Reality Or Not? Inside A Real Storage War

“Storage auctions are a hassle for facility owners and managers—and rarely are they a significant windfall for bidders"


Real storage auctions are nothing like you see on reality TV.

That’s the case writer Nick Diulio makes in a fascinating new article for The SpareFoot Blog.

“Storage auctions are a hassle for facility owners and managers—and rarely are they a significant windfall for bidders,” he writes.

“While reality TV shows like STORAGE WARS may foster the impression that storage auctions are a get-rich-quick scheme, the true reality often is more closely related to financial necessity.”

Diulio takes his readers to an actual auction in Buena, NJ where there are no television cameras and the contents of the day’s first locker sell for just $10.

“I lost my job awhile back. And my husband is disabled. So we do this to try to make a little extra money,” one bidder tells him.

You’d have to believe in unicorns to think that most reality shows are actually real — especially when they involve bidding on items left behind in self storage bins.

In 2012, one “cast member” from STORAGE WARS even sued the show’s producers for planting items to make the contents more exciting.

Auctions themselves are a legal mandate, the author explains:

Once a tenant is 31 days behind on his or her monthly payment, the facility sends a certified letter stating that the unit is in default and will go to auction if the bill isn’t paid within a specified amount of time (usually another 30 days). If the bill goes unpaid, the facility then must advertise the sale of the unit’s contents once a week for two consecutive weeks in a local newspaper. These ads include a general description of the unit’s contents, the address of the facility, the unit number, and the date and location of the auction. And while he’s not required to do so, Zona calls the tenant one last time on the morning of the auction to offer one last chance to pay the bill.

“Even once the tenant is a month behind on his payment, it’s still another six weeks before the auction takes place. It’s quite a long process,” Zolna said. “Even if the unit is filled with one empty box, we still have to go through the entire process, and the downside is that the unit is tied up for more than two months. That’s two months that we’re not making any money on it.”

What’s more, if a unit sells for more than what the tenant owed, the facility is legally obligated to refund the difference, at least under New Jersey law.

It’s an interesting read.   Check out more of the story here.

Would you bid on the items in a storage locker?  Share your thoughts and opinions by leaving a comment below.