Shipping containers can be found for sale in lots of locations these days. There are retail outlets around the United States and Canada that provide shipping containers for sale with full services provided (modifications, painting, delivery, etc...), wholesale outlets that assist people who are interested in purchasing used condition shipping containers either in larger volumes, multiple container lots, or without any additional services, and auctions of full, unclaimed containers like those seen on the popular television show "Container Wars".
The easiest and most common way to buy a shipping container is through a local, retail provider. A retail outlet normally will have their own facility, with several shipping containers to choose from. Most all of the containers will be repaired, cleaned up and repainted, and in top condition. Another important service that most local companies are able to provide is complete delivery of the containers, with the ability to set it directly on the ground without the use of a forklift or crane.
Retail outlets are probably the best option for those with little or no experience buying shipping containers. They will be able to meet directly with the sales person and inspect each container, and they can normally pay directly at their office once they select a specific unit.
Experienced buyers, or those who are familiar with shipping containers, can save a few dollars by finding a wholesale distributor that is willing to sell to them. It's important to note that in many cases, wholesalers like shipping lines and leasing companies prefer to deal with larger buyers because the buyer must be qualified and approved with their company, and the this type of buyer is also able to purchase multiple units at one time.
In general, the primary users (shipping lines and leasing companies) selling shipping containers have relatively few staff to manage large geographic areas and high volumes of containers, so they're equipped to provide a lot of hand holding during the sales process.
There are several shipping lines and leasing companies that sell their containers through online platforms like ContainerAuction.com. When dealing with this type of seller, you will be able to find a lower price, but if you decide to inspect the container you may end up doing it alone as the seller is often out of state and the shipping container is stored at one of the shipping line's depots. With regards to delivery, depending on the seller they may have the ability to arrange delivery for you, but you might need to have a way to remove the container from a flatbed (usually with a forklift or crane).
Unclaimed shipping container auctions aren't as common place as the television shows may lead you to believe. Television shows like Container Wars operate out of Los Angeles and it appears that they move unclaimed shipping containers into the port from other areas. Once in Los Angeles, they disclose the origination and destination then open the container and hold an auction for the mystery items inside of the container.
Several things need to happen for a shipping container to go unclaimed, and there are several people in line before it goes to auction. The easiest example: The person that owns the items inside must have either closed operations or filed bankruptcy, if the latter the bank would want to liquidate the contents of the container to collect on the debts owed to them. This scenario is leaving out the shipping line that owns or manages the container, the organization that financed the container itself, and the depot or port that are would be owed storage fees. The shipping line or finance company that owns the container typically hires an asset recovery and remarketing company to look for any lost containers.
Unclaimed shipping containers are rare in any case, and little information is published about them. Unless you have very specific industry knowledge, finding such an auction will be difficult.
It's not hard to find shipping containers for sale in just about any area of the United States and Canada. Over the past 10 years containers have grown in popularity, availability, and acceptance. The easiest place for an inexperienced buyer to find a shipping container is through a retail outlet local to their area. If you have some experience and knowledge of shipping containers, you can probably find a wholesaler or discount website that can sell you a shipping container at a very cheap price. If you're looking for an unclaimed shipping container loaded with treasure, good luck! Plundering booty from the high seas isn't as easy as it appears on television.
If you have any questions about finding shipping containers for sale, and the process of buying them either in person, or on-line, contact ContainerAuction.com with any questions - no matter if you're buying through the website or not, we're happy to help out!