Storage Unit: A Tale of Possession and Hidden Treasure

Storage Unit

When you think about a storage unit – what comes to mind?  The A & E reality TV show “Storage War$”? The always increasing rental fee?  When I think of storage unit, today, the word “Store” as in selling, comes to mind.

Especially for a passionate saleswoman such as me.   When I sell something, close the deal, as they say, I get a rush.  A high as if I just finished eating chocolate.    So when I no longer wanted the expense of renting a storage unit – I decided “everything must go.” And it did…

You don’t miss the water until the well runs dry… 1

We often hear these proverbs bandied about – so much in fact they’ve become cliché. That is UNTIL the meaning becomes personal.   That particular saying became very personal on April 1, 2016 – the day I ended my storage unit contract.

Today, sadly, I regret it.

Prior to that fateful day, I posted my storage items on Craigslist, eBay and, on my store on Squareup.

Aside: If my experience is an indicator –

Craigslist is still king

When it comes to selling, minus the middleman and no overhead cost, Craigslist can’t be beat for the classifieds. The majority of my sales came from Craigslist buyers.  Without the additional cost, I had some wiggle room for buyers who like to haggle on prices.

  • I listed the storage unit’s address, not my home address, in the craigslist ad.  Did I mention the storage unit also has a parking lot?
  • I also listed my Google Voice telephone number in the ad for prospects to use to make an appointment to view and purchase the items.  The calls came directly to my mobile phone but using Google Voice allowed me to contact or follow-up with buyers before and after the transaction.
  • If you haven’t used Google-voice, you are missing out on a great service. Google Voice allows you to screen your calls before it connects you with the caller.  If you choose not to answer, you can listen to the caller leave a message. Other features include the transcript of voice messages and you can record your calls while speaking.

eBay.com came in second for sales

  • Note: If the item is too large to ship; you can opt for a local pickup. Here’s the rub; make sure you get proof of delivery or do a cash transaction. [Cancel the online payment and ask the buyer to pay you when s/he picks up the item.]  eBay will still get their cut. You’ll be in good standing but you don’t want anyone to pick-up your item, then cancel the PayPal payment stating they never received it. Without a tracking number there’s no proof which means you’re not eligible for seller’s protection. My buyer was honest so this didn’t happen – but not everyone is an upstanding buyer.

Squareup.com  came in dead last

  • I’ve yet to sell anything from my square market e-commerce site. The Square marketplace is a good-looking online shopping platform.  You’ll still have to spend a lot of time marketing your personal site and developing a relationship of trust with your buyers.

I know, I know, you might be thinking, “but craigslist is in the title of a movie about transactions gone bad, leading to murder.”  The site has been at the center of some janky activity according to a few news reports. I think, however, people are hopeful creatures and prefer face-to-face buyer-seller transactions.

But I digress.

It took less than a month to sell all but one of my storage items.  I kept my grandmother’s original Redman Quality Basket, picnic basket from C.W. Redmon company.  The company is now in its 120th year.

Redman Quality Baskets
Redman Quality Baskets

They no longer make the baskets they started making in the 1800s. Nor do they use the Indian head logo but there are still some baskets in existence and I have one.

The real treasure, however, was learning the true value of the storage unit.

For $60 a month, $720 per year, I had a place to store my unwanted and unused stuff.  At the time, much like the well is a receptacle for water, I thought that was the extent of its value.

It wasn’t.

My storage unit gave me a reason to leave the cyber world, get out of the house, hone my selling skills (face-to-face) and engage IRL. I especially enjoyed meeting the buyers and chatting about their lives.

  • One woman came to buy a desk but left with a tea cart and a 6-foot Shoji screen. She hadn’t heard that a tea cart was used for entertaining but once I told her some of its uses – she loved the idea.  She paid by credit card and for some reason I couldn’t get my Square reader to work so I used my PayPal Here™ card swipe for the first time.
  • I met a writer whose husband was a doctor on the night shift. She told me she suffered from fibromyalgia and needed to rest frequently during the day.

“The full-size futon with pillows are perfect for my work-study,” she said.  “I can lie down and not disturb my husband who sleeps during the day.”

  • The desk sold too, not to the man who had to wait for his wife to return with the car before he could come pick it up; but to a man who called on the same day I was about to bring the desk home. He was my last transaction.

When I closed the gate for the final time on my storage unit – it was then I realized:

The true value of possessions is not what you have but how you use them.

My unit was outdoors. It isn’t a climate control unit nor is there any type of infrastructure that would sustain prolong living arrangements.

BUT, in addition to the make-shift thrift store I used it for to complete sales transactions, it could be used as:

  • A rumpus room for children (I’m sure I heard a family hanging out at the storage unit one row over from mine. I think they fired up the grill too.)
  • museum/art gallery for an intimate public showing.
  • Man Cave – perfect spot for billiards; pool table or any table game not requiring electricity.
  • fitness center (bring your music, mats, hand weights, ride your StreetStrider that doubles as a stationary bike and teach a small fitness class.)
  • space to host a small workshop
  • organize a storage unit owners meet/greet and arrange for a swap shop or one huge yard sale for charity
  • rehearsal space for budding musicians
  • room to reminisce
  • Your idea for alternative use of a storage unit goes here…

Miss the “water”?  Not so much – but the “well”?  I now have a new saying –

“You don’t miss the well, until the water runs dry!”

  1. https://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20101129002543AA06QuV

1628  J. Carmichaell  Proverbs in Scots no. 1140

“Manie wats [know] no quhairof [where of] the wel sauris [tastes] quhill [until] if fall dre”

“of the well we see no want till either dry, or water skant”

Speake, Jennifer. The Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2008. Web.