Monthly Archives: May 2016


How Storage Auctions Work

Storage units are a wonderful place to store the things that clutter up your home, extra things for which you have no immediate need, seasonal wardrobes and seasonal sports equipment like baseball bats or skis. For a reasonable monthly fee, you can rent a storage unit near Pearson Airport will keep your things safe and protected. However, should payments on the unit become delinquent, the rental contract says that the storage facility can auction off the items in those units.

Prior to a Storage Unit Auction

Most companies will make several attempts to collect their rental fees before moving forward with a storage unit auction. These contacts will be by phone, text, email, and registered mail. There are many things that could cause a storage unit renter to become delinquent, even something as simple as forgetting to pay the monthly rent. Pearson Airport and other Vancouver storage facilities strive to make every effort to locate a renter before placing a lien against his or her things.

Generally after 30 days, most storage companies can get a lien and schedule an auction. Once the property is auctioned off, the contents of the entire storage unit belong to the highest bidder at the auction, with the delinquent renter of the unit having no further legal rights to the property.

Before the auction begins, the bidders are generally allowed to look into the storage unit from the entrance of the unit. Prospective bidders are advised of the rules of the auction, and after each prospective bidder has had a glimpse of the unit’s contents, the auction begins. Bidders can only bid on the entire contents of a storage unit.

The Auction and After the Auction

Once bidding in the auction is completed for a storage unit, the bid winner has little time to pay. Either payments required right after the bidding closes, or by a certain time the next day. Payments are most often requested to be in cash; although, some companies will accept checks from bidders they know. Some states require that the storage facility charge sales tax on the total of the bid. As soon as payment is made, the winning bidder has a short amount of time to clear the contents out of the unit.

Dispelling Storage Auction Myths

Due to the popular show about storage auctions on the A&E channel, many myths have arisen about storage auctions:

  1. Every unit contains valuable stuff. The reality is that some units do contain things that bring far more money than what the high bidder pays for the items in the unit. But there are many more units that are simply filled with junk that the high bidder is stuck trying to unload. Many times savvy storage auction bidders can tell by looking which they will find.
  2. Managers at the storage facility take the best stuff out of the unit. There are very few managers who do this, and they certainly do not work for Pearson Airport or any of our other Vancouver facilities.
  3. Bidders must be present in order to bid. With today’s technology, many storage facility auctions are held online. This gives prospective bidders a chance to look into a unit via the photographs provided, and search the web for the value of items they see.
  4. Everything in the unit belongs to the highest bidder. Technically everything does belong to the highest bidder, but most storage facilities ask that memorabilia be left with the manager in case the delinquent tenant wants it back.

At Pearson Airport, we have great renters and few auctions. We have outstanding customer service and fair rental pricing and agreements.

Iron Gate Storage
2225 E. 5th St.
Vancouver, WA 98661
(360) 899-0030

History of Storage Units

Beginning in China many years ago, people stored items in clay pots. Communities dug storage areas underground to house the pots. The storage facility was guarded, and care was taken to ensure that no one but the owner of each clay pot had access to it. This is much like what happens at Downtown/Westside and the other Vancouver storage sites.

Legend has it that during the Neolithic period over 4,000 years ago, a wealthy individual named Xiang Lau in Xi’an, China had an impressive collection of enemy bones, clay pots and semi-precious stones. His collection began to overflow his cave and before long his mate asked him to move it out of their home (does this sound familiar?).

Being the enterprising merchant that he was, Xiang Lau began creating large clay pots in which to store his bones and stones. He then dug underground pits into which he lowered the clay pots, and hired guards that he paid in food and water to ensure the safety of his collection.

Word got around about Xiang Lau’s creative storage idea, and he soon was renting out both clay pots and storage space for other collectors to store their bones and stones. A business was born, despite how creative it was, apparently the whole idea did not catch on in other places. Many people did not want to be separated from the bones of their enemies as they conferred status that was difficult to share with others without being able to play show and tell with the bones when family and friends came calling.

It was many years later when the storage facility concept showed up in Great Britain. In the 1850’s, banks would store valuables for their clients who were traveling within the country, to other countries, or overseas. Bank vaults soon became overloaded with valuables as the elite jaunted around the countryside, so they created warehouses to hold their customers’ furniture and other things.

Martin and John Bekins, who founded Bekins Van Lines in 1891, built the first containerized storage warehouse where people could store their belongings in Los Angeles in 1906. The warehouse was made of concrete and steel, and was used to store records for companies as well as personal storage for their customers.

The first facility that came close to the Downtown/Westside or Vancouver storage businesses of today was opened by the Collum family in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The first facility to use the now-familiar garage door concept arose in Texas in 1964, built by Bob Munn and his stepfather, Russ Williams, in Odessa. It had the catchy name of “A-1 U-Store-It U-Lock-It U-Carry-the-Key.”

When you store your things with Downtown/Westside storage facility or one of our other Vancouver sites, you can definitely store it, lock it, and carry the key.

Iron Gate Storage
1200 West Fourth Plain
Vancouver, WA 98660
(360) 419-4200

How to Get Your RV Ready for Storage

RVing offers a freedom that is unparalleled to travel the countryside away from home, yet to also have all the comforts of home. But when winter arrives, most of us are ready to store our RVs at Cascade Park and snuggle down into our warm homes for the cold weather. While getting an RV ready for storage takes a bit of time, it is well worth the time spent when you get ready to roam the roads again in the spring and your RV is still in tip top condition.

Winterizing Your RV

You can take your RV to the local RV maintenance facility and pay them to winterize your RV, or you can do it yourself following these tips:

  1. Drain your plumbing system of all moisture

The objective here is to remove all water from your pipes, faucets, pumps and valves to prevent them from freezing, expanding, and splitting apart. Repairs on plumbing system are expensive because most of the plumbing is buried within the cabinets and walls of your RV.

First, empty and flush both your grey water and your black water tanks. Next, using a hand pump, pump RV antifreeze throughout your plumbing system. Ensure that it does not go into the fresh water tank or the filtration system. You will need 2-3 gallons of RV antifreeze (pink in color).

  1. Take care of your engine

Fill the fuel tanks to keep condensation from forming, and add a fuel stabilizer to the gas tank. Let the engine run a few moments to get the additive all the way throughout the system. Ensure that there is antifreeze in the radiator and check that the brake, oil, and windshield washer fluids are filled up.

  1. Fill all propane tanks
  1. Remove all food and beverages from the RV
  1. Remove all clothing, bedding and linens
  1. Ensure that all roof vents are closed, and cover the air conditioners with special covers available at an RV store. Examine the roof and repair any damage.

Parking Your RV for the Winter

Once your RV is in its storage slot at Cascade Park or another Vancouver storage space, there are things you still need to do to get it ready for winter storage:

  1. If possible, use a breathable cover to store your RV.
  2. Inflate tires to the recommended cold pressure level, put a board between the tires and the ground, and cover the tires to prevent UV ray damage like dry rot. To keep the tires from developing flat spots from the thousands of pounds resting on them, it helps to move the RV one-half of a tire revolution a couple of times during the winter. Alternatively, you can use either external of internal leveling jacks to raise the tires off the ground.
  3. Chock both front and rear wheels.
  4. Remove the battery or batteries and put them in storage where they cannot freeze, being sure to disconnect the negative pole first.
  5. Close all window blinds to keep UV rays from fading carpets, furniture and draperies.
  6. Ensure that all propane-fueled appliances are turned off. Leave the refrigerator open after clearing and cleaning it.

Storing your RV at Cascade Park or another Vancouver storage facility gets it out of your driveway and keeps it safe over the winter.

Iron Gate Storage
802 NE 112th Ave.
Vancouver, WA 98684
(360) 799-5090

How to Get Rid of Extra Things

Many of us reach a point in our lives when we simply have too many things. While we can store the items we do not want to get rid of at Mill Plain or one of the other Vancouver locations, there are still things that we have no use for any more. So the question becomes, “Why hold onto something that could benefit someone else?”

Venues for Selling

There are many choices when it comes to selling your unwanted things for cash. Some are easy to use; others are more complicated. Some have large numbers of followers eager for a good buy, while others have a smaller following. Here are what internet users feel are the best online selling options that only take a modest cut of your sales profits:


List for free to sell all of your unwanted things to local purchasers. This is a great place to sell large items like exercise machines, cars, strollers, furniture, equipment and tools.


You will pay a listing fee on Amazon, but it has a huge following of people who want to buy new items, but who get excited to find used items listed right beside the new ones. Listing items is very easy at Amazon, and they even have a fulfillment program that lets you send all of your unwanted items to Amazon. They list, sell and ship the items for you. You get much less than if you handle the sale, but there are several benefits. The first benefit is that you no longer have to store your items until they sell, which frees up space in your home in Mill Plain. Nor do you have to bother with checking the listing every day or shipping the items once they sell.


eBay is one of the oldest and best known marketplaces for getting rid of stuff. Listing is easy, and they offer specials for free listings often. Competition on eBay can be fierce, so it is best to learn the strategies of selling on eBay. Some folks even make a great living buying things at yard sales and reselling them on eBay.


This is an alternative to eBay where the selling fees are less than on eBay (only 3%). It is an auction site much like eBay, where you can list and sell your used or new items.


This marketplace offers over 1000 categories. New sellers have 30 days for free selling before they charge selling fees.

  1. is completely dedicated to selling cell phones. If you have upgraded and want to get rid of your old phone, this is the place to go.


Sell your vintage furniture, sculpture, paintings, and handmade items like your grandmother’s quilt on Etsy. You can post an item for up to 4 months for a dollar.

Once you have sold and relocated many of the items in your storage unit at Mill Plain or one of our other Vancouver storage facilities, you can then move the clutter out of your home.

Iron Gate Storage
12406 SE 5th Street
Vancouver, WA 98683
(360) 799-5100

Storing Things the Right Way in a Climate-Controlled Unit

Many things can be stored in a regular storage unit at a Vancouver storage facility. The varying temperatures in summer and winter do not affect all items. But there are some things that require a little more protection, and they need to be stored in a climate-controlled unit. Extremes of temperature are rough on a wide variety of possessions.

Things You Need To Store in a Climate-Controlled Unit

Climate-controlled units keep temperature and humidity levels constant, which is a necessity for certain things:

  1. Furniture

Over time moisture can cause wood furniture to crack, warp, or rot. Wooden furniture like tables, chairs, dressers, bed frames and headboards, end tables, entertainment centers, nightstands, desks, and especially antique wooden furniture needs to be stored in a climate-controlled unit.

Leather furniture is extremely sensitive to extremes of heat and cold, and most leather furniture is expensive, so it makes sense to store it in a climate-controlled unit.

  1. Household appliances

Nowadays appliances contain many electronic parts. While the electronic components offer us a wide range of capabilities we did not have on older appliances, they need protection from the extremes of heat and cold. Dishwashers, washers, dryers, stoves, and smaller appliances such as convection ovens and microwave ovens all need to be stored in a climate-controlled unit.

  1. Special collections

Coins need a constant temperature and humidity to keep them from oxidizing and becoming ruined. Copper and silver especially tarnish readily in humidity and extremes of temperature, and their value lessens when this happens.

Stamps that are stored in temperature extremes and high humidity will curl and stick, making them depreciate in value.

Wines are particularly susceptible to damage from temperature extremes, as they can accelerate the aging of the wines, giving them a metallic taste.

  1. Photos and other memorabilia

Climate control is a must for photos if you want to preserve the memories they captured. Heat can make photos stick together and deteriorate. High humidity can cause the words on pages to blur, making them indecipherable.

  1. Electronics

Climate control reduces the risk of damage to expensive electronics. Neither the screens nor the internal components of television screens do well in extremes pf temperature. Humidity is disastrous for electronics.

A climate controlled unit at a Vancouver storage facility costs a bit more than a regular unit, but when you consider what you would lose with a regular units extremes of temperature and humidity, it is well worth the slight extra expense.

Iron Gate Storage
2410 E 5th St
Vancouver, OR 98661
(360) 362-8080

8 Ways to Store More Things in Your Unit

Organization is the key to being able to put more things in your storage unit at Beaverton. When your things are organized and stored properly, they are more accessible and you can fit more things into your unit.

8 Ways to Enjoy More Storage at Beaverton

Organization that allows you to store more things in your storage unit begins long before you move anything into it:

  1. Deciding what to move into storage is the first step. When getting ready to pack your things for storage, gather similar things together. That way, each box has similar things and can be more easily labeled.
  1. If you want to take organization to the level of always being able to find what you have stored, you can get a list app for your cell phone that lets you list every single item you put in each box. Your list app will likely come with a handy program that lets you download your lists to your computer and print out a report for each item. Ideally the list program will also be searchable, or it will transfer in text format to a spreadsheet program that is searchable.
  1. Label each box. Some people label boxes as being from the room the things were in originally, as in Living Room 1, Living Room 2. The labels combined with the lists of items in each box guarantees that whatever you need from the boxes will be available when you need it.
  1. Not all things lend themselves to being put in boxes. Getting plastic or metal tall shelving to put in your storage unit helps you have a place to put those things that do not fit in a box well.
  1. Always stack boxes with the heaviest on the bottom and lighter ones as you go up the stack.
  1. Pack the moving truck with the things that will go to the rear of the storage unit at the end of the truck so they can come off the truck first.
  1. Stack boxes and shelving along all three sides of your storage unit. Stack the boxes so you can read the labels, so that you can reach the top box, and so that the stack is stable. An unstable stack is dangerous.
  1. Leave an aisle all the way around, and then begin putting things into the center of your unit, ensuring that you can get to everything inside the unit.

With a little bit of organization, you will truly enjoy your Beaverton storage unit.

Iron Gate Storage
4050 SW 160th Ave
Beaverton, OR 97007
(503) 649-7531

Types of Packing Materials Available

Packing boxes for storage can be daunting if all you have to wrap things with is old newspapers. Newsprint often comes off onto the things it is wrapped around, and can be quite difficult to remove, especially from delicate items.

Wrapping and Packaging Materials Safeguard Your Things

There are many wrapping materials available at Downtown/Westside and other Vancouver storage facilities:

  1. Bubble wrap

The fancy name for it is “encapsulated air plastic sheeting,” but we know it as bubble wrap. It is the packing material many people love to use because when no one is looking, they can relieve their frustrations by popping the bubbles. It also wraps things well, protecting them from harm.

Bubble wrap is great for lightweight items because it can be cut to wrap almost any size and shape of item. Use the small cell bubble wrap (bubble wrap with small bubbles) to protectively wrap items, wrapping fragile things with more than one layer. The large cell bubble wrap is for cushioning.

Fragile items need to be at least two inches from each other, with bubble wrap in the spaces between items and in between layers of items. Use the large bubble wrap to cushion the sides and bottom of the box before beginning to pack the box.

  1. Kraft paper

Not quite as thick as most grocery store paper bags, Kraft paper makes a great filler for boxes with fragile things in them.

  1. Packing peanuts

These peanuts are not the crunchy kind from which peanut butter is made, but the packaging peanuts. While the standard for peanuts used to be Styrofoam, the newer peanuts are made of a biodegradable material. Styrofoam, while a terrific idea, takes over 500 years to degrade in a landfill, and is a problem for communities and the environment. Today’s biodegradable peanuts are made of static-free starch that decomposes in water with no toxic waste.

Vermiculite is sometimes used instead of peanuts for cushioning as it can be used afterward as a soil conditioner.

  1. Packing foam

Foam is generally made of polystyrene or polyurethane. It comes in rolls that can be cut or torn at perforations, and it is available in pouches. The polystyrene foam is best used when packing lighter items, while the polyurethane foam has more protective cushioning.

  1. Edge protectors

Edge protectors are made of various materials, and are used to protect the edges of furniture when it is being moved. They are also used to stabilize stacks of boxes.

You’ll be able to purchase a variety of packaging materials to meet your packing and storage needs at our Downtown/Westside or other Vancouver storage facilities.

Iron Gate Storage
1200 West Fourth Plain
Vancouver, WA 98660
(360) 419-4200

Renting a Truck to Move Items into Storage

Renting a truck to move your things into storage ought to be an easy thing to do, but it seems, for many people, it is a frustrating and complicated task. That is why the Orchards free move-in truck is so popular.

Games Truck Rental Companies Play

If you need to move your things into storage on a day the Orchards free move-in truck is already booked, you may run into some of these issues:

  1. With most truck rental companies, your reservation is not guaranteed until the day before your actual move. The companies call people the day before, tell them what size truck is available (which may not be the size you asked for or need), and confirm the reservation. If they are unable to get hold of you, all bets are off as to whether you will get a truck on the day you reserved one.
  1. Truck rental rates are based on complex algorithms that take into account the time of the month, the season, what trucks are available, whether it is a one-way travel rental with a drop off in another city that may have or need inventory of that size truck, and what pickup location you have chosen. Thus, the rental rates can vary widely from the advertised low rental rate.
  1. You may find that the small truck you felt would meet your needs has been switched to the larger truck that only gets 9 miles per gallon gas mileage. If you are moving only a few things, you may find that a car rental company that has cargo vans is less expensive than a truck rental.
  1. Truck rentals do not typically come with insurance, so you need to check your auto and homeowners insurance policies to see if you and your things are covered. If not, it is wise to opt for the coverage available through reputable truck rental companies. Damage waivers protect you from damage or theft of the truck. Supplemental liability covers property damage or bodily injury you may accidentally cause with the truck. Personal and cargo policies cover your things while they are inside the truck, and auto tow protection protects you if your car is damaged or stolen while it is being towed by the truck.
  1. If in moving your things, you require help, the cabs of moving trucks have little space for extra people. A ten-foot truck can accommodate two people and the larger trucks can seat three.

If you can schedule your move in with the Orchards manager, using our free move in truck will definitely make your move into your Orchards storage unit or one of our other Vancouver storage facilities easier.

Iron Gate Storage
7920 North East 117th Avenue
Vancouver, WA 98662
(360) 799-5082

Strange Things Found in Storage Units

Abandoned storage units are treasure troves for some people. There are often many valuable things left in them, but occasionally some strange things show up also.

Storage Unit Treasures

Storage units at Pearson Airport and other Vancouver storage facilities are abandoned for several reasons. In some cases the renter just can no longer afford to pay the rent. Other times, the owner passes away and whoever is handling his or her estate knows nothing about the storage unit.

In one widely reported case, the auctioneer of the A&E show Storage Wars, Dan Dotson, auctioned off the contents of a storage unit to a San Jose, California, man for $1,100. The storage unit belonged to a self-designated computer hacker being tried for fraud and identity theft who had allegedly stolen over $4 million via fraudulent tax returns. Over $500,000 in rare coins, silver, and gold bars was found in his storage unit after the auction.

In another of the Storage Wars auctions, another San Jose foreclosed storage unit was found to contain pirate’s treasure that was over 200 years old and worth more than $500,000. The successful bidder paid $1,000 for it.

Still another lucky auction purchase of the contents of an abandoned storage unit in 2011 yielded an almost mint copy of Action Comics Number 1 stolen in 2000 from actor Nicolas Cage. Cage purchased it for $150.000 in 1997, and when it was recovered, it was valued at $2,161,000.

While James Bond might want his drink shaken but not stirred, the lucky purchaser of the storage container that contained the original Lotus Esprit S1 used in the James Bond movie, The Spy Who Loved Me, can have his both ways if he wants. He purchased the container that housed the classic car in 1989 in Long Island, NY for $100. He sold the car in 2013 for $865,000.

Storage Unit Head Scratchers

Not every abandoned storage unit at Pearson Airport or other storage facilities contains treasures. Some are just filed with junk, and some have things in them that leave the purchasers of the abandoned unit scratching their heads and wondering why anyone would put something like what they found in a storage unit. Here are some of the stranger ones:

  • A human leg kept by an amputee so he could be buried with it
  • The remains of a hoarder’s 95-year-old grandmother
  • A live hand grenade
  • An intended breeding site for pythons found when Minnesota detectives opened a unit with 32 dead ball python snakes
  • A unit filled with smelly used toilets

Storage units at Pearson Airport are a great place to put all kinds of things, but neither Pearson Airport nor our other Vancouver facilities will welcome grandma’s body or a live grenade.

Iron Gate Storage
2225 East 5th Street
Vancouver, WA 98661
(360) 899-0030

Storage Do’s and Don’ts

If you are using a storage unit for the first time, or even if you are a long-time user of storage facilities, it helps to know some of the ways you can make your storage unit accessible, safe and secure. You’ll also need to know how to protect your valuables while they are stored.

Things Not Recommended for Storage in Mill Plain Storage Facilities

There are several things that can have an adverse effect on either you or your valuable things if attempt to store them:

  • The following things are not recommended to be put in a storage unit because they may spoil or attract mice or insects: bird seed, liquids, pets and food.
  • Flammable items, firecrackers, fireworks, explosives, gas cans and propane, oxygen or other gas cylinders are “don’ts” also because they may ignite and destroy not only your things, but the treasures stored by other folks in the other units. Be sure to drain all of the oil and fuel from oil lanterns, lawn mowers, dirt bikes and gasoline powered equipment such as weed eaters, chain saws and leaf blowers before storing them in your unit. (These things are for your safety and some are also part of local laws.)
  • Do not ever leave your unit unlocked when you or someone you trust will not be there, as your things will no longer be secure.
  • Do not leave pets of any type in your storage unit. This is animal cruelty as extremes of heat and cold can kill animals.
  • Do not pile things up so very high in your unit that they might fall on you as you work in your unit.
  • Do not give out your key and access codes to others unless you are joint tenants of the unit. Make sure you always accompany others who are not joint tenants to your unit.
  • Don’t underestimate the amount of space you will need to store your things.
  • Do not hesitate to ask the manager at Mill Plain or one of the other Vancouver locations for assistance.

Things That Make Storing Your Things Easier

Storing your treasured items can be quite easy if you use these handy tips:

  • Be sure to get a good lock for your unit, specifically one that cannot be opened with a hack saw.
  • While it may seem like an extra unnecessary expense, be sure to get renter’s insurance or extend your homeowner’s insurance policy to cover your storage facility. You never know when an accident might happen that affects you or your property in storage. It is always much better to be protected.
  • Stack items in your unit by putting the heavier ones on the bottom and the lighter ones on top.
  • Leave an aisle all the way around your things so that you have things stored against the wall on three sides and in the middle. This makes all your things accessible.

When you are in doubt about whether anything can be stored in the Mill Plain facility or in one of the other Vancouver storage facilities, ask the manager.

Iron Gate Storage
12406 SE 5th Street
Vancouver, WA 98683
(360) 799-5100