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Are you ready to Auction? Collectibles, antiques, storage wars

Posted Monday, April 9, 2012, at 7:54 AM

Shelbyville's version of Storage Wars by EWP
The season has already started and from what I have seen so far, you're ready Bedford County!

I have to be careful not to do an outright advertisement for folks, but most auctions of any importance are advertised in the Times-Gazette so everyone is getting their due.

While I should be HOLDING an auction, I still watch the listings carefully since Deb & I never know when we'll find just the thing we need,.....well...want.

Something I have been following closely are these reality shows about storage auctions and a few weeks ago I went to my first one here in Bedford County. Except for the TV personalities and cameras, it was just like you see. This may differ at some auctions, since it is apparently not a procedure set by law.

The lock is cut off, you have a limited amount of time to look at what is inside from OUTSIDE and then take your best shot. The talk in the crowd before the auction can be enlightening, so if you go, spend a little extra time to socialize and most importantly, listen.

In general, the consensus is that prices are higher resulting from the popularity of the TV shows, but they are still there hoping for the discovery of something great under that canvas or plastic.

That is not just hype, there were several storage units that had "something" under big sheets of plastic or tarps and I wonder what people would have paid for X-ray vision.

One of the things I liked about this is that I could browse the other auctions early, identify those with promise, go to the storage auctions, (they move quickly) and be back at the other auctions before too much tome has passed.

Units ranged from $100 to $500 +- and there is another sale coming up this Saturday, but since I have not seen an ad for it yet, I will have to refrain from giving details.

Maybe I will see you there, but remember to bring a replacement lock for any units you buy and be prepared to get your "stuff" moved out with 24-48 hours. You might be able to re-rent the unit, but those details need to be worked out ahead of time.

If you go to the other auctions, go prepared to get comfortable and enjoy the event. There is usually food available and chairs but you might want to bring your own lawn chair, hat and clothes appropriate for the weather.

A personal note: Please don't smoke under the tent or where smoke will blow into the crowd. Some folks are really sensitive to this and it ruins their experience. Auctioneers used to ask for this courtesy to be observed, but I have not heard it in several years.

If you see your prize but don't have time to wait for them to bring it up, ask the auctioneer if they can move it up for you. Unless there is a specific reason they cannot, they will usually try to accommodate.

Be sure to listen to the terms of the auction or find out before you bid. Some auctions charge a buyer's premium on top of the price you bid. Usually 10%, but if you bid right up to your cash limit, you won't want to find out at the check-out table.

There are other tips for bidding or getting the best prices, so anyone can chime in, if they want to share those secrets. :-)

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I have never been to a storage unit auction, but I used to go to estate auctions pretty regularly. I haven't been to one in about 8 years though. The things I tend to want typically draw a lot of interest, and sell for about what they are worth (sometimes considerably more). I just do not have the time to spend a Saturday morning hoping for a bargain, especially since I usually end up buying things that I do not need, or really even want. I may drop by the sale on Saturday to check it out anyway. I saw the sign when I was getting a box.

I agree with those who report that prices are up, but I will add that actual values are down significantly. Except for the rarer pieces, I have almost completely stopped buying antiques of any type, unless I do not mind keeping it indefinitely.

I don't have any secrets, but my advice is to keep an open mind and to stay late. If you have a good eye, and a little luck, box lots can have some great treasures hidden in them.

-- Posted by memyselfi on Wed, Apr 11, 2012, at 1:44 AM

In a way, I compare staying late for box lots similar to the storage units. You see a little, but never get to look all through the box, so surprises are very likely.

We bought a box lot like that for some hot-melt adhesive we saw. Paid $4-5 for it and got what we wanted, but after we started eBay, we sold a record cleaner from that box for $54 to a person in Australia.

BUT, we also have a lot of things we need to yard-sale. :-)

-- Posted by stevemills on Wed, Apr 11, 2012, at 8:59 PM

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Steve Mills and his wife have one daughter. They previously owned two coffee/ice cream shops, currently operate an internet sales company and teach classes, but his primary job involves the paper industry worldwide. Hobbies and interests lie in gardening, photography, recorded music and of course, their pets.