Monday, June 27, 2011

Storage Locker Blues

Today, I finally decided to get back to my ongoing project in Akron, Ohio, the storage locker. You have seen the clothes, the packed unit and the huge cache of money that we found in a small chest. My return trip produced no treasures, only trash. Today's pickings; a closed refrigerator, a grease filled washer, a stove and a dryer.

Let's start with the stove. Most people use stoves for cooking, a few people use them for heating their homes and this stove must have been used as an alternative food storage area. I say this because the top is encrusted with a heavy coating of leftover food. The entire top is covered with several layers of soups, cheeses, various greases / fats and of course a huge grouping of I don't know what to call it. All of this fine storage coupled with several broken elements makes this a prize ready for only the finest homes. Apparently among the now ninety plus bags of clothing items they didn't have a single rag to wipe off the stove with.

The grease filled washer is something that I can honestly say I have never seen before. Just how do you get a heavy coating of some type of greasy substance on the inside of a washer that you never used? I know that they didn't actually use it because there was not a single piece of clothing that was clean. The heavy film will probably need a good strong dose of ammonia to put any type of dent in it.

The dryer, full of dust, need I say anymore.

But the coup de grace is the refrigerator. Anytime that you enter a storage locker and see a closed door refrigerator or freezer you know that you are in for a treat. When a refrigerator is in operation, closing the door and keeping it closed are absolutely the correct thing to do. When they are shut off, not such a good idea. Experience has taught me to remove the refrigerator from the storage locker before opening the door. Take my word for it this is the best way to do it because people often leave items in the refrigerators when they store them, remember we are not always dealing with the cream of the crop when it comes to people who rent these units.

After removing it from the building I was ready (kind of ) to proceed. Viewing the lush black fungus that had accumulated on and around the door seals still didn't prepare me for the mess that was contained within. In all of my years I have never seen the inside of a refrigerator that had turned completely black. The white sides...black, the clear plastic bins...black, the door seal...black and on and on it went. The leftover pickle jars were permanently affixed to the shelves by a furry black mold. I'm just not sure that there is enough Clorox in the world to fix this one. I'm sure that the scrap yard is going to discount the weight of the appliances to allow for the growth both on, in and around them.

So, how have I done on this locker so far? Pretty bad. I am expecting to loose around $300 after I include the trips back and forth to Akron to pick up the contents.

But, don't cry for me. I purchased 3 other storage lockers and two cars in the last 6 days. I am going to do very well on the other 3 lockers and the cars...who knows! The joys of being a junk dealer. I will add some photo's tomorrow after the final day of cleaning out the locker.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Storage Lockers, The WOW Factor!

The WOW factor, Darrel talks about it all of the time on Storage Wars. Today, I experienced it myself. After 3 days of diligent digging, prying and moving dirty clothing it finally happened, the big WOW!

The big WOW occurred moments after a pair of women's size 28 underwear came tumbling out of a bag directly into my face, I found this chest full of money!!! I've witnessed it on the shows but never really had it happen to me. Today was my day.

After careful examination for booby traps, hidden locks and the dreaded attack dog I gingerly opened the treasure box. I was in at state of absolute shock when the cash started tumbling out.

Three dollars and eighty cents. WOW! Almost enough to buy a Happy Meal at McDonald's.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Storage Locker, Goodwill Here We Come!

When Daryl, Dave, Barry, Jarrod and Brandon purchase storage lockers all you really ever hear about are the great things that they find. Inevitably there's a scene of Barry throwing things all over the place or Dave with his crew of thousands going through each and every pocket finding nothing but treasures. They never show the massive volume of totally useless garbage that most of these units really hold. Being adapt at getting rid of "everything else" is one of the key issues with buying storage lockers. I use a variety of avenues; auctions, flea markets, Craigslist and Goodwill are just a few that I utilize.

The first order of business, extending the time limits on getting everything out. In many cases this can be one of your best defenses against making a major mistake. In other cases (like this one) it is the only prayer you have of cleaning it out. I do not have a cast of thousands, I have me (and sometimes Stephanie), myself and I. This complimented with a 5' x 8' open trailer is how I remove everything. Rainy days are potential nightmares, the open trailer limits me to sunny days only. So time is always an issue. I solved it this time by taking advantage of the first 30 days rent free policy of this particular storage company. Its real simple, sign the contract, pay $22 and give notice prior to the first 30 days expiration, and its free!

So, now I have additional time. So here is what I saw both when I purchased the locker and today.

The first clue that maybe I was in over my head...LOCKER 13

The second clue that maybe I was in over my head...IT WAS FULL OF DIRTY *%IT!

Actually, this is pretty typical. You don't buy storage lockers because they are pretty. You buy them because you are trying to make money. Every locker is different. Some are neat and clean, some are a mess. This one looked like someone was pissed off. Everything was just thrown in. How it gets there always makes you wonder about what the history is. Did someone die? A messy divorce? Or where they just pigs?

I have a routine that I try to follow on every locker that I purchase, first I get all of the clothing out that I can, next household and general merchandise and finally I remove antiques / anything of value. This plan is often interrupted by finding something cool as your going through everything else. The first day this time, was spent emptying out clothing, shoes and books. Some of the more interesting things that have happened so far; unwashed underwear, dog feces in the clothing and lots of broken stuff. Aside from the dirty underwear it was pretty typical. Most people will leave underwear but it is normally clean underwear, today that was not the case. Bag after bag of clothing came out of the unit. Three trailers full so far

As you can plainly see its not as great as the shows make it seem. It is hard work, followed hopefully by profit. The unfortunate thing is it doesn't always end in profit. Today, three trips to Goodwill, tomorrow...

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Storage Lockers!

It has been a while since I've said anything about storage lockers, today however we begin again. Ever since the advent of the storage auction shows it has been virtually impossible to buy them and make any money. Since I am intellectually gifted (I can count to eleven with visual assistance) I decided since I couldn't outbid them I would sell to them. So the adventure of auctioning storage units began. The problem with this is every other auctioneer in the country also wants to sell the storage lockers. Easy money? Yeah, pretty much. But recently the tide has begun to change.

The craze isn't over. But it has subsided significantly. A few short months ago I wrote about a storage auction that had over 200 people in attendance. Today, I went to a group of storage auctions that had no more than 12 people in attendance. The result...I may have actually made some money.

The first 5 lockers looked like trash that absolutely no one would want. One unit had a glass top table and nothing else. Another unit had a lawn mower, 4 bald mud tires and a life size personal vinyl blow up doll. The doll did spike interest in the unit and it garnered final bid of $10. The gentlemen who bought it was all smiles and stated that he was going to give it to a friend as a gag gift. Yeah, sure.

Finally, we arrived at unit number 6. The door drawn upward with a great deal of effort revealed a unit that was filled to the maximum. Boxes were literally falling out as the door went upward. Amazed I asked "How deep is the locker?", the answer was it measured 10' x 20'. It just had to be good!

I opened the bidding at $100. Someone bid $105. Not really feeling like going in $5 increments I next bid $200. The next bid $205. This went on for a while, finally, I ended up paying $525 for the locker. I literally had to force the contents back into the unit in order to close the door. I slipped my lock on and proceeded to the next unit.

Dog pee. A lot of it. That was the only thing that I knew about the next locker. It smelled so bad (helped along by the 95 degree temperature) that I could not bring myself to bid on it. The final winning offer, $1. I hope that the person who bought it has a high tolerance for the smell of urine.

The last location had 3 units available. The first looked intriguing. It had a mounted deer head, bedroom furniture and miscellaneous in boxes. I really wasn't too enthused about this one and it sold for a final bid of $110. The next unit wound up being mine. It just looked right. A safe on the floor, gun sights in plain view, tools and totes of who knows what. I opened it at $25, the five dollar bidders were out again and after 10 total bids I purchased it for $250.

Then the last locker. It WAS A DOUBLE! Huge units usually mean lots of great stuff! The doors opened to reveal a locker full of doors, old shelving, packing blankets and cabinet bases. I jokingly said that if anyone wanted to bid on the unit that I would give them $10 for the blankets. No one bid.

As we were returning to the office to make payment the unit was re offered to me for $1 and I could take what I wanted. Extremely low risk, I accepted. Under normal circumstances you are required to remove everything. Since all I had to do was take what I wanted (I offered $10 for the blankets) this one should turn out to be fantastic.

So, starting at 5:00 am tomorrow I will begin the adventure of cleaning out the 3 lockers that I purchased. For me a lot of work, hopefully with money to be made in the end. For you the chance to live vicariously and see what really happens on the adventures of a habitual junk buyer. Stay tuned. I'll take lots of photo's and try to describe the the good, the bad and the ugly.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Kasich Crimes

So Governor Kasick has decided that the auction industry is not exempt from his absolutey restrictive thinking. HB 114 which is for Transportation has a piece of legislation that restricts free business practices for auctioneers. It is my guess that he must have had a major campaign contributor who is in the auction industry. There is simply no logical reason to put this piece of legislation into law.

Very simply the law was snuck through as an attachment to a bill that otherwise has nothing to do with the auction industry (American politics at its best). The law states that an auctioneer must have a property of over 90 acres and a building of not less that 60,000 feet in order to conduct auctions of construction equipment. It may seem silly to many of you that I am complaining about this, but if you had told me two weeks ago that I would be conducting the sale of two model C Steinway piano's at the same time you would understand my concern.

Restricting the auction industry so that only a few individuals (or companies ) can conduct business is nothing more that pandering to your donors. A law such as this only serves to restrict trade and allow monopolies to exist. The end result will be higher cost to sellers and a very restricted market place for buyers. Plain and simple anyone who has ever considered purchasing or selling at auction should be outraged at Kasich and the Ohio Legislature for allowing such a restrictive law to be passed.

I firmly believe in Ohio auction law and fully support the Department of Agriculture in regulating those laws. I completely and fully disagree with restrictive legislation that will do absolutely nothing to improve the industry. This law achieves one thing an one thing only, it prohibits free trade.

Attached is a copy of my letter to Representatives Hagan and Gerberry, and to State Senator Schiavoni.

Mr, Gerberry,

House Bill 114 is scheduled to become effective on June 29, 2011. I was recently made aware that HB 114 has a section pertaining to auctioneers. As an auctioneer licensed by the State of Ohio Department of Agriculture I am very concerned about the restrictive nature of this bill. The legislation contains a regulation that restricts auctioneers from conducting auctions of construction equipment. It requires that auctioneers have an auction site of over 90 acres and an auction facility of over 60,000 square feet before they can conduct auctions of construction equipment.

I am not sure why this legislation ever passed. This represents a gross inequity that will allow only a very few auctioneers to conduct auctions of such equipment. Due to its highly restrictive nature I am imploring you to seek an amendment correcting this unreasonable requirement.

The auction industry is well regulated by the Department of Agriculture when it concerns the day to day operations and consumer safety. This unfair law will allow a very select group of businessmen to control (monopolize) an important section of the industry.


David Dangerfield

Monday, June 6, 2011

Steinway, Model C

Since my last posting I have had several inquiries about the Steinway. The only one so far that is worth letting you know about is a question, "How many keys does it have?".

At first I thought that this was a stupid question, because I knew that all piano's have 88 keys. But, considering that it came from several different people and that they were all experts, I had to believe that it was a valid question. So, I did some checking and as it turns out not all Steinway's have 88 keys. Many were produced with 85 keys. I would think that someone spending a lot of money on a piano would want all 88 keys so I contacted the owners and asked if they would mind counting the number of keys on their piano.

After extensive counting and using advanced accounting methods the owners determined that the piano did in fact have 88 keys. I'm hoping that the three keys are worth an additional sum of money. Still no offers, but this can be a patient mans game.