$0.00 0

No products in the cart.

Continue Shopping
$0.00 0

No products in the cart.

Continue Shopping

The Basics Of Finding Cheap Collectables In Abandoned Storage Units

Since the start of the century, treasure hunters have been captivated by the trend of exploring storage units.

This phenomenon gained significant popularity through reality TV shows such as Storage Wars, American Pickers, and Auction Hunters. They showcase the excitement of uncovering forgotten treasures within these abandoned storage units.

Trading cards have held a reputation for being valuable collectibles since the 80s, with several cards fetching astonishing prices in the market.

Given the desirability and potential worth of trading cards, it is no surprise that they are among the most common discoveries in storage units. People often build valuable collections of trading cards, only for these once-cherished collections to be forgotten in their storage units.

This article will delve into the fascinating world of finding trading cards in storage units.

It shall discuss the charm of storage unit auctions, share success stories, and provide valuable tips for anyone looking to buy abandoned storage units in hopes of finding rare and valuable trading cards.

Storage units

Self-storage units are popular and convenient options for securely storing personal belongings and properties. From household items, seasonal decorations, business inventory, and cherished collectibles, these units provide a way to declutter your home while keeping possessions safe.

With flexible rental terms and a wide range of sizes, storage units cater to every storage need. Most storage units today have features like climate control and ample security. Hence they’re a popular storage option for many.

As expected, renters must pay a fee to use these storage units. This can be a bulk figure to cover several months or a monthly sum. However, circumstances change, and renters sometimes cannot maintain their storage unit contracts.

This can be due to various reasons such as moving, financial difficulties, simply forgetting about the unit or death. Failure to pay your storage unit fees leads to said units becoming abandoned.

To recover lost revenue and free up space for potential renters, self-storage facilities have policies they follow when a lender doesn’t pay for their storage unit.

This can include putting a lien on the unit’s contents and ultimately auctioning off the unit itself. The specific laws and regulations regarding how long a storage unit must be abandoned before the storage facility can auction it off vary from state to state.

However, the period typically ranges from 30 to 90 days of non-payment or non-contact with the renter.

The appeal of storage unit auctions

Made famous by reality TV shows like Storage Wars, the fascination with these auctions has grown exponentially. Storage unit auctions are a captivating and intriguing phenomenon, attracting treasure hunters and bargain seekers.

These auctions offer an exciting opportunity to bid on abandoned storage units, where the contents are often a mystery until the doors are unlocked.

While not every storage unit purchased will hold a treasure, storage unit auctions have an undeniable and enduring appeal. The allure of these auctions lies in several key aspects.

The element of surprise

One of the primary reasons storage unit auctions are so appealing is the mystery surrounding the unit’s contents. Bidders have limited information about what lies behind those locked doors, adding an element of excitement and surprise to the experience.

The possibility of stumbling upon valuable collectibles, antiques, or rare items after paying a modest fee makes it so appealing.

Treasure hunting thrill

Storage unit auctions offer participants the feeling of embarking on a treasure hunt. The hunt for hidden gems and potentially valuable items can be both exhilarating and rewarding.

Bargain opportunities

For bargain seekers, storage unit auctions present an opportunity to acquire items at significantly discounted prices. Some units may sell for a fraction of their value, allowing successful bidders to make profitable deals on valuable items.

Sense of community

Like with the hobby, regular participants in storage unit auctions often form a close-knit community. They share stories of their best finds, exchange tips and insights, and build camaraderie.

Success stories of people finding valuable collectibles and sports cards in storage units

The tales of people striking gold with storage units are unending, from valuable trading cards to vintage comic book collections to priceless sports memorabilia. These forgotten units often yield treasures that carry significant financial value.

$50k card find

There are thousands of tales of individuals finding valuable cards in purchased storage units. The pick of the lot is from the YouTuber Mike of Storage Auction Pirates.

YouTube video

A $900 storage unit purchase contained a trove of trading cards. The jewel of the lot is the 2003 SP Game Used “Rookie Exclusives” Auto. #RE1 LeBron James Signed Rookie Card #/100. A PSA 10 sold for $46,800, with PSA 9s going for over $20,000.

Mike’s discovery of over $500k from a $900 storage unit exemplifies the remarkable potential of this venture. While this is unique in its value, stories or discovering valuable cards in storage units are common.

Goldin Auctions

Sports Illustrated magazines worth $100,000

Another success story of a valuable collectible found in a storage unit is the case of a Dallas resident. He purchased the storage unit for just $300, hoping to get his hands on some used auto parts.

However, the locker included a complete collection of the Sports Illustrated magazine in excellent condition. He sold the magazines for $100,000, a good return on a $300 investment.

$1 million Disney memorabilia

In 2011, a lucky bidder purchased a storage unit for an undisclosed sum and found 40,000 pieces of Hollywood memorabilia. These included film cells, original Tim Burton artwork, and autographed work. The items were valued at around $1 million and sold through various auction houses.

$2.16 million Action Comics #1

The winner of a storage auction found that it contained a near-mint condition copy of Action Comics #1.

The comic book, which has a rich history, was stolen from Hollywood star Nicolas Cage’s home in 2000. It went on to sell for a whopping $2.16 million at auction.

While some might attribute these remarkable discoveries to sheer luck, many seasoned collectors and treasure hunters know there’s an art to identifying the potential value of items within storage units.

They know how to discern between storage units with sentimental value and those that could fetch a handsome sum in the collector’s market. We’ll discuss a few tips to get started right away.

Getting started with abandoned storage units

Indeed, few can deny the appeal surrounding the storage unit auctions world. From the potential to discover hidden gems to the thrill of competitive bidding, it offers a truly captivating experience. Here’s a quick guide to starting if you want to explore storage unit auctions. Let’s cover the basics of getting started with bidding for storage units.

  • Research and preparation
  • Online or live auctions
  • Assessing storage unit potential

Research and preparation

Research and preparation are the cornerstones of achieving success regarding storage unit auctions. Before placing your first bid, investing ample time in thorough research is crucial. A good start is to familiarize yourself with local auction houses and their schedules.

Online platforms and community bulletin boards often provide information about upcoming auctions. It also pays to understand the legalities and regulations governing storage unit auctions in your area.

Understanding the rights of both storage facilities and bidders is essential to ensure smooth and ethical participation.

As you gather information, start honing your instincts for unit valuation. Learning to assess a unit’s potential value by peering through a half-open door or recognizing signs of valuable content is a skill that comes with experience.

It’s also a good idea to set a budget for bidding and adhere to it rigorously to avoid overextending yourself financially, at least for the first few months.

As with most things in life, research and preparation are the foundation for successful storage unit bidding careers. You’ll be better equipped to succeed when you know local auctions, legalities, and valuation skills.

Online or live storage unit auctions

There are two avenues for eager bidders to participate in storage unit auctions: online and live. Both options offer their own set of advantages and considerations, catering to different preferences and circumstances.

Online storage unit auctions

Online auctions are virtual auctions that enable individuals to bid on abandoned storage units remotely. Using detailed photographs, item descriptions,

and often video tours, bidders can assess the unit’s contents before placing bids. The ultimate appeal of these auctions is their convenience and flexibility. Bidders can engage without being physically present at the auction site.

Pros of online storage unit auctions

Convenience: Online storage unit auctions offer unparalleled comfort. Bidders can participate anywhere in the world without being physically present at the auction site. This flexibility benefits individuals with busy schedules or those far from the auction house.

Extended evaluation time: Bidders have more time to evaluate unit contents. Online auctions typically provide detailed photographs, descriptions, and sometimes even video tours of the units. This extended preview period allows for comprehensive research and informed decision-making.

Anonymity: Online auctions offer a level of anonymity that helps reduce the pressure of competitive bidding. Bidders can engage without the social dynamics of a live auction, making it a comfortable environment for newcomers and introverted participants.

Access to more auctions: Online platforms connect bidders to auctions from various locations, expanding the pool of available units. This increases the chance of finding units that align with specific preferences or interests.

Reduced travel costs: Bidders save on travel expenses associated with attending live auctions. This cost-saving aspect can make online auctions a more economical choice, especially for those who would otherwise have to travel significant distances.

Cons of online storage unit auctions

Limited physical assessment: The absence of a physical visit to the unit is a significant drawback. While photographs and descriptions help, they might not capture the full scope of a unit’s contents. Bidders could miss valuable items or underestimate the potential value.

Competitive bidding: Online auctions can still be highly competitive. Bidders might find themselves in bidding wars without the immediate feedback and cues from other participants that live auctions provide.

Potential technical issues: Online auctions rely on stable internet connections and user-friendly platforms. Technical glitches or connectivity problems could hinder the bidding experience.

Lack of real-time engagement: The absence of real-time engagement with auctioneers and other bidders can diminish a live auction’s dynamic and exciting atmosphere.

Limited hands-on experience: Online auctions lack the tactile experience of inspecting items physically. The inability to touch, assess quality, or see items from different angles could lead to misjudgments or regrets after winning a bid.

In conclusion, the choice between online and live storage unit auctions boils down to you.

The best option for you depends on your preferences, resources, and the level of engagement you seek. Online auctions offer convenience and anonymity, while live auctions provide increased excitement and the chance for an in-person assessment.

Whatever option you choose, you’ll still experience the full excitement of bidding for a storage unit.

Assessing storage unit potential

Assessing the potential of a storage unit is an essential skill for those delving into the realm of storage unit auctions. The contents of these units remain veiled until after a unit is purchased. However, bidders are allowed to glance at the content before bidding.

Experienced bidders know there are ways to gauge a unit’s potential worth before committing to a bid. The ability to assess storage unit potential can significantly influence the success of your auction endeavors, leading to the discovery of valuable items and hidden treasures.

Below are the three common tips for assessing the potential worth of a storage unit before placing a bid;

Appearance speaks volumes

As the unit is unveiled, take note of the overall appearance. A well-organized unit, with neatly stacked boxes and organized items, often indicates that the previous owner cared about their belongings and might have valuable items stored within.

Conversely, a messy or hastily packed unit might suggest a rushed move-out with potentially less valuable contents.

Avoid units that show obvious signs of being used for trash disposal. Units filled with broken or clearly worthless items might not yield valuable treasures.

Visible clues/labels

Look for brand names on items, as recognizable brands can often correlate with value. Pay attention to box labels, especially those marked “fragile” or “valuable.”

These could indicate items intentionally stored due to their worth. Similarly, look for items related to specific hobbies or collections. Labeled boxes suggesting collectibles, sports memorabilia, or vintage comics might indicate valuable finds.

Trust your instinct

A common answer winners give when quizzed on why they bid for a particularly valuable storage unit is, “I went with my instinct.”

Indeed, trusting your instincts is essential to achieving success bidding on storage units. While research and analysis provide a solid foundation, there are times when a gut feeling can lead to valuable discoveries. Intuition often picks up on subtle cues that might not be immediately evident, guiding you toward units with hidden potential.

Experienced bidders recognize the power of their instincts in assessing a unit’s worth beyond what meets the eye.

It’s important to remember that assessing potential requires practice and experience. As you gain familiarity with the process, your ability to quickly evaluate a storage unit’s potential will become more refined.

Combining visual observation, recognition of valuable clues, and intuition allows you to develop a keen sense of which units are worth your bidding efforts.


There are a million tales of bidders finding treasures in abandoned storage units. However, actually striking gold in these abandoned storage units isn’t always the case.

You are more likely to find a pile of junk than a treasure. Hence, while these stories inspire dreams of discovering abandoned riches, it’s crucial to approach storage unit auctions with caution.

It’s important to remember that while you can find treasures, that isn’t always the case for most people. Proper research, careful assessment, and understanding of the risks are essential to ensure a rewarding and safe experience.

If you fancy buying sports cards at Target, this complete guide covers everything you need to get started.

John Bassey

John Bassey

John is a freelance writer and founder of WordCraft Consult, a consultancy that provides expert writing services and enhances youth engagement in reading. With six years of writing experience and over 300 clients, He has made significant contributions as a content writer for several brands, such as Tech Triangle, KBO Bikes, Dolls Magazine, and, more recently, Cardlines.

John has a Bachelor's degree in Statistics and an enduring passion for creating content.  He is  currently dedicated to nurturing WordCraft while advancing appreciation for collectibles and literature through highly informative articles. 

Related »

More in Basics »

© Copyright 2024 - All rights reserved Cardlines.com / Media Techs LLC - Sports Card News, Reviews, Releases and BREAKS - #thehobby.

Important: When you click on links to various merchants on this site and make a purchase, this can result in this site earning a commission. Affiliate programs and affiliations include, but are not limited to, the eBay Partner Network.