Partially because I’m officially addicted to Storage Wars and partially because I have very little in terms of a life, I decided to go to an auction sale on Saturday. We have storage lockers where I come from, but I’ve never actually seen a storage auction. Rather than waiting 14 years for one, I had to go to an old fashioned one. Those happen a few times a summer around here, so I didn’t have to wait that long to get my auctionin’ in.
The sale on Saturday was an old couple’s entire house. They lived in a little place out in the boonies, so it was a pretty perfect first sale for me. They only expected it to go a couple hours, so my short attention span was happy. It was mostly household stuff, which is stuff I could easily value. It was a perfect sale for a auction sale virgin like me.
My goal was relatively simple. I wanted to buy at least one item to resell online. So I needed something small that was worth a couple of bucks. As I walked through the items I found a few interesting pieces. There were a few musical instruments – banjos, guitars and some weird thing with 3 strings that I forget the name of. There were lots of $75-$100 tools. There was an old sewing machine that I figured I could get $50 for on eBay. There was some potential here, and that’s not even including the big ticket items I had no interest in. (Including a trailer, motor home and truck) Alas, there were no sex toys.
The first item came up for bids, a cordless lawn trimmer. This bad boy had a built in battery, and was actually pretty cool, at least in terms of weed whippers. I figured it would go for $20 or so, it was probably an $80 machine new. I wasn’t interested, since I have a pretty nice trimmer already.
It went for $5.
Greedy Nelson got a little excited in the pants. Nobody wanted this stuff, obviously. I was going to get something to buy and it was going to be exciting. I was going to make a profit, the folks from Storage Wars would hear about it, and they would invite me on the show to make awkward advances on Brandi. She would reject me, but still. My life was about to get a whole lot better.
After a half hour or so, they got around to selling the tools. First up, a cordless drill that probably cost $100 new. It went for $80. Next up was a skill saw, with an approximate retail value of $75. It went for $55. Tools kept getting auctioned off and they kept going for near their new value. Sure, the stuff was pretty new, but I thought the prices were ridiculous.
The sewing machine was next, I figured I’d pick it up anywhere under $20. Who mends clothes anymore?
It turns out somebody does. The sewing machine went for $50.
As the day went on, so did the overspending. The musical instruments went for $300-$500. The motor home, trailer and truck went for $1500-$2500 over what I thought were fair value. People were throwing $20 or $30 at boxes filled with crap. Somebody spent $20 on a box filled with laundry detergent, dryer sheets and deodorant, some of which had actually been used. These people obviously didn’t have the same motivations I did. They were there to buy stuff.
And then, from talking to people, it turned out that the people doing the majority of the buying were the kids and grandkids of the old couple who were moving into the home and selling all their crap. I have no idea what they were doing. If they liked Grandma’s kettle, why didn’t they just hit her up for it before the sale started?
Well, there’s a reason for that, and it became common knowledge at the end of the sale. The final item up for sale was their mobile home. This was not a typical mobile. It was built in 2009, and the old guy completely upgraded the kitchen and bathroom. The trailer cost ~$45,000 new, plus $5,000 worth of renovations. It got all of one bid, for $25k.
Murmurs immediately swept through the crowd. The message was clear, the old folks expected a much larger bounty for their home. This was bad. Depending on the location, assisted living homes in Canada can be quite affordable or they can be expensive. The one in my town costs approximately $1300 per month per person. Now it all made sense. They needed the money. The reason the family was willing to pay up for crap is because Grandpa needed the cash.
I have no idea what their finances are like. Maybe I got everything wrong and the grandkids are just spending their inheritance early. Maybe they just wanted the money as an insurance policy in case they last 15 more years in the home. Maybe they had a $100 a day crack habit. Judging from the reaction at the end of the sale though, the money was needed.
Let my auction sale motivate you. Don’t be a burden on your grandchildren. They don’t want your crap. Leave money for them, not the other way around. It isn’t that hard, provided you start now. You know what to do.