Storage auctions are great for getting your hands on usable goods at rock bottom prices. When storage customers default on their leases after a few months of not paying rent, they get the boot - in the form of a wonderfully embarrassing and final public sale. Unfortunately, there's just no accounting for what these tenants might have been using their lockers for before they started running afoul of the storage company. It falls to the brave auctioneers and the unsuspecting public to uncover some of these sometimes downright disgusting and unsanitary storage auction surprises. Let's take a look at 10 of those special auction units that started with an excited auctioneer rolling up the door and ended with a chorus of, "what the...", laughter and sobbing.
10. The Super Stinky and Soggy Scrapbook That Wasn't Really a Book
Some parents just go too far when it comes to preserving Junior's first this and that. Case in point -this unsuspecting storage auctioneer was spearheading a group of motivated locker buyers only to find that Mom and Dad were using their storage unit to treasure one of their child's first major movements - in the form of a dirty diaper. Know many storage units that get good ventilation and don't bake in the sun? Neither do I.
9. Porcelain Fields Forever
Continuing in the tradition of things that should never have been held on to in the first place, we have number nine - weighing in at a healthy disgust level. This particular find is credited to tclane at storageauctionforums.com. A group of eager auction buyers were dumbfounded to see the door lifted on a large drive-up unit only to find a silent, stinky field of USED toilets. That’s it. You have to wonder and worry about the mental health of some of these tenants. Some brave soul finally bid $5 and won the entire lot. Toilet parts can be valuable and all, but, there aren’t enough rubber gloves in the world...
8. How Do You Like My Things?
I can remember one particular tenant who was a handyman that had several different storage units between our two facilities - which happened to be across the street from one another. As if this wasn’t bad enough, he could never come up with the money for his regular monthly rent, even though I let him slide and make partial payments month after month. Eventually, his units went to auction one by one, along with all his tools inside. Apparently he had an especially strong attachment to his last unit, because when I lifted the door on it for the 30-odd buyers standing behind me, we found him inside - evidently just waking up for the day.
He apologized for “the mess” and stepped outside to join us in the crowd. When I asked him what he thought he was doing, he explained that he was stepping into the crowd in order to bid on his own unit, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world. I looked at him blankly for about twenty seconds, then I shrugged and said, “O.K.” He bid $90 for his entire collection power tools, clothes, and remaining belongings in his 10 foot by 15 foot drive-up unit, which was all the cash he had on him at the time. The guy standing next to him bid $100 and won it all. The look on the tenant’s face was priceless, as he turned, visibly puzzled, to look at the winner, as if it hadn’t occurred to him that someone might have more than $90.
7. The Scooby Doo Slipper of Destiny
In my experience, it’s tenants that put up the most fight who have the least reason to. One of my previous tenants had rented out our second smallest locker, saying he’d only need it for the summer. He was strapped for cash when he signed up, so I piled on the discounts, making it so rock bottom cheap it wasn’t funny. He would come and pay his bill in cash, usually a week or so late, but after his summer of discounts ran out, he totally disappeared. We called him. We e-mailed him. We texted his phone.
We asked his family to help us get in touch with him so he could avoid the rapidly mounting late charges. When we got someone on the phone and asked for him, they would ask him if he wanted to talk to us, then we would hear him in the background say “I’m not here” and then the relative would inform us “he’s not here.” Flash forward four months. His total bill, plus late charges, applicable lien and auction fees, and the cost of advertising his sale in the paper was now $750, a figure dozens of times his usual rent charge.
So what was the unspeakable treasure that merited all this evasion? What was so essential to his life that he needed to rent a secured storage locker for it in the first place? I popped open the door to find an assortment of dust bunnies, 5 plastic clothes hangers on the floor, and, in the center of them all, the crown jewel: one amusement park scooby-doo slipper turned on its side. The best part is that, considering we had overlocked him months before, this is what he had been originally paying to store...
6. The “Ok....” Unit
The storage units that are full of human waste often seem to be the worst and most disturbing, especially when they’re right there in front of your face and invading your nostrils. However, there are certain units that are so disturbing they make the used diaper lockers seem totally reasonable. This next storage auction find was definitely a major influence on all the self storage property managers who didn’t make a habit of checking and inventorying their auction units before sale day. After this one got seen at a facility down the street, you can bet managers everywhere took notice.
It was a serene late-afternoon auction day. The other units at the facility had been decent enough, containing lots of household goods. There were a handful of bidders in the crowd that had already plunked down their cash and won some good hauls earlier in the day. The auctioneer threw upon the door on the last unit - a garage sized 10 foot by 30 foot monster. Expecting to see a commercial or industrial warehouse full of goods, the bidders were stunned into silence to see only a female mannequin (the dolls they put clothes on in shops) that was covered in splattered red paint. The doll had a number of stab wounds on its torso. On the floor? A kitchen knife with dried red paint on the blade. The rest of the cavernous unit was totally empty. How do you blow off steam after work, Bob?
5. What Did You Say You Used This Unit For, Honey?
It’s not uncommon to have your friend or loved one show up to an auction and bid on your delinquent unit in a final desperate attempt to save it from the hands of a stranger. Sometimes, it even works. However, as this case illustrates, sometimes the only thing worse than losing the unit to a stranger is having it saved by your partner.
The tenant whose unit was up on the chopping block had been struggling to keep up with her rental bill while traveling abroad on business. She finally had to resort to asking her locally based boyfriend to show up for her and pose as a random, interested bidder. He had a few hundred dollars with which to buy the unit, and it was a small closet sized locker, so there was a good chance he would be able to succeed. Now, unfortunately for him, he didn’t know his traveling girlfriend had a storage unit until she reluctantly asked him for this favor. Nevertheless, being the congenial guy that he was, this unsuspecting boyfriend obliged and showed up on auction day with cash in hand.
He won the unit. No one else even came close to bidding as high as he was going for such a small unit that had only closed boxes you couldn’t see into. Maybe they were just personal papers that were of no commercial value. Turns out they weren’t papers, but they were certainly personal. This poor guy found 50 square feet totally packed full of adult toys of all shapes, sizes and colors. His face was also priceless.
4. Jeff Goldblum and the Tattered Love Seat of Shame
We’re going to do this one up haiku-style:
Tattered love seat in empty unit
on wall, a computer print-out
“Jeff Goldblum is Watching You Poop”
3. If You Pay Cash, the Slurpees Are on the House
This next unit belongs to the proud tradition of lockers everywhere that have punished storage managers who failed to do their proper pre-auction processing and inventorying. A group of middle aged storage auction buyers had lined up at a storage facility in Honolulu. The crowd included a few retired cops and some local business people that found on storage auctions were a good place to get discounted goods for resale.
The manager was surprised to be selling this particular unit: the tenant was always a in a “super good mood” and paid their bill in cash, even though the rental bill was $400 a month for this giant drive-up. Then, suddenly, the tenant dropped off the map for months. It was as if they disappeared or were snatched up or something.
The door rolled up on a field of glass bongs, water pipes, a suitcase of handguns with the serial numbers filed off, and several pounds of dried and shrink wrapped marijuana. Who won this drug lord’s former unit? The cops.
2. Fisherman’s Folly
Giving the diaper units a run for their money since the beginning of storage auction history, “Food-Fail” units, as I like to call them, have a tremendous potential for compounding stank. You have a metal storage unit that gets direct sunlight, usually on 3 of its 4 sides each and every day. You have an out of the way location that even the best-intentioned tenants don’t always make it to regularly to in order to check on the contents of their storage.
One fisherman thought he was more clever than the warnings that were posted all over his storage facility warning against storing any food of any kind. He thought he was more clever than his rental agreement which strictly forbade the storage of any perishibles of any kind. He was a professional fisherman and he knew what he was doing. One day, before getting completely caught up in a long off-shore fishing trip, he packed away the previous day’s haul, intending to return early in the morning to sell his catch to local restaurants. He packed 25 pounds of fish. Into a cooler. With two bags of ice. Flash forward 3 and a half months.
When the attending bidders got a whiff of the unit once the door was lifted, most of them turned around immediately and were so offended that they left the property without seeing any of the other units for sale. One bidder that saw the cooler said it looked like it had been draped over with a fur coat.
1. Super-Secured Remains
Grief can make you do strange things. Some grieving families will spare no expense for their dearly departed, going so far as to secure their relative's remains in their storage unit. Although a violation of most rental contracts, this would have been all well and good if they had simply kept up with their bill. Imagine this poor storage auctioneer's surprise when he rolled up the door for dozens of waiting bidders only to find a coffin inside!
You can read all about storage auctions, including the good, the bad, the ugly and the insane, at Storage Auctions Kings .com