Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Looking for schtuff to do, real business and "reality" TV

So here I am currently disabled sitting around twiddling my thumbs, watching too many movies and reading too many books.

Ever seen the reality TV shows "storage wars" or "auction hunters"? People go out and bid on storage units which have become delinquent. I understand that about 80% of these purchases are pretty much a bust. For some reason a lot of people store garbage. Literally garbage.

If you are going to buy storage units you need access to a commercial dumpster and a truck large enough to haul the garbage and a few nice things away.

So I went out to one of these storage auctions and purchased an 6x8 storage locker for $30.00.

If you do this, put some schtuff together in a shoulder bag or a plastic box to take with you.

2-6 locks depending on how many lockers you want to buy.
a couple of water bottles. (thirsty, dusty work)
a couple of protein bars. (You might want high carb energy bars)
work gloves.
Plastic bags. (I took both clear and black, maybe white bags too next time)
Dust masks. (they never use these on TV, but, these units are dusty)
extra bulb.
A battery powered lantern can also be useful. I discovered some storage lockers do not have lights in them.

The floor of the locker I bought was filled with clothes and trash. There was a steel cabinet standing in one corner. Having purchased a few of these (steel cabinets, not storage lockers) over the years I knew I was looking at a very good quality steel cabinet. The bid went up to $30 and I won. Some of the people looked at me like I was crazy and I said "I bought a steel cabinet". Then the lights went on, most people had just seen the trash and not noticed the steel cabinet which retails these days around $400 and can typically be purchased used for around $50 to $100. People see what they want to see and I discovered really trashy units can be had for cheap. Just be sure there is something worth your bid in it :-)

Just a second, before anyone pats me on the back....

When I paid the $30 bucks plus the 13% commission Plus put a $25 cleaning deposit down on the unit I was down a little over $60 bucks. I got the cleaning deposit back when the unit was cleaned out.

The storage locker was filled with trash and it took 3 hours to clean, sort and bag everything. I took two different kinds of heavy duty trash bags, clear and black. Next time I will take white bags for stuff I want to keep. I put stuff I thought should be donated into clear bags. I put stuff to pitch into black bags. My pick-up is a ranger and it took 2 loads to remove the garbage to a friends dumpster. I wasn't allowed to use the dumpster at the storage unit. If I set a value on my time of $20 bucks an hour and charge $0.50 a mile for the truck, three trips total at 34 miles round trip I have already spent $205.00 dollars on my steel cabinet.

3 hours at the auction, $60.00
3 hours sorting, $60.00
102 miles, $51.00
storage unit, $33.90

Wait a second. There were some other things worth salvaging. There were a couple of pieces of cheap jewelery, a cheap (working) digital camera, a brand new quality sketch pad, an new nylon artists portfolio case, a nice Targus lap-top bag, an old Polaroid 104 instant camera (who knows), a vacuum cleaner, a 30 cup coffee maker, a couple of briefcases and a garment bag in good condition. There were also a few pieces of very nice clothing that I will probably either sell or give away.

All in all I think I broke even on the locker, spending about $204.90 total and getting about $150.00 bucks worth of stuff. Truthfully I could probably get more, BUT, it takes time to find the right buyers to maximize the profitability.

Suppose I spend 5 hours hunting down buys to get my profit up to $200.00, at $20 bucks an hour I just increased my costs another $100.00 so now I have spent another $100 just to lose and extra $50 bucks.

Okay, I am disabled and I am not making anything that five hours anyway and at least it gives me something to do.

Not exactly If I stress myself out doing too much I end up dead so trying to squeeze every last dollar out of a locker is really bad.

I am not going to try too hard to find buyers.

My actual pay per hour is gross - expenses / hours spent.

Lets call my gross $150 (it isn't yet and may not ever be). My actual expenses are about $84.90 so my hourly rate is estimated at $65/6, or about $11 bucks an hour (less because I have to bill more hours to this particular job getting rid of the schtuff).

In other words, if I go by the numbers they use on the stupid "reality TV I "made" $120.00 because I have $150 bucks worth of stuff. Getting closer to reality I actually "made" about $65, or maybe I will when I finish selling the schtuff.

In the end there will be all the expenses associated with finding buyers and arranging the sale so my total profit divided by my hours will mean I probably didn't make minimum wage.

I might end up renting a space at a flea market if I keep doing this. It will give me a place to sell schtuff. I need to see if my daughter is interested in helping, she could run the booth with me and we could split the gross. Maybe, maybe not. In the meantime I am keeping busy and putting reality into "reality TV".

Update: My wife confiscated a Ford Racing jacket i found in the unit. I gave the brand new sketch pad to a friend's daughter. I gave the artist's portfolio to my granddaughter's mother who is in architecture classes. Still no real profit.

Mileage at $0.50 per mile: $51.00
Cost of storage locker: $33.90

12 hours

Sales of Goods:
Blue wool overcoat: $25.00
Polaroid 104 Camera: $5.00
Green wool overcoat: $20.00
5 pair of shoes: $61.00
Total: $111.00
Investment: $84.90
Profit: $26.00
Hourly Wage: $2.16

Give-a-ways of goods to Friends and Family:
Red Ford Racing jacket.
Portfolio case
Sketch pad
Vacuum Cleaner

4 large plastic bags filled with clothes

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