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Not exactly a 'war,' but storage unit auction draws quite a crowd

Saturday, April 14, 2012

(Photo)
With interest driven by storage unit reality shows, a record crowd showed up to Friday's storage unit auction at All-Stor on the city's south side. Owner Charlie Cooper and auctioneer Jeff Rich reported unexpectedly high numbers of bidders and a nice profit at day's end.
A bright, sunny day certainly helped, but organizers of a Friday storage unit auction on Greencastle's south side gave a nod to reality television as another reason for an impressive turnout.

A crowd of approximately 200 gathered at All-Stor Self-Storage Center to get a peek inside delinquent rental units, just hoping to find a treasure or two.

While a crowd will almost certainly gather for a good sale, auctioneer Jeff Rich said shows like "Storage Wars" and "Auction Hunters" have further piqued interest in this kind of auction.

"The TV shows certainly do not hurt any," Rich said of Friday's turnout. "They generate the interest and the understanding of the process."

All-Stor owner Charlie Cooper spread some credit around for the crowd.

"I think part of it's the storage shows on TV. That, and we have a nice day," Cooper said. "And Jeff promoted it quite a bit."

The promotion must have worked. Customers filled the modest parking space around All-Stor and the adjacent Coldwell Banker office.

Greencastle Police were even dispatched to the scene, advising anyone who had parked on nearby homeowners' properties to find another spot. The prospect of a wrecker bill was enough, and no cars were towed from the scene.

"This is the biggest crowd we've ever had," Cooper said.

Rich said he has been doing these sales at Cooper's business for about five years, and the turnout has gotten better each year. He said not all storage center owners want to do a unit auction, preferring to have the units cleaned out and the articles sold offsite.

"I don't do them as often as I'd like," Rich said.

A storage unit becomes delinquent after three months, Cooper said, and a lien is put against it. He said he prefers to wait six to eight months to sell a unit.

The goal of the auction is to recover the delinquent funds, as well as making a profit for both the auctioneer and the storage center owner.

Nearly 100 people had signed up for bid numbers shortly after Friday's sale began. Rich estimated they handed out three times as many numbers as anticipated and made approximately twice as much of a profit.

The highest-selling units tend to have items the bidders can actually see such as furniture, Rich said. These units remove the unknown element of stacks of boxes.

Not to be outdone by the drama of television, Friday's most exciting sale came in the very last unit. The door slid upward to reveal two 1960s-era motorcycles within -- much more exciting than rolls of carpet or cardboard boxes.

"That was the top-selling unit," Rich said.

The Cloverdale auctioneer expressed his enjoyment of storage unit auctions, saying he'd like to build an entire day of auctions around nothing but this type of sale.

"They're a lot of fun," Rich said. "My plan is to sometime have four different locations and do nothing but storage units the whole day."



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