Storage Wars: Living My Own Reality Show

Has anyone seen the show “Storage Wars” on television? No? Or at least won’t admit to it like you won’t admit to watching “My 600 Pound Life” or “Hoarders”? Yeah, I don’t watch any of those either.

Anyway, Storage Wars is about people who abandon their storage units, leading to the contents being sold at auction. The show involves some entrepreneurs who bid on abandoned storage units for fun and profit, hoping that what is inside (beyond what they can see from the open doorway) justifies what they paid. I now know where their raw material comes from.

Who here has a storage unit? Anyone? Well someone has to, as storage spaces have become one of the hottest new real estate uses to come along in quite awhile. These units give you the chance to clear out your garage and stow it all in a safe, secure facility for just a few extra dollars a month. So that you can refill the garage with more junk to store for free, is how I think it usually works, but I digress.

I can claim some moral superiority here because I have not yet succommed to paying to store junk that should not be at my house. I have felt all warm and smug as I have kept the junk at home to trip over and look at every day, or at least every day I go back to those far, dark corners of my basement. But when there became a need to store old business records, I caved and made a trip to the local U-Hoard. Boxes and boxes of closed files went into a nice, clean, 10×10 room made of corrugated steel. And there they remained. Until quite recently, when I finally had to go to war with my storage unit’s managers.

The problem is that I think I have figured out their business model: Advertise a nice low price to get people in the door. Then, after awhile, if nobody has moved the stuff out, start the rent hikes. Slowly at first, in little increments that someone may not notice – or at least won’t take the time to dig back to see if the auto-pay withdrawal is higher than the one from two or three months ago. Soon, though, you will be paying something close to the cost of a rented room, only without a bathroom or kitchen privileges. Or heat, for that matter. Really, if I went in with a couple of others we could rent a comfy two-bedroom apartment for about the same combined storage rental, and be able to heat up a can of Ravioli when we get tired of box-moving.

I used to wonder about those urban legend stories where someone killed a guy, then kept the body in a deep freeze in a storage unit. I now know that this would never work because at some point the killer would be paying a monthly rental close to the price for a three bedroom ranch in an average subdivision.

When I got online and saw that I could move to another unit in the same building for less than half the monthly cost, I sprang into action and reserved one. Then I called. “Say”, I suggested, “here’s the thing – why don’t we just stop playing games and you charge me what you are advertising?” That, the nice young woman on the other end of the phone call said, would require a request to her “district manager”, who might approve a reduction. But probably not one that big.

So, as far as I can tell, it works like this: I have to ask for a new lower rate. Which they may or may not approve. If they approve it, I will spend my nights wondering how much less I could have gotten approved. If they do not, then I keep asking in $10 increments until the nameless, faceless man approves? I wonder if this is like when you buy a car and the salesman excuses himself to “run it past the manager to see if I can do it.” We all know that the salesman knows full well what he can or cannot do before he gets out of his chair But longstanding custom requires him to go have a seat in the manager’s office, where they chat about last night’s game or how late each of them stayed at the bar the night before before going home and getting bawled out.

Anyway, I decided to go all in on the game and rent the new unit and give notice on the old one. Same building, same size room, but down one floor. A movin’ we will go. It seems kind of pointless, but measures must be taken. Some of the stuff will go to the shredder due to age and maybe in another year or two we can move to a smaller room. At some point in the next few years it will all be gone. Until then, the storage facility has met its match in the guy who has figured out that being a loyal customer is a sucker’s game.

I suppose I could have the last laugh by never getting rid of any of those old boxes of records, then stopping the auto-pay. Then some other poor sap would pay money only to find a bunch of worthless old papers and he would be the one who would have to haul it away. Then the cycle starts over when someone puts $300 of household goods into a unit they will pay $3000 for over the course of two or three years.

You don’t suppose that maybe there is a Reddit group that pools money and buys into self-storage facilities, do you? Maybe I need to look into that.

Image credit: Photo by SarlaWu, offered for free use on Pixabay.com

15 thoughts on “Storage Wars: Living My Own Reality Show

  1. Of course hind-sight is 20/20, but you could have not paid for the unit then attended the auction to watch the buyer’s reaction for paying good money for old paper. There’s entertainment value in that.

    We rented a storage unit once, when we were moving. It was to store a certain van so our garage would not be full. That van utterly filled the unit.

    On the flip side, I did once empty a storage unit, due to the convoluted deal I made when purchasing the property behind us. The owner had a unit and gave me the contents if I cleaned it out, lowering the cash price. There was about 200 square feet of his Sizable Hoard of Ignored Treasures, much of which went to GoodWill, the Salvation Army, and the library book drive. It did give me more than enough on the back end, as I claimed every bit of it as a donation on my taxes, netting me a nice refund that year.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am having enough of a headache cleaning my own unit out, I would not be crazy about taking on the job from someone else’s. As for the car, I recall reading some time back that some guy had an old car in a storage unit. He was trying to start it and it caught fire, burning down much of the storage building before they could get it under control. I guess that would solve my problem. 🙂

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  2. I don’t think I’ve ever watched a whole episode of storage wars, we haven’t had cable in about 22 years so most of that sort of thing I’ve only seen flipping channels in a hotel room. Most TV is crap, much like the contents of most storage units.

    Hopefully when your records expire you can get a shredder truck, those things are amazing. We’ve had a few epic cleanups at work and the truck makes short work of decades of paper.

    We did recently consider getting a storage unit, our son is working his accounting co-op job from home and having 3 offices in our house was not a consideration when we bought the place in 1999. But with some vigorous throwing away, and packing our VW beetle full of boxes we made enough space.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, the shredder trucks are amazing. I will be making use of one soon. And 3 offices in the house would indeed be a stretch for most families.

      Packing a car in a garage is a trick used too seldom. We do a variation – using the minivan in the garage as an overflow refrigerator during the winter.

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  3. I saw the Storage Wars, I think they were in Canada. It was amusing, because I didn’t know there was a business for that. I LAUGHED about your storage unit going up. It reminded me of Comcast. They do the same thing. They give a really good rate for a year and then their rate goes up drastically… like $40-50. Like you, I think they should just give the rate it will be and if there is a small increase, fine, but not a HUGE increase. It gets exhausting keeping up with NOT being taken advantage of, right. Good for you, for moving the unit.

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  4. The negotiation game with storage units sounds like cable (as I see in previous comments). You call customer service, threaten to disconnect, and out of nowhere they can offer you the same package at 50%. I hate that. Also, it seems to me the up-and-coming generations won’t have the same need for storage units since they hardly print anything anymore. Then again maybe they hoard as badly as their parents or grandparents. I’m missing something about the demand but it sure is healthy. Meanwhile new storage units pop up like weeds.

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  5. I don’t watch reality TV, seriously, I don’t think it’s as popular here, but Storage Wars sounds interesting. I wonder if anyone ever finds any valuable artwork tucked away worth millions. I’ve always wondered what those storage units costs. We do have the same negotiation game here re internet companies…..good price for a year, then twice the price unless you complain….then you’re suddenly transferred to the loyalty program where you get close to the old price. It’s surprising how many people just pay the new price no questions asked.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I suppose the two-tier pricing is like coupons. Regular price for those who don’t care or aren’t paying attention and the discount for the price-concious.

      I think pricing for the things is all over the map, depending on the age/quality of the facility and the nature of the neighborhood it’s in. There are also multiple sizes with some being climate controlled. I’m sure a quick internet search for storage units near you would satisfy your curiosity.

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  6. I’ve never seen a reality TV show but then I’ve not had TV for years, but if there is anything I need it is clutter control. I think I remember your post about your diligence in containing clutter early in the pandemic. I intended to get more shelving units in 2020 to put downstairs since I have been buying extra pantry items for Winter for years. But 2020 kept me out of stores, so I did not get that task done. I tell myself after I am retired, I will take some time for myself to bask in my newfound freedom, then hunker downstairs and get to business. I have years of shredding to do … I used to do it routinely then we got a canary and the noise scared him, so I was relegated to the basement to do it … so I put it in a Rubbermaid tote, then another tote, using the Scarlett O’Hara approach to life: “I’ll think about that tomorrow. Tomorrow is another day.”

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    • Yes, isn’t it easy to look past those things that need to be done. I look forward to eventual retirement for the same reasons. But then I remember what my grandma said once after she retired: “When I get up I have nothing to do but by the time I go to bed it’s only half done.”

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      • It’s been many years since I have endless time to myself and I’m sure that I, like your grandma, will do the same thing. My neighbor retired and kept the same waking schedule she always had: 5:00 a.m. I have to admit that I don’t bounce out of bed at 5:00 a.m. like I used to … especially in this weather.

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