Surprises can be one of the best things about life. Everyone is thrilled with the prospect of a surprise, even if sometimes the surprises aren’t ultimately what we hoped for. Still, there is a definite allure to the unknown that never ceases to pull us in. Sometimes, what we get may even surpass our wildest expectations. Such was the case for one man who paid for the contents of a storage unit for just $500, but got something that was worth much more than he expected when he finally opened it up for the first time.

Storage Shopping

To most of us, storage units are just a convenient place to hold all of the junk we have that either we don’t know what to do with, don’t have room for in our homes, or can’t bear to get rid of even though we don’t really need it.

For some people, however, storage units symbolize something much different: opportunity. For these folks, a storage unit represents a chance to make some money. They actually go to storage facilities to buy the contents inside in an auction.


What To Expect?

Of course, when you attend one of these auctions and bid on the storage unit’s contents, you don’t really know what to expect. Even the owner of the facility won’t know what’s inside, after all. But you’re always hoping for the best.


When one man won the contents of a storage container in an auction, he really wasn’t sure what to expect. As always, he was hoping to find an old antique that might be worth some money or even some salvageable electronics. As such, he bid, not knowing the adventure it would set him on.

Not A Sure Thing

Storage auctions can be exhilarating because of the possibilities inside, but they can also be quite a gamble. After all, you may end up paying hundreds of dollars for someone’s worthless junk, a flea-ridden couch, and some worthless old baseball cards.


Still, people on occasion will buy storage units only to find that the contents are actually worth thousands. The man in question was finally feeling comfortable bidding on storage units, though he had to admit that he was still a little uneasy about the investment.

A Difficult Task

Not only was there the monetary investment, but there was a lot of work involved with buying a storage unit, too. After all, a lot of people didn’t keep their storage units very organized, particularly if they were ultimately going to abandon them, anyway.

It takes a lot of effort and time to go through someone’s old stuff. Then, you had to find proper buyers for each items or occasionally have them appraised professionally. The man thought that if nothing great was in this unit, he’d probably get out of the game entirely.


Everyday Joe

The man, whose name was Joe, was there with a number of other people that day as he waited to see what might await him in one of these units. About 20 other people were with him that day, wondering what to bid on this and other units.

The units could hold the entire contents of a one bedroom apartment. In many of them, spare furniture, antiques, or even motorcycles and other items had been inside. Some people had even found classic cars in some of them. It was hard to tell what might be within.

The Bidding Begins

You can’t really get a great look within the storage unit during the bidding process, but you can take a quick glance. From there, the bidding process begins and it’s pretty fast and furious, although not nearly as dramatic as what you see on reality TV.

There was no pushing, screaming, or arguing, but Joe did get into a bit of a bidding war with another person. He admitted that when he won the unit for $500, he felt good about it, even if he had worried about sticking to his budget. He didn’t want to spend more than he could afford.

Outlasted His Opponent

Joe had wanted to keep his bid low, of course, but when you get into a bidding war with another person and you really want to win, it’s hard to do so. The bid started at just $100, but whenever Joe would bid, this woman would continue bidding higher.

Joe couldn’t see into the unit that well, but it was definitely filled to the brim with furniture and other items, so there could be valuables inside. The bidding continued and it seemed like Joe might eventually have to bow out, but he tried to keep his cool.’


False Alarm

Your emotions can get the better of you during an auction, which is one reason why so many sellers like the format. It gets people’s competitive natures going and drives prices up higher than they might otherwise be if there was no competition for items.

Still, Joe thought he had won the unit for sure when he bid $350. Unfortunately, he was wrong and he saw his budget go up in flames as the high bid reached $400 and started climbing higher and higher after that. Finally, it reached $500 and Joe was the winner.

Conflicting Emotions

When you win an auction after an intense bidding war, your first emotion is always that of triumph. You’re excited that you’ve won what you were after. However, that emotion is quickly accompanied by another one in a lot of occasions: nervousness.

You wonder instantly if you had overpaid for the item. In this case, Joe was wondering whether what was inside was worth the $500 bid. What if it was truly a bunch of worthless junk? What if Joe had just thrown $500 down the toilet?

The Big Winner

That was the last unit that was being auctioned that day, so most of the participants moved on after Joe won the bidding for the storage unit. However, something funny happened on this occasion: a few of the people actually decided to hang around.


Apparently, Joe wasn’t the only one who thought that something good might be awaiting him inside. Others had somehow had their curiosity piqued by the storage unit, too. Before long, they would ultimately be wishing that they had bid higher than they did.

Off To A Bad Start

Joe was eager to see what would be waiting for him in the storage unit that he had just purchased for $500, so he immediately started to get to work. As he did, he tried to clear a path past some of the old furniture that was jammed to the front of the unit.

It wasn’t a bad thing to find furniture in a unit, since it’s easy to sell, but Joe knew immediately that the furniture inside wouldn’t fetch nearly enough of a price to offset his investment. He began to feel tense, thinking he may have struck out, after all.

Such A Mystery

Perhaps one reason that people like to speculate on storage units is the mystery aspect. Although it’s unlikely that you’ll find anything too crazy, there have been reports of people finding everything from murder weapons to human remains inside of them!

Joe was certainly hoping not to find anything that macabre inside, but he was also hoping that there would be something valuable enough inside that he could set his mind at ease after stressing out about it ever since he won the auction against the other person.

There It Is

As Joe started to clear some items out of the storage unit, there were certain things that caught his eye. One thing that definitely got his attention was what appeared to be a grey container located on the floor next to a dresser. Joe looked at it suspiciously.

For some reason, Joe thought that container had promise. Unfortunately, he didn’t have the key and he had his doubts that it would be found anywhere on the premises, either. He decided to have some friends help him open the container, which was more like a small safe.

Drilling Down

Ultimately, Joe was only able to get the container open once he entrusted the help of a friend who had a power drill. That’s when he realized it was no mere container, but actually a safe! When Joe took the lid off, he had quite a surprise awaiting him.

The lid came off and Joe looked inside and right away saw bills of various denominations. He honestly could not believe it. After taking a second to let the shock subside, Joe dug in and found bundles and bundles of money inside!

Two Hours Later

Let’s fast forward to a couple of hours after Joe bought the storage facility and found a fat stack of cash in a tiny safe within. At this point, Joe was at home, and he was definitely surprised when two uniformed police showed up at his door. But what did they want?

When he answered the front door, Joe quickly forgot that he had been so lucky. Apparently, the police had caught wind of his lucky fortune earlier and decided to stop by and visit him as a result. They had questions, too, about why so much money had been inside.

Not Making Sense

Joe was very honest with the police officers, especially considering that he had nothing to hide. Still, there were many questions that remained for both the police and Joe as they learned more about the strange saga so far.

For one thing, what had happened to the owners of the storage unit? They had to remember that they had all kinds of money stored away in such a unit. Why would they abandon it? Was it a part of another plan somehow? Did they not want to claim the money because of their ill-gotten gains?

Counting Cash

One problem with being so excited after winning a storage unit is that you’re likely to brag to others who often won’t have the ability to be discreet about the whole thing. In Joe’s case, he had sent excited photos to his girlfriend, but he also posted them on social media.

Therefore, it was not really that surprising that the police caught wind of the huge stash and decided to swoop in and ask Joe some rather important questions. What’s more, Joe had already counted $1 million in cash and counting.

A Staggering Total

In all, there would be a total of $7.5 million found within the safe and other safes throughout the storage unit. It was absolutely amazing and definitely outperformed any expectations Joe would have had for what was a paltry $500 investment.

There were pink slips to vehicles, tons of coins and of course, huge bills, as well. However, Joe was in for a fight. It turned out that the storage unit’s original owner had caught wind of the auction and hired lawyers to try to help him get his money back.

A Nice Offer

The police arrived and everything started to move very quickly. Joe still wasn’t completely sure about what he might try to do, but he was in conversation with the other party’s lawyers. They advised him to return the money, but said he would benefit.


The lawyers said that if he did return the bulk of the $7.5 million, they would give him $600,000 of it as a sort of “finder’s fee.” For many people this would be an offer that they couldn’t refuse. Joe wasn’t so sure, however.

Standing His Ground

Joe talked to his friends and of course, also took the time to consult with his lawyer. Once he did that, it was pretty clear what he was going to decide to do. He was not going to take the small payoff as a “finder’s fee.” He was going to aim higher.

After all, Joe had learned that where he lived, in California, a storage unit that has been auctioned off no longer belonged to its original owner, so Joe should have full rights to everything inside. However, the other party wasn’t just going to give up on $7.5 million.

Final Offer

Now, things were moving to the next level. The lawyers contacted Joe again, this time with a new and improved offer. They were offering Joe a “finder’s fee” of $1.2 million. It wasn’t a bad offer, especially since if the court somehow ruled against Joe, he’d leave with nothing.

Also, Joe wasn’t sure what kind of person would forget about $7.5 million in a storage unit, but they probably weren’t nice people. What if taking this money meant being in grave danger? Joe had a lot of things to consider as he thought over all of it.

Two Sides

On one hand, $1.2 million would be quite a return on a $500 initial investment. In addition, it would mean that Joe could be done with the whole thing instead of getting involved in a court battle. Maybe it would even be preferable to dealing with people who could be shady customers.


On the other hand, Joe wasn’t really happy with the idea that he was being pushed around. Furthermore, $7.5 million is a lot more than just $1 million. Although he didn’t technically earn the money, it did technically belong to him, nonetheless.

A Counter-Offer

Before long, Joe thought that he had the best possible solution in mind. He decided to contact the other party’s lawyers and make them a final offer of his own. He would split the money 50/50 and give half of it to the other person while keeping half for himself.

Joe thought that would be fair, especially since it was the other person’s fault that they hadn’t paid up on their storage unit in months. They had ignored letters from the facility’s owners and obviously weren’t too worried about the contents then.

The Owner’s Perspective

From the perspective of the facility owner, such auctions have their own purpose. They help them get rid of items from tenants who aren’t paying and move more responsible tenants in in their place. “I really don’t make much money out of auctions – it’s to try to cover our expense,” said a storage owner.

Instead, the owner said, most of it is just to cover losses. “An unpaid unit does not make any money. The sooner the delinquent tenant can be moved out, the sooner a paying tenant can move in,” he continued to say.

You Never Know

Joe’s story is certainly not typical. 99.999% of the time, you are not going to find wads of cash within a storage unit…particularly one that has been abandoned. However, the idea that it could happen is what keeps people bidding on the units time and time again.

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