People all over the country spend their weekends going from storage unit to storage unit. No, they're not looking for a place to store their old furniture. In fact, they're looking to purchase other people's old furniture. And sometimes, much more than that.
When he placed that final bid that won him the contents of a storage container, he didn't know if it was going to be a dream come true, or a nightmare. The man was shocked when he finally found out what was hidden in the container, and he was far from ready when the cops knocked on his door hours later.
The man was finally feeling more comfortable with bidding on storage containers at auctions. When you can't tell what you're buying, spending money you don't really have is a huge gamble. But there are so many stories of people making it big, though. Some people have even found entire classic cars inside of a storage unit!
So far the man had been lucky. He was able to sell all of the contents for a little bit more than he paid for it. Going through someone's old junk takes a lot of work and time. The man had to sort it, clean it, and then find the right buyer for every item. But the man was close to being done, and if there was nothing big in this unit, he was finished.
Joe was outside of the container with approximately 20 other people, eager to see what was inside. These units could hold the contents of a one bedroom apartment. They were great for holding furniture, such as a couch, chair, and dining room table, as well as bicycles, sports equipment, and business equipment. But it wasn't too great for looking around to see if you want to spend hundreds of dollars on it.
The bidding wasn't exactly what you see on TV. There was no drama, pushing, screaming or yelling, but it was still fun. It was especially entertaining when he got into a bidding war with another person. He liked winning, it felt good. But he had to constantly remind himself to stick to his budget. He always told himself not to spend what he couldn't afford to lose, and he didn't want to learn the hard way.
But Joe just couldn't help himself this time. The container was packed so tight with furniture and other things that he needed to get a closer look. But some woman kept upping the bid on him. It started at a high bid of $100, but it was so full that he had to bet. But every time he placed a bid, she would raise it again. This continued for quite a while. Would it ever stop?
At $350, Joe was convinced he was going to be the winner. When the bid rose to $400, she was still going, but so was he. $450. $460. $470. And finally, $500. Joe was a bit shaken. As he began to realize what he had just done, he was a wreck. There most certainly better be something in that unit worth $500 because it was his now.
Joe had just spent $500 on this storage unit, and the possibility of it having absolutely no worth was extremely high. Would Joe get lucky? Or did he just throw away $500? He would soon find out that his life was about to get a little intense.
Now that someone had bought the unit, everyone started to walk away. There was nothing in the unit to see for people who didn't win anything. But there were a few people who stayed behind to watch the new owner enter the unit. Once they saw what he had won, they began to wish they would've kept bidding.
Joe walked into the 5 x 15 unit he had just purchased. It was full to the brim with old furniture, but there was a clear enough path for him to walk through. The sweat began to drip down his neck and forehead as he realized that the furniture alone wouldn't cover the cost of the unit. There had to be something else in the unit that was valuable, so he began looking.
Storage units can hold a wide variety of other people's belongings or their secrets. People have reported finding human bodies, valuable art, and even missing murder weapons. Would Joe find something valuable or something sinister hiding within the walls of the storage unit?
It didn't exactly jump out at him as it would in a movie, especially since it was just a grey container sitting on the floor next to a dresser. But Joe didn't need a fancy CGI to show him what a safe looked like. He knew that he most likely wouldn't be able to find a key, so he called some friends to help him open the safe.
After getting a power drill, they were able to drill down into the lock to force it to open. What they found left everyone in a state of shock. As soon as he took the lid off, Joe was taken by surprise by all of the $50 bills sitting right on top. Joe literally fell over from shock. As he got to his feet, Joe began pulling out bundle after bundle of money.
Things weren't going to go smoothly for Joe and his find. It wasn't even two hours after his find that police were knocking on his front door, and uniformed men were all over the storage container. What had Joe gotten himself into? Honestly, the money could be from anything, but who has that kind of money shoved into a safe?
Joe only paid $500 for this storage unit. A storage unit that would produce way more than that. But what happened to the owners? Had they simply forgotten about the unit? Or were they trying to get out of trouble by pretending the unit wasn't theirs? Joe would soon find out.
Joe realized that in his excitement he had sent pictures to his girlfriend. He had also uploaded pictures of what he had found to all of his social media accounts. There was no wonder that the police showed up. He hadn't counted all of the cash, but he knew there was a lot. Currently, he was up to $1 million. He took himself away from the money to talk to the police.
In total, there was $7.5 million stuffed in safes all over the container. Joe had found everything from nickels to $100 bills to pink slips for vehicles. But there was one problem. The owner of the storage unit had found out about Joe's find and hired big lawyers to help get back his money. Joe was in for a fight.
Once the police arrived, things started moving very quickly. The lawyers called Joe to tell him that he had to return the money, but he could keep $600,000 of it as a finder's fee. Joe had a lot of thinking to do.
Once Joe consulted with his friends, he realized that in the state of California, once a unit is bought, the contents no longer belonged to the original owner. Joe had full rights to everything in the unit! He did purchase it fair and square, after all. But the original owner's lawyers weren't going to give up.
The lawyers, acting like they were doing Joe a good service, upped the finder's fee to $1,200,000 and they were ready to play hardball. What were these people capable of? Joe couldn't help but wonder how someone "forgot" about $7.5 million dollars in a storage rental. Couldn't be someone good, but how bad were things going to get for Joe?
So Joe was only going to walk away with $1.2 million? That's A LOT of money, but not nearly as much as Joe had recently held in his hands while he was pulling wad after wad of money out of the storage unit. Joe didn't like that he was being pushed around, but he was stuck in a moral dilemma, as well. It was technically his money, but he didn't actually earn it. Maybe he should give it back. But that wasn't really sitting well with him.
After thinking it over and receiving threats, Joe decided that splitting the money down the middle would be more than fair. Especially considering that the previous owners hadn't paid for the container for more than a few months. In fact, they had ignored letters sent by the store owners for almost a year. And their debt was actually why Joe was able to buy the contents to begin with.
“I really don’t make much money out of auctions – it’s to try to cover our expense. 90 percent of the time I don’t cover my losses. One unit may have cost me $600 and the person bids at $400, so my revenue has still suffered a loss. An unpaid unit does not make any money. The sooner the delinquent tenant can be moved out, the sooner a paying tenant can move in," explained a storage owner.
Of course, not every person will find a fortune when they start going to storage unit auctions. And most people never will. But it's the possibility of what a person could find that keeps people going back for more.