How to Pack and Store Your Stuff

Bidding on a Storage Locker? Five Tips and Clues That May Indicate Hidden Valueables Inside the Locker

In certain situations, self storage facilities auction off storage lockers, and although the auction format varies from location to location, typically, you get just a few minutes to look at the locker's contents to decide if you want to bid.

With such limited time, you have to look for clues that indicate the items in locker have value. While any locker could be full of rubies or rubbish, here are some clues and tips that may be able to help you find a locker full of valuables -- however, remember that when bidding on a locker, you are taking a gamble; there is no foolproof way to ensure it holds valuable items.

1. Look for potentially valuable themes

If you can only see a few items in the storage locker, ask yourself if they indicate a theme. For example, if you see a cooler and a grill, that may indicate a camping theme, and thus, the other items in the locker could all be resellable camping equipment. Similarly, if you see a weight set and a baseball bat, that may indicate a sports theme, and there could be sports memorabilia hidden in the locker's boxes.

2. Consider the organisation of the locker

Messy lockers can certainly hold valuable items, but organisation is often a clue that someone takes care of their stuff. By extension, a well organised locker may have more valuable items (or at least items that are in reasonably good shape) than a messy locker.

3. Look for contemporary items as well as for antiques

Before you start bidding on storage lockers, you should brush up on your knowledge of antiques and collectibles. Ideally, you want a base from which you can quickly analyse the potential value of anything old. However, old stuff is not the only valuable thing you might find in a storage locker.

Also, look for contemporary items. That includes any electronics, clothing or furniture that is in good shape and could easily be used by someone. If you see a few contemporary items in good shape near the front of the locker, there are likely more behind it.

4. Analyse the type of packaging material used

You will likely see boxes in almost every storage locker that is up for auction. Ultimately, you have to create your own sense of which boxes tend to hold the most value, but as you gather experience, consider the material of the boxes.

If you have something valuable to put in storage, you typically want to protect it by putting it in a nice box or container. As a general rule of thumb, boxes made of falling apart, weak cardboard may not be as likely to hold valuables as plastic storage bins, wooden jewelry boxes, metal safes or other types of packaging that are expensive to buy.

5. Don't forget to look at labels and stacking arrangement

Finally, you should also look at the labels on the boxes and how they are stacked together. If certain boxes seem to weigh heavily on each other, that indicates they are full of stuff -- hopefully, it's valuable.

Similarly, stacks of boxes slightly removed from the back wall can indicate a bunch of unused floor space, or it can indicate that something potentially valuable is between the boxes and the walls.

Ultimately, when the locker opens, you want to quickly assess it using the tips outlined above as well as your own personal tactics. Then, you want to bid. However, keep in mind that bidding on a storage locker is always a gamble. There is no way to tell for sure what is hidden in these lockers.