How to make money selling items found in storage units?

A cluttered living environment has negative effects on your mental and physical health. It can make you nervous, stressed, and depressed.

Many studies have shown that cortisol (stress hormone) levels get significantly higher if you live in a cluttered home. This is why we can say that decluttering your home has much to do with self-care. However, decluttering means throwing away old stuff and people usually hate that. In most cases, we decide to put all that old stuff away in storage units for (maybe) some other time. This is mainly because people are afraid of change. 

Many people will temporarily rent a storage unit so they can slowly go through the decluttering process and keep their house (or the apartment) clean and tidy. However, when people are not responsible or they miss their monthly storage rent or leave belongings behind, those items can be sold to the public through an auction.

Storage unit auctions

Last weekend, I had a nice long conversation with a guy who works at a man and van company. We started talking about the job opportunities in London so he mentioned some interesting TV shows in which people earn money by selling old items found in storage units. He told me that most of the things we see in those TV shows are real but not on the scale presented in them. You can’t turn everything you find there into some kind of a financial asset. But you have to know what you are doing to make money.

Find storage unit auctions

Storage facilities hold auctions several times per month. They don’t do any marketing for this so you have to contact storage facilities in the area you are interested in to learn when they are having those storage-unit auctions. You may find all the info you need on their websites.

These auctions are usually attended by a small number of people who partake in storage auctions. In most cases, they are professionals and do this as a part-time job. However, storage auctions can be attended by the general public and almost anyone can earn money from this. 

Calculations start once you open the storage unit

After the lock has been cut and the door opened, everyone can take a look at what has been left behind by the previous owners of the storage unit. You can’t touch anything, you can’t open the boxes, you can just assume what exactly is hiding in the storage. The professionals will see boxes, their sizes, and shapes, and automatically start adding in their minds the possible value of the items that are in the storage unit. These calculations are always wild guesses and the find rarely ends up exactly what you had hoped for.

The auctions are conducted like any other form of auctions and are usually led by a professional auctioneer. The minimum bid for this kind of auctions is usually $50 and you raise the bid by raising your hand in the air. Most auctions are usually sold for a couple of hundred dollars.

Set a spending limit for yourself

First, you need to know your limits. You should set a spending limit and you can easily do this by assigning a dollar amount to each box you see in a unit. For example, if you assume that each box in a unit is worth $20 and there are 10 boxes in a unit, the value would be about $200.

You need a large vehicle

These storage units are usually full. You will need a truck or a van to separate trash from “treasure”. Renting a vehicle in advance will save you some money when you decide to buy an abandoned storage unit. You also need to be careful about the time because most storage unit sales usually require you to pay cash and clear out the unit within 24 to 48 hours.

Treasure hunting

This is the most interesting part. Once you’ve successfully purchased the unit you will need to begin the process of sorting valuable items from junk. You are also responsible for cleaning out the entire unit and for disposing of everything that is considered to be trash. 

The process of opening these boxes almost feels like opening Christmas presents. You never know what you will find. Among other things, you can find old DVDs and CDs but you can also find some valuable collector items like dolls, magazines, weapons, tools, gold, or even money!

Now you just need to find the right buyers who need the items you found in the storage unit (collectors, enthusiasts, etc.).