As a platform for storage auctions, we’re familiar with the phenomenon of abandoned items. Storage lot owners retain property left behind by delinquent tenants; in order to clear space and generate revenue, they hold auctions.
State governments also require cash flow to fund public works and institutions. Lottery tickets represent a popular business model; taxes, not so much. A lesser known approach to generating public funds bears resemblance to storage auctions. Three years after people abandon safe deposit boxes at banks and credit unions, the items are turned over to the state.
As an example, Arizona maintains an entire website devoted to unclaimed property. The site serves as a means for property owners and their heirs to find missing items. It also announces auctions where buyers can bid on remitted property.
Storage Auctions vs. Safe Deposit Auctions: Which Is Better?
Comparing storage auctions to safe deposit auctions is like comparing apples to oranges. With storage containers, there’s usually an element of mystery, an exciting gamble for a prize. With safe deposit auctions, states list specific items. Obviously, they tend to be valuable by virtue of having been stored in a bank vault. People generally store different types of items in safe deposit boxes than they do in storage lockers. When you win a storage auction, you find yourself the proud owner of a large quantity of items — their quality partially or entirely unknown.
Call us crazy, but that’s part of the fun! Depending on what draws you to storage auctions, you might enjoy exploring this other avenue of bidding on abandoned items. On the other hand, you might prefer to stick with the treasure hunt that accommodates a lower budget and satisfies a thirst to search. Storage Treasures is your hub for live and online storage auctions.
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What do you do when you find a priceless item in someone’s old storage unit? Thanks to digital technology, it’s easier than ever to track down previous tenants and reach out to return sentimental treasures. That’s what happened with Alex Miller, who wrote a delightful account of how his father’s art returned to him.
Miller’s father has produced artwork throughout his life, including a well-known painting of a father and child. He remembers losing the artwork left in the storage unit due to delinquent payments, and in Miller’s retelling, he didn’t seem to like being reminded of his loss.
Fortunately, the storage auction winners reached out to Miller. Karie Farman identified the artist based on an article Miller had written. As of this writing, Farman and Miller’s father are discussing the return of their items.
Meanwhile, Miller set his heart on one piece in particular: an unfinished drawing of him at 18 in his Navy dress uniform. Because of the irreplaceable and invaluable nature of the item, Farman offered to return it for free. Miller insisted on compensating her, and he now owns the portrait his father started years ago.
For storage unit buyers, this success story inspires us to return items that families may never have wanted to part with. In Farman’s case, it wasn’t about money, but about doing the right thing. She labored on her own time to investigate the source of the artwork and ultimately received an undisclosed amount of money.
Have you ever returned items of sentimental value to their former owners? Share your stories in the comments, and be sure to check out the story on Quartz, because Miller tells it wonderfully: My father drew a portrait of me a decade ago. I just bought it back from a stranger on Facebook.
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Meet Vivian Maier, A Storage Treasure
Wouldn’t it be great to find an undiscovered Van Gogh in a storage unit? Or to solve the mystery of the stolen Rembrandt paintings, now missing for 27 years?
These scenarios might be a tad far-fetched. However, for historian John Maloof, an interest in local history led him to accidentally, posthumously discover the photography of Vivian Maier. Her incredible images of city life, from dramatic scenes to daily routines, are beautifully composed and expertly captured. Many of the images tell stories, and even more leave the viewer wondering about what might have been going on. This quintessential 20th century street photography may have been lost in storage had it not been for a lucky find.
Photographs Discovered At Auction
Maloof first encountered her work at an auction selling items from a repossessed storage locker. He needed old photographs of the area for his book about Chicago’s Northwest Side, and paid $400 for a box of negatives from the 1960s.
When he finally got around to looking at the contents of the box, he realized he’d uncovered treasure. He contacted one of Maier’s former employers to gain access to two storage lockers — the contents of which were destined for the garbage. Maier was a hoarder, and it was difficult to sort trash from treasure in her packed floor-to-ceiling storage units. Yet the first box Maloof discovered ignited a passion for her work, and he now owns 90% of her collection.
Treasure Hidden In Storage Lockers For Decades
A highly lauded documentary delves into the photographer’s biography, and a new book by Ann Marks delves even deeper, dispelling some of the myths that have already formed around her life story. For those of us at Storage Treasures, it’s a fascinating journey into art and art history that began with the auction of a mysterious box, abandoned by its charismatic, talented owner for reasons unknown.
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Baseballs, collectible cards, celebrity photographs, books, posters, art prints, band T-shirts: if you find an autographed one in a storage unit, your heart might just flutter. Is it treasure? There are ways to find out.
Keep in mind that just because an item isn’t signed doesn’t mean it isn’t valuable. Rare posters, first-edition books, original art, and limited run collectibles can potentially fetch a high price on the resale market, even if no one scribbled a jaunty John Hancock on it. If you do find a signed item, here’s how you decipher its authenticity:
Continue reading “How to Tell if Autographs are Authentic”
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If you have kids, chances are you’ve held on to a few things – okay, more than a few things – for posterity. Handmade items earn their place as family heirlooms, and useful items could save money down the line. Toy Story taught us that toys have feelings. Perhaps not, but they evoke feelings, and for some they’re hard to let go.
As they say, out of sight, out of mind. After a storage auction, you might find yourself the proud new owner of a family’s toy collection. You’re probably not as keen to store the keepsakes, so what should you do?
Continue reading “Getting Started Reselling Toys from Storage Units”
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Remember when somebody won a treasure chest full of pirate booty at a storage auction? That was truly a rare find. It’s unlikely you’ll stumble upon a valuable coin collection, though it’s possible — people have been known to abandon valuable items. Even if you don’t find a cinematic treasure chest, there might be some change lying around, or some bills forgotten in an old coat pocket: score!
Continue reading “Intro to Valuable Coins”
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When a storage unit tenant goes delinquent on payments, the facility owner takes possession of the unit’s contents. Auctions free up rental space and allow the owner to generate funds to make up for lost revenue.
Continue reading “What to Do With Important Documents Found in Storage Units”
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Recently, we discussed the best practices for selling clothes and where to sell them [PART 1 AND PART 2]. Before you go through the effort to sell secondhand clothing, however, it might help you to know how much you can expect to earn.
Naturally, there’s a wide range of prices clothing and accessories could fetch. We’re talking anywhere between the tens of thousands to the tens of… cents. Some of the factors that go into pricing used clothing are fashion label, style, seasonality and condition.
Continue reading “Reselling Clothes, part 3”
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Unit Hunter Curt Strutz demonstrates the chance you take when purchasing a storage unit through the example of a filled garbage bag found in his latest unit purchase.
Continue reading “Storage Unit Grab Bag”
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A garage sale is a great way to free up space and make money doing it. However, it isn’t something you can just throw together at the last minute if you want it to succeed. To make the most of your time, here are some tips for holding a yard sale.
Continue reading “Tips for Successful Yard Sales”
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