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I Hit The Jackpot Buying Storage Unit Contents…NOT!!!

I’ve heard over the years that buying the contents of storage units can yield unexpected treasures. There are urban legends of people who find diamond rings inside boxes of junk.

A while back there was an auction of the contents of abandoned storage units near me so I decided to check it out. It was a cold winter’s day. Auction-goers milled around, sipped hot coffee and slapped their hands together to stay warm. At 10am sharp, the auctioneer emerged from a warm hut and handed out a list of the unit numbers to be auctioned. We were not allowed to preview the contents of the units or inspect anything prior to the sale. We literally followed the auctioneer from unit to unit…he’d pull up the door….we’d peer inside and the auction would begin.

The first sale was of a large unit full of mechanic’s equipment and tools. I’m not a tool girl myself so I watched the proceedings. The crowd mumbled that it was a good unit with a lot of “money in those tools”. A man won the unit’s contents for a few hundred dollars and he seemed happy.

We proceeded to the next unit. The auctioneers slid up the door and showed a space packed from floor to ceiling with neatly marked moving boxes. Boxes were fitted in the space like puzzle pieces. Well, in my head, if anyone took such time and care to pack the unit so well, there must be something worth saving in there. I won the contents for $250.00.

The crowd strolled away and left me staring at my new belongings. I opened one box. A dirty “pleather” coat. I opened another box. A greasy George Foreman grill. Another box. Fifteen-year-old tax returns. Squelching my rising panic, I wondered how I was going to dispose of this mountain of junk. Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you that buyers had to have everything gone by day’s end and weren’t allowed to use the dumpsters on the property. And, I’d come to the auction in a small convertible. (Great planning on my part, huh?)

An “angel” showed up to help me…. This little old guy, wearing an army coat and a ratty hat, wandered up and asked me if he could have a box of stuffed animals. I said, “Do you want this, and this, and this?” He took 90% of the storage unit’s contents off my hands. We spent hours sorting and loading boxes in his old van. He saved me.

Would I buy the contents of a storage unit in the future? Heck, no!!! I sped away from there, feeling lucky that I got away as easily as I had….laughing at my own stupidity.