The recent Dallas Morning News article by Barry Horn about the out-of-work-butcher-turned-storage unit entrepreneur should make every collector and storage unit searcher stand up and shout. In a nutshell, Alan Hairston spent $330 on a storage unit that was filled with boxes which may turn into the most significant collection of tremendously preserved Sports Illustrated magazines in history. Early indications reveal that the collection includes every issue from 1954 to 2015, as well as reel-to-reel interviews and prototypes of the early editions and could be worth more than $100,000.Photo from Dallas Morning News

There was luck involved, for sure, but Hairston also used some tried and true methods to picking a good storage unit. What first caught his eye were the dozens of similar white boxes. This is key because having all the same boxes means more effort went into packing them. The boxes had years scribbled on them, and this also was important because the fact they were labeled again shows they were important. The fact that the boxes were organized and stacked neatly shows that the person cared about what was in them. He also saw several boxes that were labeled Hyundai and he immediately thought “auto parts.” Analysists report that the used auto parts business is on the upswing and generates about $5 billion in revenue annually. Finally, Hairston read the crowd of fellow buyers and quickly realized there was only one competitor against whom he had to bid. He was willing to outbid anyone, but he did not tip his hand. “Whenever I want a unit,” Alan said in the article, “I don’t stop until I get it.”

There have been 10 seasons of Storage Wars on A&E the reality TV show that started in 2010. The show follows professional buyers who purchase the contents of storage units based only on a five-minute inspection of what they can see from the door when it is opened. The goal is to turn a profit on the merchandise. The show has created a buzz that a lot of people are getting involved in and Hairston’s most recent find will only add fuel to the fire.

So remember a handful of quick tips for success:

  • Similar boxes
  • Labeled boxes
  • Organized stacks
  • A clue about the possibility of auto parts (label, logos or visual inspection)
  • Read the crowd and keep your emotions in check
Written By: Elon Werner


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