Local storage auctions attract amateur treasure hunters

By Christie Post - email

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) –  Friday morning, a crowd of nearly 100 people filled the grounds of All American Storage in Lubbock. They came to bid on the contents of storage units that cash-strapped people have abandoned after falling behind on payments.

Due in part to the popularity of the A&E television series "Storage Wars," storage auctions are becoming increasingly popular with amateur treasure hunters from all walks of life.  Full units can go at auction for as little as $100 and as much as $700.

The catch? While bidders can look in the open doors of the units, they can't enter, open boxes or inspect any of the contents stacked inside.

"A lot of times you buy a shed that has a lot of broke stuff. But that one down there, it has a lot of tools and things that we don't have and need for our flea market," said auction regular Martin Jordan.

"Why they left it here is beyond me," said Justin Hart, another storage auction enthusiast. "Sometimes you can tell people have moved or just forgot about the unit. I did buy a unit once where somebody had just passed away, and there was two inches of dirt on the ground."

But it is what's beneath the dirt and blankets and boxes that can make it all worthwhile. Each unit has a different story to tell, a story bidders can't know until they pay for the privilege.

"I found a portable DVD player, I found a camcorder, a leather chair that was hidden underneath a blanket. We've got a dresser with a nice mirror on it. Plus a very, very large collection of Xena," said Hart.

"The only mistake I feel I've made is I didn't do this 60 years ago," said Jordan.

Sometimes storage unit enthusiasts said it can be hard to sort through strangers items.

"There's a lot of pictures and a lot of personal items left. I usually hang on to those in case they surface and want them back," said Hart.

Some hope to profit from someone else's loss, but with the growing popularity of the auctions some said it's not what it used to be.

"One shed went for $500. Two years ago it was about $250 a shed. 15 years ago it was a $20 a shed," said Jordan.

Even with more people showing up to the auctions, Jordan said it's all about the luck of the find.

"You do it for the love," said Hart.

All American Storage said they plan to have another auction in May, it all depends on how many people fail to pay for their storage units. For more information go to http://www.allamericanstorageauctions.com/page1

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