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San Diego Storage Auctions

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Posted on September 6, 2014

How to Make Money at San Diego Storage Auctions

There’s little doubt that we’re all a bit more familiar with storage auctions after the onslaught of TV shows covering them over the last few years (there were four of them the last time we checked). In viewing the shows, bidding and buying at the auctions seems like a good way to make a great living. But is it as easy it as it looks on these “reality” shows?

In any average week, there are a handful of storage auctions being held throughout San Diego County. While there are numerous places to find listings of upcoming local auctions, a good place to view current schedules is Auction Zip. At some auctions, the facility might only have one or two storage units up for sale, while others may literally have dozens. Don’t read too much into the wide range as there are numerous, valid reasons for the difference (How often do they hold auctions? How aggressive are they with their collection efforts? How many total units do they have in their facility? etc.). While a larger number of units up for sale will obviously increase the odds of finding some valuable goods to bid on, there will also likely be an increase in the number of bidders due to the availability of numerous units. That aside, we suggest limiting your auction searches to those that have a minimum of 10 units or more.

Once you’ve identified the auction(s) that you’d like to attend in your area, plan on showing up at least 15 minutes early as you’ll need to complete a brief registration process with the auctioneer. Additionally bring a flashlight. At most auctions, including those in San Diego and throughout California, you’ll be able to look inside each unit., however you won’t be able to touch anything (nor will you be able to actually enter the unit). As such, a flashlight comes in handy when you’re trying to view items towards the back of the unit. Also remember to bring cash. Although occasionally you’ll find some storage facilities that are willing to accept credit cards (for a processing fee), cash is indeed king at auctions.

While viewing the contents, try to avoid quickly categorizing something as “junk.” You’d be amazed at how many times such “worthless” items have actually turned out to be quite valuable. For example, at a recent San Diego auction, an old (50+ years) trunk was up for auction. Most bidders quickly passed over it due to its ragged condition, but one was fortunate enough to identify a small Louis Vuitton logo on it. Year ago, Louis Vuitton items weren’t plastered with their company logo on every inch of the item as they often are today.  He turned out to be the winning bidder and quickly made over $4,000 on the sale of that single storage unit (an 1800% return on his $220 purchase price).

So while the reality shows certainly make it look easier than it is, there are indeed many successful bidders in the storage auction industry. Many consider their auction bidding a full time job – and a lucrative one.  Happy bidding!