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Storage Auctions vs. Container Wars vs.

18.09.2013 - Posted by Updated On 10.11.2013    

There is a lot of talk these days about all of the different types of auctions that are being made popular by reality television, and given the name of our company we get our fair share of questions from people looking to score big at the auction.

To help clarify some questions and point people in the right direction, here's a quick summary of the different types of popular auctions and where you can find some information about them.

Storage Unit Auctions

Storage unit auctions are held periodically around the country and any on-site storage company.  These auctions occur when people, for whatever reason, don't the monthly rent on their storage unit.  After the payments go into arrears and the storage company makes every effort to remedy the situation, they're left with no option but to auction off the contents of the unit and try to collect the back rent.  In some cases, if the unit is auctioned for an amount higher than the money owed and auction fees it's returned to the original owner (if they can be located).

Storage Wars

These types of auctions have been made popular by shows like "Storage Wars" and you can try your hand at a local auction by finding one on

Loaded or Unclaimed Container Auctions

Unclaimed container auctions are a bit more challenging to find, and they usually fetch a much higher price; after all, you're usually bidding on commercial containers and not household goods.  Loaded container auctions are unique because there are typically more than two parties involved: the company that is owed money on the items or the bank that financed them, the shipping company or leasing company that owns the container, the insurance company that backed the items and purchase, the port or depot where the container is stored, and the original buyer of the goods.   Container Wars

After the payment isn't made, the collection notice or lien is placed, and the container is located, then it finally go up for auction.  Between all of the involved parties there are a lot of beaks in the feeder and everyone wants their fair share.

Shows like Container Wars, run by Auctioneer John Kunkle, have made these types of auctions popular. Unfortunately, there's limited information on when and where these auctions take place, so you may have to ask Jonh himself, or follow his Facebook page.

It's important to note that due to the lower volume and low geographic concentration, not all of these containers go to auction.  In some cases the shipping line hires a "container recovery and remarketing" company track down the shipping containers do what they need to in order to get them back into service.

Empty Shipping Container Auction

The last on the list, and possibly least glamorous of all three, is a simple empty container auction.  When a shipping container either finds its way to a dead end destination, or reaches the end of its life in intermodal shipping, it is sold off to either a commercial or residential buyer.  Most shipping lines and leasing companies aren't geared to handle high volume smaller transactions (one or two containers), so they sell their used containers in bulk and at wholesale pricing.  Local dealers purchase the container in bulk, clean them up, and sell them to retail buyers interested in purchasing a single container.

On both shipping lines and retail container sellers list their containers for sale at all levels of pricing.  Retail locations can often provide a greater amount of customizations and customer service, while purchasing direct from a shipping line means you'll have a lower price, but you may not have the "face to face" transaction that a local company can offer.

Storage and Container Auctions Summary

There are a lot of great opportunities with regards to loaded and unloaded shipping containers, and storage unit auctions; and each market serves a different client base with different needs and goals.  In the end, if you'd like to try and score bid with household goods and compete against other local bidders, look for a local storage unit auction.  If you've got a big budget and want to try risk your bank on winning wholesale opportunities, then loaded container auctions may be for you.  Lastly, if you're interested in buying single or multiple shipping containers, then check out the action on

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