Storage Auctions: The Adult Version of Easter Egg Hunting?

The best part of Easter?  My family’s annual Easter egg hunt. It was such an adventure to find all the plastic eggs hidden around the yard stuffed to the brim with candy and stickers and other treats that kids go coo-coo for coca puffs over.

ImageSuddenly, I went from your average child, bopping around the yard all hopped up on too much sugar, into something else entirely. Suddenly I thought I was Blackbeard sailing the high seas in search of my buried treasure.

The yard was my Treasure Island, and any landlubbers (cousins, siblings, or children of family friends) who got in my way would soon be having to walk the plank! Arrrrgh! I took weird self-satisfaction in winning year after year. So maybe I was (am) a little overly competitive. So what? So what if I still plan to beat my 8 year old brother this year? He’s a freakishly smart child. He can hack it. Besides, I’m helping to build his character. Some would say that literally taking candy from a baby should take the fun out of it. I would have to disagree and say it makes the candy taste even sweeter. Mwahahaha. (So in two short paragraphs I’ve morphed from Blackbeard into Dr. Evil. It happens.)

It now strikes me that auction hunting is not dissimilar to the annual Easter egg hunts of my youth. A group of people all come together to outsmart one another in the hunt for unseen treasure and potential riches.

Over the years, I developed a keen eye during the egg hunts. Flattened grass? A clue! Misplaced pile of dirt? Another clue! Fallen tree debris, like small branches and twigs around the trunk of a tree? Clue! But let’s be honest. My parents weren’t that clever or invested. By the time I was 10 I had just memorized their normal hiding spots from previous hunts gone by.

Similarly, there are some tell-tale clues within each storage locker you come across that can be used time and again to give you an idea of the conditions of the contents within the locker.

ImageProfessional Moving Boxes/Plastic Bins:  During my many college adventures, I spent a lot of time packing and unpacking. My all-time favorite moving aid? U-Haul’s Smart Move Tape. Essentially, it was regular old rolls of masking tape, but with handy labels printed on them, such as Kitchen, Bathroom, Bedroom, Fragile, etc. I moved about 10 times in 4.5 years. That tape made my life just a little bit easier as I schlepped my stuff around the same 60 mile radius over and over again. (Isn’t the definition of insanity doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results?)  There wasn’t much of value in my boxes, besides a pretty sweet DVD collection.  But often, storage renters who have taken the time to box their items, or have had their items professionally moved have valuables hidden inside. Keep an eye peeled for professional moving boxes, as well as plastic Tupperware bins as these offer protection from bugs and the elements better than you might expect for just about anything that may be inside.

Dust: Keep an eye out for units with lots of dust. I know this seems counter intuitive  because who wants to deal with a pile of dust. Especially if you have allergies like I do! But strap on a doctor’s mask and don’t forget the Zyrtec. If you find a unit caked in dust, it may be worth the allergy attack to see what’s inside! If a unit is covered in dust, this is a good indication that it hasn’t been touched recently. Meaning, the previous owners didn’t remove anything, and the contents of the unit may be older, IE Vintage and Antique items that can be sold online, to auction houses , or to local antique dealers in your area.


Cleanliness: Take a look inside a unit before bidding to see if the items inside are arranged neatly and orderly, or if it looks like a free for all in there. If a unit looks disheveled, this means one of two things. 1. The previous owner has ransacked the place and already removed anything valuable before the auction. 2. The previous owner rented the unit, and dumped everything inside all willy nilly. Either way, what this means for you is that the item may not be worth your hard earned moolah. (Monopoly money or otherwise) On the flip side, if a unit looks neat and organized, not only does it make it easier to sort and review all the contents when you win, but there may be some great treasure inside.

Wrapped Furniture: While you may not have much of a chance to review a unit as thoroughly as you’d like before bidding begins, large pieces of furniture are usually easy to spot. If you are able to see items that have been plastic wrapped or at the very least have been covered by moving blankets, sheets, or bed spreads, that furniture is more than likely somewhat valuable and/or in fairly good condition and will be easily resalable.

Climate Control: Most storage units are not climate controlled. Many times, people only seek out climate controlled units if they are storing items of value that could be damaged by heat, humidity, or cold. Take for example, the unit that contained an upright piano that was won during the first auction I attended. If the previous unit owner went out of their way to make sure that they were renting a climate controlled unit, this is a good sign that it will be worth it to cast your bid.

Photo Credits:

Easter Eggs:


Monopoly Money:

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