Special Reports

Get in on local storage auctions

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Storage auctions are becoming increasingly popular, thanks in part to a cable reality TV show that profiles these modern-day treasure hunts.

When storage units are abandoned or their owners default on their payments, companies put the items inside on the auction block.

The catch, or perhaps the fun, is before you bid and pay, you don't know exactly what's inside.

So you may end up with junk or you may end up cashing in on things like jewelry, antiques, electronics, and even cars!

For only the past year, treasure hunter Bruce Delarso has been rolling the dice on storage lockers, hoping to hit the jackpot!

"It's all a gamble; I'm a gambler and I like to take that chance," Delarso said.

The rules of the auction only add to the suspense of this bidding war.

Those taking part can only inspect the unit from outside its door which means you can look, but you can't touch.

"I try to find one thing that no one else saw in the locker," Delarso said.

To do that, Bruce comes armed with the tools of the trade, including a flash light, locks to secure his winnings and, of course, plenty of cash.

"You see how they are packed, if they are packed neatly with care it's probably good, if it's thrown in there like a bunch of junk, it is probably junk," Delarso said.

Inside one unit was dozens of flat screen televisions.

Bruce quickly got in on the bidding.

But in the end, Bruce was outbid; the unit sold for $500.

The winner, a first-time auction hunter, scored with a brand new 37-inch LCD TV.

As for Bruce, he and a friend won another locker for $120.

We'll tell you what was inside a little later.

But first, here's how you can get in on the auction scene, too:

Auctioneer Marc Hutchison says you have to be willing to invest the time. Storage auctions can take hours and you're likely to end up with a lot of worthless duds before landing a real score.

"The most expensive unit we ever did was three vintage corvettes from the 60's that went for $50,000," Hutchison said.

We also got some key advice from high profile auctioneers Dan and Laura Dotson, stars of the hit reality show that put storage auctions on the radar.

"You only have 24 hours to clear out these units, so you better be prepared," Laura Dotson said.

Have the helpers and the truck you'll need to clear the unit.

Now, back to Bruce and the unit he won.

Inside his locker, he found a fur coat, many other sellable clothing items, as well as coins, collectible dolls, and china.

"[Plus,] we found several rings and several watches, they look like they're gold," Delarso said.

Overall, a pretty good pay day.

There are lots of auctions going on in our area every week and they're easy to find. Dan and Laura have a website that lists auctions across the country plus free tips to maximize bidding.

So if you're up for this challenge, check out these links:

http://www.storagetreasures.com/

http://severnriverauctions.com/

(Copyright ©2014 WPVI-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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