Auctions clear storage units for new renters

Published 10:24 am Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Peter Copeland, owner of Storage Solutions in Courtland, takes bids while selling the contents of an abandoned storage unit. -- Gwen Albers | Tidewater News

COURTLAND—Donald Powers paid $1 for a television, stereo, washing machine and a couple of beds.

The Southampton County man got a lot more thrown in on the deal. For his $1 winning bid, Powers got everything from one storage unit sold during an auction at Storage Solutions, 24538 New Market Road, Courtland.

“What I don’t want, I’ll probably donate to Habitat for Humanity,” he said.

Auctions like the ones held on Nov. 6 at Storage Solutions and ABC Self Storage in Franklin are how the owners of storage facilities get rid of contents. In some cases the renters of units have failed to keep up with monthly payments. In other instances, the owners have abandoned their stored items.

“A lot of people abandoned the stuff,” said Peter Copeland, owner of Storage Solutions, which has 200 regular units and 40 with heating and air conditioning that rent from $35 to $110 a month. “They just walked away.”

Copeland said he attempts to work with folks who are in the arrears with their monthly payments.

“We know it’s hard times. We give them a chance,” he said.

During the auction, Copeland opened the door to a unit. He gives people a few minutes to look around and begins the bidding. Winners had until noon the next day to clean out everything.

The contents from the 11 units at Storage Solutions fetched from $1 to $35 per unit. Copeland didn’t do it for the money — it cost him $90 just to advertise the sale. He did it to free up the 25- to 500-square-foot units.

The recent auction was the first for Copeland since opening the storage units three years ago. About 75 percent of the units are rented. He’s thinking about having auctions more frequently.

At ABC Self Storage, owner C.J. Sears advertised auctioning the contents from more than 20 units. By the time the sale rolled around, only four remained.

“We notify all of them. We have to,” Sears said, noting several paid off their bills before the auction.

Sears, who has the auctions about four times a year at his 450-unit storage facility, said the contents sold on Nov. 6 ranged from $10 to $225 per unit.

“At times, we’ve sold cars for several hundred (dollars), but it’s mainly nice furniture, deep freezers, side-by-side freezers and more.”