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By Chris Malta & Robin Cowie

Storage unit companies regularly seize abandoned goods and auction them off in an effort to reclaim some of their lost profits. Many online retailers are cashing in, using these auctions as a product source for their e-businesses. According to enthusiast Blaine Herbst, founder of

, You can pick up an entire storage unit filled with things for a couple hundred bucks. Finding these auctions can be as easy as looking in the yellow pages under storage units and calling to see when they conduct their sales. Or check out


for information on local auction times.

What Questions Should I Ask?

Before you sign up for an auction, make sure youre aware of any costs, such as fees for attendance or cleaning deposits. Ask if there are buyers premiums usually about 5-10% of total price, that goes to the auctioneer so you can calculate that into your bid amount. Find out if their policy includes a Pending Owners Approval clause. This clause allows the facility owner to look at the winning bids and decide if he wants to sell at those prices

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the auction’s over. You dont want to waste your time with someone whos not serious about selling.

How Do I Know What Its Worth?

With most storage unit auctions, everything in the unit is sold off for one price. The door to the facility is opened and bidders can look in from outside but cant touch anything. Advises Herbst, There are some strategies you can use to try and gauge the contents.

Look at the area the auctions in

. People dont usually store things too far from their homes if the facilitys located in a high-end area, theres a good chance that the items being stored are high-end too.

Look for moving company boxes

, rather than boxes from various grocery stores. Moving companies are expensive, so that can be a clue that the previous owners may have had nice things.

If theres furniture, look to see the quality and the shape its in

. Bring a cordless spotlight to help you see into the back of the unit.

What Will I Need?

When you come to a storage unit auction, come prepared:

Bring cash because thats the only type of payment theyll accept.

Bring a truck, or a trailer and a vehicle with a hitch youll have to have everything cleared out that day.

Bring a lock to secure the unit in case you need to leave for lunch, or have to make more than one trip.

Bring a dolly, tarps, bungee cords, and blankets to wrap your purchases.

Bring gloves and a breathing mask. Sorting through everything can be a dusty task.

Bring your tax ID, if you have one; otherwise, youll pay taxes on your purchase.

The beauty of storage unit auctions is they let you buy items at a fraction of their value so you can charge competitive prices and still have plenty of room to make a profit.

About the Author: Product Sourcing Radio is Created and Hosted by Chris Malta and Rob Cowie of, Home of OneSource: The Internet’s Largest Source of Genuine, Factory-Direct Wholesalers for online sellers.

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