Like any job or hobby, auction-hunting takes practice. Some things can be learned only through experience; practice really can make perfect.
Still, you can give yourself an advantage by avoiding some of the most obvious mistakes. Not only will you save time and energy, you’ll also keep from annoying other bidders at auctions.
1. Bring Cash.
Auctions must be paid in cash, not check or credit card. You won’t be able to head to the ATM after you win a bid, so be sure you have enough cash to pay for anything you buy. Some companies allow for credit cards, but better to be safe than sorry.
2. Bidding on Units You Don’t Want
Bidding up the competition might make for interesting TV, but it’s a bad idea in real life. You might end up winning a unit you didn’t want. Never make a bid unless you’d be OK bringing home the contents from that unit. Storage Facilities do have the capability of banning you if you bid on and don’t pay or collect your unit in a timely manner.
3. Bring Your Own Locks!
After you win the bid on a unit, you’ll need to put your own lock on it. While you can buy locks from the facility, they can be costly. It’s smarter to bring plenty of locks—and remember to color-code the keys to keep track of your units.
4. Please do not bid on every Unit You See
An auction isn’t a failure if you don’t buy a unit. It’s a failure if you end up losing money on stuff you can’t resell. Bid smart, and think before buying anything.
5. Family is great, but they can be a hinderence.
Small children, bored teenagers and impatient spouses all can turn an auction into an unpleasant experience—for you, your family and everyone around you. Auctions are hot, time-consuming, dirty and occasionally quite boring. Leave the kids at home.
6. Have somewhere to Store Your Items
Once you win a unit, you’ll need to be able to load it up and haul it away or be prepared to store it at the facility. Either way, don’t bid on anything if you don’t know where you’ll put it.
7. Know Which Items Are Worth Buying
If you haven’t done any research on which items are selling well in the resale market, you won’t know a treasure when you see one. Participating in an auction forum is a great way to learn about antiques and collectibles. Take the time to figure out which items are valuable and keep an eye out for them at every auction you attend. But beware, the market for those items change nearly as fast as the wind, so what is a great market today is not so much tomorrow.
8. Dress Appropriately
Remember that you could be coping with extreme temperatures, crawling through dusty units, battling cobwebs, or lifting heavy boxes and other items. Wear clothes that are comfortable and that you don’t mind getting dirty. Also, be sure to wear good shoes that’ll protect your toes and support your back while you’re on your feet all day. Dressing in inappropriate “hipster” attire is also not recommended as it is likely to draw inappropriate attention.
9. Bring a Big Enough Vehicle
Unless you’re planning on immediately renting the unit you just bought, you’ll need a vehicle big enough to haul away the stuff you buy. This might include furniture, appliances and even trash. If you don’t already have a pickup or large SUV, you might want to look into renting a truck.
10. You won’t make a Profit on Every Unit
No matter how careful you are, you won’t always be able to turn a profit on a unit. You have to keep a sense of humor about bad investments, or the storage auction business will drive you crazy. Learn from your mistakes and move on.