Is the Internet Killing Storage Auctions?

Add to the growing list of industries that the up-and-coming generation seems to be killing off: antiques and collectibles. The Collectibles Market Is Not What It Used to Be. The digital revolution has taken away the joy of the hunt. Or has it?

The fact that we now have convenience does not make us less inclined to explore, browse, and discover items we didn’t know we wanted. Antiquing, flea market browsing, yard sale shopping, and attending auctions have always been hobbies for a devoted niche of people. The items in demand and the formats of sales may change, but the thrill and the sales remain.

Used Goods and Online Resale Markets Thriving

In terms of buying antiques and collectibles as investments, any hedge fund manager will tell you that investments always carry risk. Collectibles are no exception, and you’ve got to be careful about buying items solely for the purpose of selling them later. The resale market is always changing as supply and demand fluctuate.

While many people who hoarded Beanie Babies are now disappointed by their actual value, the used goods market in the United States is a growing $20 billion industry. That’s not even counting the online resale market, of which the fashion sector alone grew 82% between 2013-2016.

But those are general goods, not big-ticket items like authentic antique furniture, right? Not necessarily. There’s a thriving online niche for antique buying and selling.

The Internet Hasn’t Killed Browsing

Not only do Americans love a good deal, but the younger generation also loves a good hunt. They wear, as the Thrift Shop song proudly proclaims, their granddad’s clothes. They shop in brick-and-mortar stores, from low-cost giants like Goodwill to higher-end boutique consignment shops to local nonprofits. It’s true that users can find specific items with the search function on sites like eBay and Etsy, but they also browse categories and wander through algorithm-generated lists of similar items.

At StorageTreasures, we’re believers in online auctions self storage auctions. We make browsing online for units easy and worth your time.

Ranking The Top 25 Crazy Finds In Storage Lockers On Storage Wars

Storage Wars the hit A&E Network reality show about a group of professional buyers and bidders going to storage facilities to buy units that have been left by their owners. The laws differ from state to state, in California the filming location for the TV series, the law states that storage units can be auctioned off for bidders if the owner has not paid after three months.

There have been times over the years where the legitimacy of Storage Wars finds have been called into question such as when one of the main bidders, Dave Hester, was caught in a lawsuit claiming he had planted items within the lockers to increase the excitement of the show.

Regardless of the validity of the finds, they do make for great television, certainly with the assortment of crazy things they have come across over 12 seasons. Ranging from the bizarre and fantastic to the outlandish and peculiar, screenrant ranks their top 25 items found on Storage Wars. Below we pick out a few of our favorites.

 

  1. The Elvis Collection
    Newspaper clippings long ago had a lot of value, but today most get their news and information online the value of these clippings have fallen greatly. However, specific newspapers that cover various moments in history can still be quite valuable. Dave Hester wound up bidding on a unit that unknowing to him, included tons of newspaper clippings from the day Elvis Presley died. With the clippings and assortment of Elvis memorabilia and collectibles, the unit was valued to be worth around $90,000. One of the largest finds on the show to date.
  2. World War II Minesweeper
    After a long bidding war between Dave and Ivy in the boiling heat of Southern California, Dave walked away with a fully packed unit using a high bid of $1500. What at first, felt like a bit of a loss bidding so much for a unit ended up being a huge victory when an old army container and the helmet was found in the unit. Upon further inspection of the items, it was determined they had uncovered an old World War II Minesweeper valued at almost $4,400.
  3. Human Skeleton
    On the spookier side of things, Dave Hester as going through a locker uncovered a collection of human bones, skull included. Given the circumstances and for his sake, he brought in an expert to determine whether or not the skeleton was real or not. They were determined to be real but not in a malicious way. The human skeleton was used for medical schools for students to study. The expert was able to determine this by the professional cleaning and nylon strings used to hold the bones together. All in all the skeleton was found to be worth over $1500.
  4. Whale In A Jar
    For a time on the show, Darrell decided with his son Brandon to go off on their own so he could teach his son the ropes of playing the storage hunting game. Unfortunately, Brandon still walked away with many dud units. One find though was quite significant and oddly strange. When picking through a unit he came upon a jar that he could only claim as “whale stuff”. Even experts after the find became baffled by how such an item would end up in a storage unit.
  5. Frank Gutierrez Artwork Collection
    Artwork is not a surprise to find when it comes to storage units. In fact, it is one of the most common items found in abandoned units, but one unit full of it ended up being one of the greatest finds in the show. Valued at over $300,000, it was as if the unit itself had been abandoned by Frank Gutierrez. Containing several pieces from the artist, we are left with many questions. How did the owner attain this artwork and why would they let it go?

How to Appraise Your Self Storage Auction Finds

Appraisal of antique and various items found in a self-storage auction can be daunting which is why you need to carry out diligent research to get an adequate knowledge of the value. An antique could be worth a lot of money, however, to value the item, you need to know ways to appraise all your finds.

 

A Verbal Appraisal.
You can get a free appraisal at some auction houses. Many times antique and auction houses offer free verbal appraisals on special dates. To know when an auction house or appraisal service offer such events, you can perform an internet search for the name of your city together with tags such as “appraisal day,” or “valuation day”,. Another way you can get a free verbal appraisal is to bring auction finds to a major local antique fair, thrift store or pawn shop. A lot of them usually have an appraiser allowing ticket-holding visitors to get free verbal appraisals. However, they may limit the number of items you are allowed to have appraised for free.

 

A Professional Appraisal
This is another way to get an appraisal for your items, should you be in possession of an item which you believe to be very valuable. You can employ the service of a professional appraiser who will issue a written estimate of your item. A professional appraiser is the best place to get an accurate price for your items. There are appraisers whose field is limited to a specific category such as artworks, vintage collections, etc. Additionally, you should note that a written appraisal generally will charge upwards of $150 or more per hour.

 

Online research for the Value
In the digital age, it is pretty easy to get a general idea of the value of an item by making use of the internet. Here are just a few ways you can research the value of your items online…

  • Check the labeling; this is used to identify the object, from the label you can get helpful information such as the manufacturer, year of manufacture, etc.
  • Search for the item online; using an online marketplace like eBay, Amazon, Bonanza. You can also make use of online pricing resources such as invaluable.com. You can make use of the advanced search features to narrow down your search using terms like “completed sales” to get the actual retail price of the item.
  • Take a picture and post your item to appropriate groups on Facebook, Reddit and/or Quora.

 

Once you settle on a price for the items won in your self-storage auction you can decide on the ways you would like to sell them.