unit and what it’s worth, so he’ll be able to post a better description, take great photos and really up-sell the unit to interested buyers who will pay good money for the contents. This can result in higher bids than if they were sold through a traditional auction.

— You don’t have to worry about passing profits beyond the debt on to the tenant the way you would if you were facilitating the sale. Normally, you’d have to relinquish those funds to the state if you couldn’t get in touch with the owner. Now, the owner gets the money first and pays you out of the profits.

— You, the tenant and the buyer can all meet and exchange money on-site, allowing you to get the unit paid off immediately after the sale and the tenant to walk away with any profits over the amount owed to you.

— The unit will be cleaned out by the buyer, saving you and your tenant the effort and hassle of cleaning it. This gets you an empty unit that can be rented out again more quickly, and it alleviates some stress on the part of your tenant as well.

For most facility owners, storage auctions are a last resort. Giving your tenant the option to liquidate and sell their items on their own to interested buyers can help to meet both of your needs with minimal conflict. It also relieves you of the work and responsibility, so you can get back to doing what you do best: Managing a storage facility!

Which National Truck Rental Company is the Most Affordable?

Truck RentalMost people are familiar with truck rental companies only when they need to move. If you’ve ever packed up your family and moved across town or cross-country, you’ve probably dealt with U-Haul, Penske, Budget or any of the other big truck rental companies out there.

When you work in the storage auction business, you’ll find yourself much more familiar with the local truck rental company than ever before. This is because every auction you attend has the potential to send you home with large quantities of stuff that must be hauled away within 24-48 hours. Unless you have a pickup, you’re going to find yourself getting very cozy with the local truck rental; even if you have a truck of your own, you may still need to rent one to haul larger items.

Since you’ll be renting a truck semi-frequently, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with your options so that you can trim your expenses whenever possible.

First, do yourself a favor by getting the smallest truck that will get the job done. For in-town jobs, many companies allow you to rent a pickup or 10′ box truck, which be sufficient for most storage auction hauls and will be easier on gas mileage. That efficiency will keep your overhead low.

Next, you’ll want to compare prices among several companies. The exact rates will vary from one city to the next, so you should do your own research before settling on a particular truck rental company.

The top three truck rental companies in the U.S. are Budget, Penske and U-Haul. Other companies, like Avon and Enterprise, do have trucks they can loan you, especially if you’re just looking for a pickup, but for most people the term truck rental is synonymous with those three companies.

In terms of price, the cost of an in-town truck rental is quite low. All companies will average around $20 to $30 per day, with additional charges per mile. U-Haul is the cheapest, with an advertised daily rate of $19.95 per day. Penske and Budget usually rent around $29.

However, these rates are base prices, and the actual cost can be much higher if you’re using the truck on a popular day. Fortunately, these price fluctuations mean that rental costs are negotiable. You’ll often get the best rates if you call ahead for a price, then leave your number rather than commit. When a representative calls you afterward to follow up, you can play hardball and quote a competitor’s advertised price to see if you can get cheaper rates.

Also bear in mind that cost is not the only relevant factor in choosing a truck rental company for your storage auction needs. Customer service and vehicle availability make a big difference, too. Your local company may have the habit of advertising local rates without ever having a truck available for the job. This is why calling the exact company you plan to use and getting a quote is the only way to ensure you’re getting what you want.

Do you have a favorite truck rental company? If so, which one is it and how much does it cost you? Leave your interesting and creative responses in the comments section below.

Storage Auctions in the UK Take Off Thanks to Storage Hunters

Storage Hunters UKReality TV in general and storage auction shows in particular have deep roots in America, but the trend is spreading far and wide. By now you’ve probably heard about Storage Wars: Canada, but did you know that the UK is getting in on the act with its own Storage Hunters spin-off?
If you’ve been keeping an eye on British television lately, it’s no surprise. For more than a year, the original Storage Hunters has been the top-earning show on Britain’s “Dave” network, a channel comprised of a few original British shows (like Red Dwarf) alongside American imports. The show pulls in a million viewers for each new episode, making it the most popular program on the network.
Now, a new series has been unveiled: Storage Hunters UK, a 10-part spin-off from Sean Kelly himself. The first episode is set to air on October 28, and it features a brand new cast of bidders. Details on the cast and locations haven’t been publicized yet, but we know from reports at Digital Spy that the show will have a British twist and a new voice-over to drive home the humorous aspect of the show.
Now, it’s anyone’s guess how well the show will do. Previous attempts to replicate American reality TV in the UK have flopped, like the lamentable Pawn Stars UK. Then again, since Kelly and a few of the other American stars are on-board for the remake, it might translate better to the new audience.
It’s also possible that the popularity of Storage Hunters in the UK has less to do with the subject matter and more with its portrayal of Americans: Many British viewers undoubtedly enjoy this particularly over-the-top version of the auction show format specifically because it feeds into stereotypes about life across the pond. This is evidenced by the way Dave Network itself describes the show on its website: “If the phrase “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” got drunk and started punching a chubby man from Arkansas the resulting horror might look like Storage Hunters.”
It’s an accurate description, but not a particularly flattering one.
All of this does raise the question: Have storage auctions in the UK become more popular thanks to the reality shows?
While that was certainly the trend in the U.S., real-world storage auctions in the UK are less common. Although storage facilities retain the right to resell items from delinquent units, these items are usually sent to warehouses for auctions rather than selling them off one unit at a time. Storage unit usage in general is also pretty rare, although it’s been growing over the last few years, especially for businesses. As the popularity of Storage Hunters UK and other storage auction shows spread across the British Isles, storage auctions might really begin to take hold in the UK.

How Did Big Sis from Auction Hunters Die?

Robin Nomik Matte, better known by reality show lovers as “Big Sis,” passed away in May. The memorial was kept private and personal among her friends and family. Most fans didn’t know anything had even happened — until the season opener for Auction Hunters ran a brief memorial segment.

Update: Robin’s sister Lucinda asked us to clarify that Robin’s death was not drug related or suicide. Robin passed away from cancer. Click here to read the interview.

Naturally, this sudden news has left plenty of fans reeling, and the Internet is rife with speculation about the details of the 37-year-old’s death. Rumors are already circulating online, but is there any truth to any of them? Does anyone know what really happened to Big Sis?

Ton Jones and Allen Haff shared details of her memorial and obituary on their Facebook pages back in May, but no details were shared either in the post or the comments by either actor. Robin’s own social media accounts are pretty barren, so there’s little to dig up there.

There is one important clue, though: Big Sis bowed out of the show in the episode airing March 29 of Auction Hunters: Pawn Shop Edition. The official reason given with Robin’s two-week notice was that she had a family obligation forcing her to move to Milwaukee, training a replacement Elle in her stead.

While this explanation could have been totally accurate, it’s also possible that it was a cover for medical problems Robin could have been experiencing, allowing her to leave the show quietly before the illness spread.
On the other hand, many suspect that the lack of details online is indicative of suicide, drug use or a related “shameful” death. That’s often the case when an obituary is maddeningly vague, like Robin’s (

Ultimately, the entire situation is a mystery. Outside of her time on Auction Hunters as the shop manager for Ton and Allen’s pawn shop, Robin seems to have lived a very private life. Somewhat inexplicably, she’s not even listed on the show’s IMDB page, although Laura Soares (aka, Elle) is.

Taking all of that into account, though, short of hearing directly from the horse’s mouth — a family member or at least a co-star — speculating about the cause of Robin Matte’s death won’t get you very far. It’s better to focus on what we do know: She was a beloved part of the Auction Hunters show, and she’ll be missed by friends, family and fans. Click the following link for more information on how Big Sis died.

So, what did you think of Robin and how will you remember her? Leave your interesting and creative response in the comments section below.

Storage Unit Auctions: A Green Solution

Online Storage Auctions Green

Online Storage Auctions GreenBy and large, we are a culture that’s becoming increasingly aware of our impact on the natural world. Green initiatives across the country seek to reduce carbon emissions, boost recycling and eliminate toxins that might leech out into the oceans. This is good news for the environment as it helps create a more sustainable world for us all to live in. It’s also good news for storage auction buyers and resale companies, because it generates a real demand for the service we offer.

At its heart, the resale business is very “green.” When you buy a storage unit’s contents, you’re walking away with items that might otherwise have ended up in a landfill. Many of these abandoned items are in perfectly usable condition, either as-is or with some mild renovations, and they can be given a good life.

Whether you’re reselling the items you buy at a storage auction or using them in your own home, here are a few ways storage auctions fit into a green lifestyle:

— Abandoned storage units go into default when their rent isn’t paid. The facility manager has no need for the contents. Running an auction matches the items inside with interested buyers instead of sending usable, potentially valuable items to the landfill.

— You can find numerous valuable and usable items inside for furnishing your home, dorm room, apartment, vacation home or anywhere else. Local storage auctions are a good place to find things like furniture, electronics and even wall art, and you can get it cheaper even than a thrift store or yard sale if you’re careful with your bids.

— Used items can be refurbished and resold. With environmentally conscious people looking for alternatives to mass-produced products, used and refurbished goods are more popular than ever. With a little paint or varnish, you can give new life to outdated furniture and fetch a great price while giving buyers a product they can feel good about.

— Things that can’t be resold or used are recycled, sometimes for a profit. Most storage auction hunters are also scrappers and pickers, and they know exactly how to squeeze value from metal, broken electronics and other recyclable materials. Recycling centers will pay for these trash components if you know where to look, and recycling them puts a little extra money in your pocket while keeping useful materials out of landfills (and reducing the need to mine more new metals from the earth).

If you want to reduce your carbon footprint even more, cut down your fuel costs by bidding on auctions virtually. Online storage auctions are becoming increasingly popular, and they’re an easy way to view available units and make a bid without having to drive around town to participate in live auctions.

So, what green practices do you or your business use? Leave your interesting and creative responses in the comments section below.

Storage Auctions Present Great Opportunities for Students

Storage Auctions StudentsWhen you think of storage auctions, the image that pops into mind is probably of a middle-aged guy or maybe a woman who owns a thrift store or other resale business. While this image is sometimes accurate, the truth is that storage auctions can benefit people from all walks of life, not just those who routinely make an appearance on the reality shows. One group that can seriously benefit from storage auctions are college students. With a bit of know-how, a student can easily turn storage auctions into a part-time job or source of quick income.

Liquidate Your Belongings

Storage space is at a premium on college campuses, and many students have turned toward using storage facilities to keep their belongings safe between semesters or even throughout the school year. After graduation, though, you might find that you have a lot of belongings that you don’t really need. Instead of trying to sell off your extra mini-fridge, textbooks and Ikea furniture piece-by-piece, consider liquidating it all through online storage auctions.

If your items are already in the storage unit, selling them is as easy as putting the unit up for sale online through This free service lets you post photos and a description of your unit’s contents and accept bids from interested buyers. When someone wins the auction, you get the cash and they get the job of emptying the unit and hauling away your stuff. You can then put that money toward upgrading your furniture or paying the deposit on a new apartment.

Furnish Your Dorm or Apartment

College students are always looking for cheap, functional furniture for their dorms or apartments. Things like bookshelves, lamps, electronics and storage furniture are always in high demand. Instead of cobbling together a shelf from milk crates, consider attending a few storage auctions. Abandoned storage units are full of home furnishings, and you can easily walk away with enough stuff to furnish a whole apartment for far less than the cost of buying one or two pieces new.

To make this tactic work, you’ll need to set a budget and stick to it. You might not find what you’re looking for at the first auction you visit, but keeping an open mind and a budget of a couple hundred dollars can net you some great finds. Best of all, you have a chance at getting much better furniture than you could otherwise afford, even including designer pieces or antiques. You can resell anything you don’t want to help recoup the costs.

If trudging out into the heat to look at storage units in person doesn’t sound like your idea of a great Saturday afternoon, you can try online auctions instead. These allow you to browse the available units and bid when it’s convenient to you. You only have to go to the facility if your bid wins.

Start a Part-Time Business

If the image of “broke college student” applies to you, you’re probably always looking for more opportunities to make money. Having a side job can disrupt your studying. Making your own income through a resale business is much more flexible and can actually earn you a far better profit than you could make flipping burgers.

The basic premise of a resale business is easy: You visit storage auctions, buy units at a low price, then resell the items piece-by-piece through Craigslist, eBay, local flea markets etc. This is something you can do largely from home, both scoping out online auctions and by listing items for sale online. If you go in with a friend or two, you’ll be able to very efficiently clean out a unit and divide the profits.

Lots of the items found in storage units are very easy to resell. This includes furniture, home appliances, electronic devices and more. If you can’t use them, someone else probably can – including a fellow student, making selling your wares as easy as walking down the hall of your dorm. You can also keep your merchandise in a storage unit of your own to save space, and if you need to liquidate suddenly or just can’t be bothered to keep up with the business, you can auction off the whole storage unit.

Storage auctions offer many valuable opportunities to students who are willing to put in a bit of effort to learn about them. You can get advice from the pros at the forum, the largest dedicated storage auction community on the web. Feel free to drop by to ask questions and get more tips for how auctions can benefit you!

Study Reveals that Women Are Slightly More Likely Than Men to Fall Behind on Storage Payments

Gender GraphWhen you’re in the storage auction business, knowing the demographics of the tenants whose items you’ll be buying is an important part of gauging how much a unit might be worth. After all, affluent people tend to store more valuable items. In an effort to understand the trends behind storage auctions, we asked the question: Do men or women default on their rent more frequently?

Guesses at our forums varied, with plenty of excellent reasoning behind both sides. Some guessed that men would be more common due to military deployment; others suspected that women would be more likely to abandon their units because the contents might not have been as valuable to them.

To complete our study, we analyzed 1,000 gender-specific names of Texas storage tenants that had gone into default and divided them into male and female. Of the tenants studied, 468 were men and 532 were women, showing women as 6.4% more likely to go into default than men.

Of course, this study is by no means conclusive. For more reliable data, we’d need to know what the ratio of male storage renters is to female. Our guess is that more men rent units than women – since it’s often the man in a couple who handles that type of business – which would skew the results even further as a larger percentage of women would default than men. Also, results might vary from one location to the next or on a nationwide scale. We analyzed data from 157 random storage facilities in Texas, but other states might look different.

All the same, it is interesting to see that more women went into default than men. We can only speculate as to the reason, but our best guess is echoed by commenter “Alias300” – women are more likely to rent storage units only during times of huge change or duress, while men are more likely to use the units to store their belongings under more normal circumstances. In other words, a woman getting a storage unit is likely to be undergoing a divorce or another similar life change. A man – either as part of a married couple or on his own – will probably use storage space for his “toys” like extra tools, machinery, hobby equipment and more.

It’s certainly a question that deserves a second look, though. Who’s renting more units? What are they keeping in them, and why? And, most importantly, who is leaving behind their belongings? Understanding these questions can be the key to finding those elusive treasures we’d all love to find in a storage locker.

So, why do you think women are more likely to get behind on their storage payments? Leave your interesting and creative responses in the comments section below.