Li Du wasn't sure if he had done this deliberately to rev up the emotions of the treasure hunters, but the storage unit Chalmers had chosen to open first was the one containing the whole set of imitation antique furniture.
Li Du gave eye signals to a few of his friends. Everyone was lining up to view the unit but as there weren't many people, the viewing had ended quickly.
Over the past few days, Chalmers had watched many videos and documentaries relating to storage auctions and auctions in general. He had also called his cousin Rick to find out more about this industry.
As such, he had seen how the auctioneers would raise their hands. He did the same and then said rapidly, "Come on, give me a bid! Everyone, everyone, everyone. You guys have an idea of the value of this unit? How about I price it at 2,500 dollars?"
Upon hearing this price, some treasure hunters were shocked and said, "This idiot, is he mad? Twenty-five hundred dollars for this type of personal storage unit? He's not referring to US dollars, is he?"
"Even if it were in Zimbabwe's currency, I still think it is too high," the treasure hunter next to him grumbled.
Chalmers had stated this price after due consideration.
Dickens already told him that this set of furniture was worth more than 2,500 dollars. Consequently, he did not want to bid too low and be taken advantage of.
When learning about storage auctions during the past few days, Rick had told him to observe some regulations.
For instance, there would be occasions when the treasure hunters would crowd together but not participate in the bidding. Such units would usually be transacted at lower prices.
He was worried that he would encounter such issues, so he had stated a bid that would at least be profitable to him.
When the starting bid was mentioned, Dickens raised his hand. "I bid 2,500 dollars."
Chalmers was thrilled. Upon seeing Dickens, he pointed at him. "Great, this guy is bidding 2,500 dollars. He really has good foresight. This unit is worth more than 2,500 dollars. Next will be 2,600 dollars!"
Saying that had exposed him as a novice. Any experienced auctioneer would not say such a thing.
The experienced ones would not state how much the unit was worth. Otherwise, if people were to discover that the prices of the units differed from what he had stated, then they would give him trouble and ruin his reputation.
However, Chalmers couldn't care less since this was a one-time thing. As long as he could sell the units off at higher prices, he wasn't bothered if anyone should complain.
Turis raised his hand to signal. "I bid for two thousand six hundred dollars."
Chalmers got even happier and shouted, "The price is raised to 2,600 dollars. This dude has good foresight and has made a great choice. This unit is clearly worth more, how about 2,700 dollars? Anyone willing to take it?"
Lu Guan, who had shown his face previously, nodded and said, "I offer 2,700 dollars."
The price escalated steadily, reaching 3,000 dollars. No one offered any higher bids and after shouting out a few times, Chalmers said somewhat dejectedly, "Alright, 3,000 dollars. This storage unit goes to this chap."
The bidder was Dickens. He locked the unit up and whistled as he moved on to the next.
The second unit was the one with the magazines. Chalmers had wanted to auction off his own units first, when the treasure pickers were excited and full of energy to bid.
On seeing the boxes filled with magazines, Li Du heaved a sigh of relief. His real intention had been revealed.He was finally reaching his goal.
The magazines were placed in the boxes, so one could not tell what the contents were just by looking at them.
Once again, Chalmers's behavior showed that he was a rookie. He pointed to the unit and said, "This unit does not contain furniture but holds many interesting things. Look at the dust, absolutely untouched by anyone. There may be treasures hidden inside."
The treasure hunters sneered and said, "What could there be? A heap of garbage?"
Chalmers argued, "Hey dude, you're wrong. There're many great things inside, such as some amazing books!"
"I'll go to the bookstores to get books," one of the treasure hunters said.
Something interesting was about to happen. Chalmers, the auctioneer, was not keeping up with the momentum of the auction, but was about to engage in a debate with this treasure hunter.
Hans got impatient and said, "Hurry up and get on with the auction. We've got other matters to deal with. Get it started and end it soon!"
Chalmers said resentfully, "Alright, the starting bidding price of this unit is 1,000 dollars. Who is willing to offer 1,000 dollars? There are many books inside, and they could be sold for more than 1,000 dollars if a suitable buyer could be found."
The full set of National Geographic magazines could be sold at a good price, even as paper for recycling. However, there wasn't any place that collects recycled paper in the US. Waste papers would need to be sent to the garbage processing factory instead.
On hearing the reported price, Lu Guan appeared. He took a deep breath and said, "I will take it for 1,000 dollars."
The treasure hunters were shaking their heads. This unit was not worth that price. The magazines could be worth some money, but it would be difficult finding a buyer. It wasn't worth the risk.
Noticing that the crowd was not actively engaging in the bidding, Chalmers got anxious. He shouted the price out loud a few times and despite his cajoling and praises, the treasure pickers were not moved.
The treasure hunters present were all veterans. How could they be so easily swayed to make a bad choice?
To them, it would be a mistake to buy a storage unit with only a stack of magazines in it.
Since no one else bid, Chalmers waved his hand helplessly. "Alright dude, you got a great deal. This unit is yours."
Lu Guan counted out ten Ben Franklins on the spot and passed them to the temporary accountant, Chalmers's wife. He now owned that storage unit.
At this point, Li Du felt relieved at achieving his goal. Chalmers, that sly fox, hadn't managed to defeat him, the veteran hunter.
The treasure hunters walked towards the next storage unit. Lu Guan did not follow them but instead stayed with Godzilla and Big Quinn to sort out the items.
Li Du had found out that this Chalmers guy was not a selfless person. He was a rascal. He had plotted to get his hands on his uncle's houses.
Therefore, if he had known that the unit had magazines worth millions of dollars, he would regret having held the earlier auction.
What about the rest of the storage units? Well, they were completely worthless. The treasure hunters did not even bid on them. After viewing the first four units, people were starting to leave.
The auctions for two of the storage units were canceled. Chalmers was livid but when he thought of the 4,000 dollars he had earned, he perked up again.
He had thought these storage units were worthless, but had actually received 4,000 dollars in exchange. Furthermore, there was free labor to help clean up the units. He had benefited on all fronts.
In addition, he had even left himself a means of escape!
The auction of his four storage units was completed and it was his neighbor's turn to conduct the auction.
Why would any of these storage units be worth anything? They were all filled with abandoned household items. The treasure hunters were not scavengers and would not be interested.
Except for the first two units, the auctions for the rest of the units were all canceled. The treasure hunters did not have the slightest interest to put in any bids.
Seeing that, Chalmers felt that something was amiss, but could not put his finger on it.