Thanks to the popular A&E show Storage Wars, a lot more people are becoming aware of the reality of self-storage auctions. But like with most of what you see on TV, the facts of a real-life storage auction may not be quite like what you expect from the latest episode.

Storage Wars follows teams of professional buyers around the country as they attend self-storage auctions to find good deals on “hidden treasures” that they can resell for big bucks. As with any TV show, the players are larger-than-life and the drama is ramped up to make for compelling viewing.

Real life storage auctions may be less glamorous and prone to emotional fireworks than the ones in Storage Wars, but that doesn’t mean they’re boring! There’s still an aura of mystery around any good storage auction, and there are certainly prizes out there to be found.

So how does a real storage auction work? Well, storage units go up for auction when they’ve been abandoned or defaulted on by their renters. When renters don’t pay their bill, or when they leave without claiming the property in their unit, then after a certain amount of time the contents of the unit can be put up for auction. It’s actually the only legal way for the contents of an abandoned or defaulted unit to be removed, and all the proceeds go to recoup the amount that’s owed. There are also “auction units,” which are a sort of holding tank for stray items that have been left behind by renters over time. The assorted items are collected and stored in a single unit, and then once that unit is full it’s auctioned off like any other unit.

While Storage ‘R’ Us cuts the locks off the units in advance of our sales, just like in Storage Wars the unit remains closed and no one goes in before the sale begins. Those bidding on the unit have to bid only based on what they can see, they’re not allowed to go in and rummage around. Hence, bidding on a storage unit at auction is a little bit like opening a treasure chest; you never know what you might find inside!

What’s commonly found is all of the usual things that you might expect inside a storage unit: appliances, clothes, toys, furniture, but almost anything could be inside, and things like antique cars or motorcycles are not unheard of. While it’s not likely that you’ll find the world’s most valuable comics collection like the people on Storage Wars, you never know!

While storage auctions can be serious business for some people, they can also be a lot of fun. If you decide to come by Storage ‘R’ Us for one of our auctions, make sure you bring along water, comfortable shoes, gloves to dig through your loot, a truck to haul away your winnings, and plenty of cash. You never know when you’ll stumble on a great bargain!