If you watch a lot of reality TV, you might have considered buying the contents of a repossessed storage unit to sell for a profit as a way to make some cold, hard cash like the people on “Storage Wars” or “Auction Hunters” do. Shane Jones from Wakefield, Rhode Island, happened to see some YouTube videos of people doing just that and thought it was an excellent opportunity.
It wasn’t the 16-year-old’s first foray into earning money or discovering deals to resell. He had some savings from a summer job at a used bookstore and enjoys collecting or flipping finds from various sources.
“It’s just something fun to do,” Jones told WJAR. “Doesn’t usually take up space. I focus on small stuff, bottles, coins, and I go to yard sales. I metal detect. I like recovering things.”
Purchasing the items in a storage unit, sight unseen, seemed like a fun experience. In August 2020, Jones paid about $100 for a unit at auction in nearby Providence and began to look through the “treasures.”
Jones created a Facebook page called Shane Jones’ Storage Savers. Here he is, via his new page, where he’s been re-posting news coverage about his acts of kindness.
“I realized this isn’t just something like yard sales where they gave it to me and sold it to me,” Jones told Providence’s WJAR. “This is where their stuff was taken because they couldn’t pay it. There was mail and a lot of personal documents in a pile. That’s the time I realized this is not just junk. This is someone’s personal belongings that they lost.”
That’s when the South Kingstown High School sophomore made the selfless decision to track down the former owner and give them their belongings. With his parents’ help, Jones located the man’s mother, who was thrilled to have her son’s items. But he wasn’t done yet.
As you can see in this post on his school’s Facebook page, Jones started saving money to buy storage units in the hopes of returning the items to their owners.
“Since the summer, Shane has saved storage unit possessions of three different families,” South Kingstown School District posted. “All of the people were shocked and overcome with gratitude for this thoughtful act of compassion and kindness. They had things like family heirlooms, photos, paperwork, furniture, etc., returned to them. One woman had lost a child to SIDS and the only photos and possessions of her baby were in her locker. Another woman had her son’s only possessions returned to her, while he was detained in prison. An elderly couple had family memories returned to them from their storage unit.”
Many followers have suggested that he start a GoFundMe so that others could support him on his mission. His mom, Sarah Markey, says that her son “realizes that kindness inspires kindness.”
“Buying the contents of a storage unit and giving them back is a creative way to pay it forward,” she told the Washington Post. “Shane hopes that somebody else will get the idea to do the same thing in their own town.”
On giving away his hard-earned money and the time it takes to buy the units and locate the owners, Jones says he doesn’t mind doing it when he has the funds.
“It’s not mine,” he told WJAR. “They didn’t purposely give it to me, so why let other people suffer as I succeed?”