(07/12/12) - It's Mid-Michigan's own version of the hit TV reality show 'Storage Wars.'
One week out of every month, Storage Pro's auctions off foreclosed storage units at its dozens of locations across the state.
This particular auction on Dort Highway in Flint brought out 100 or so people, with a dozen units up for grabs. The premise is simple - bid for other people's abandoned stuff.
Kirt and Tom O'Mara came from Dryden with cash in hand.
"It's the excitement, like opening the boxes at Christmas and finding that thing that someone forgot they had," Tom O'Mara said.
Wayne Blair has been in the storage unit auction business since 1990.
"Oh, this is great. I've retired twice, and if I wasn't selling them, I'd be buying them," he said.
The auctioneer has pretty much seen it all.
"A '79 Corvette sold for $250. Everybody just stood there and looked at it and couldn't believe it. Nobody else bid, so it sold for 250 bucks. The guy called somebody and had an offer for $2,000 before he left," Blair said.
Over the last couple of years, the popularity of shows like Storage Wars has helped turn the real life version into a booming business - and oh yeah, the crowds have grown.
"The TV show has brought the excitement level up much more and upped the game. It's much more exciting now," said Storage Pros spokesperson.
Michigan state law says that a unit can't be auctioned off until payments are more than 46 days late. Storage Pros waits nearly twice as long, and makes every effort to avoid foreclosure.
"A first late letter, a second late letter, then we send a final notice of sale. Plus in there, there are multiple phone calls trying to work things out," the spokesperson said.
All items are documented beforehand. Here are the rules: Doors open, people file by for a quick look from the outside. No touching, and cash only.
One person's trash could be another's treasure. On the day ABC12 was there, furniture was at a premium.
"Who will give me a dollar bill. Sold for a dollar bill," Blair said.
You read that right, an entire unit sold for just $1.
"It's definitely worth a dollar. There's a couch and love seat in there. I'll sell it at a yard sale and even if I make 10 bucks, I'm selling it for more money," the winning bidder said.
Buried in the auction was potentially the steal of the day.
"Look right there. There's a Samsung. That's a flat panel box," Blair said.
That definitely caught the eye of the O'Mara's, who were willing to take a gamble.
Now comes the fun part. The O'Mara's paid $220. Yes, there was a flat screen TV - and a big bonus item as well, hidden within a bunch of junk, a Toshiba laptop computer.
"Looks like it's in good shape, but oh, it's cracked. Right there," Kirt said.
If you'd like to get in on the fun, and see a list of all of Storage Pro's upcoming auctions, click HERE.
ABC12 Main Station