Storage Wars on A & E and Auction Hunters on Spike are two popular TV shows revolving around the storage unit purchasing business. I’ve gone to auction, bought units, etc. Not every unit (aka locker) you buy is going to be full of jewelry, rare art, or nice furniture. Here are a few things I’ve learned.
1. A Flashlight – A good light can be very important, especially with indoor units (many do not have lights in the unit). You don’t have to spend $100 on a spotlight, but spending $10-20 on a decent light is well worth it.
2. Cash – Few locations operate on credit. Carry cash enough cash that you don’t lose a really good unit over a $20 difference, but also, be aware that the energy can be addictive, and it is the auctioneer’s job to sell the unit for as high a price as possible; so if you are the type to “spend it if you got it” don’t carry more than you can spare. You will also need a deposit amount for each unit in addition to the purchase price, this is usually $20/unit. Storage unit sales are subject to sales tax where applicable. Having a Reseller’s License will allow you to not pay sales tax on the purchase of the unit. To get a Resale License you will need a Sales Tax Collection Certificate. These can be acquired from your states comptroller office. Ask them about collecting sales tax on your sales and filing it.
3. Locks – If you do buy a unit you will need a way to secure it. Since the lock won’t be on there for long (the facilities usually give you 24-72 hours to clear a unit (including cleaning it) depending on size and their policies). I get mine form the local 99¢ Store.
4. Gloves – There are all sorts of dirty, sharp, or rough things in these units. I suggest a good pair of non-cloth gloves.
5. Trash bags – The truth is that 99.99% of unit have trash in them. It may not have been trash to the renter, but it is to you. Unless the facilities allow you to box and leave personal things with them (kids school projects, family photos, etc) then either you keep them (creepy and sometimes illegal) or you throw them away. Emotionally this is the hardest thing for me. Luckily most of the places I buy let me box and leave these in the front office for the ex-renter to come and get.
6. Camera – To sell most things you will need some pictures. Even if you are taking furniture to a consignment shop they may want you to email some pics ahead of bringing the item by.
7. Broom – You have to clean the unit to get your deposit back. This includes sweeping it clean. Bring a decent broom and dustpan.
8. Transportation – Somehow you have to take the stuff in your unit with you. You did manage to get to the auction, so you have some mode of transportation, but is it enough? I know there are units that I have not bid on because of their size, too big to haul, even in a borrowed F2150.
For more information I definitely would suggest taking look at Storage Treasures.