Buying Shipping Containers

How to "Cherry" Pick The Best Used Shipping Container in Stock

In the world of buying used shipping containers, it's really the million dollar question. You're taking the risk of buying a piece of equipment that can be up to 20 years old and still costs thousands of dollars. So you want to be sure you're getting the best one. Or at least the best looking one...right?

So today, we're going to tell you exactly how to do that. You may not like our solution...but trust us, it's the most honest story you're going to read all day!

Let's playback the call we get 100 times a day first. "Hello'd like to get a used shipping container for the absolute lowest price ever...and I want it to look perfect. In fact, if you don't mind, can you send me a few pictures of my exact shipping container so I can approve it first. Thanks!" 

In this article, we're going to tell you why this DOES NOT WORK, and we'll share the reality of the shipping container yard...and who's really in control of the inventory!

Who the hell is George? 

Let's take a moment to introduce you to George. George got up at 3:30 this morning, like he does everyday and drove 90 minutes in traffic to the worst neighborhood our lovely city has to offer (doesn't matter which city...container yards are always in the worst part of town). George just may have a had a few spirits last night...and may not be in the best mood today. But George has a very important job to do...he's the Yard Lift Operator. And he has to coordinate all the shipping containers in the yard today and everyday.

GeorgeNow we don't want you to think for one second George doesn't care about your desire to pick out that diamond in the rough. George cares deeply. In fact he takes great pride in knowing where every little hidden gem in the yard of over 10,000 shipping containers is located. But George has his own goals and dreams. Like getting through those last 32 truck payments, and stashing a little change for the thursday night card game. So what's the point of this great story about our new friend?

The point of this story is to tell you how to "Cherry Pick" the best used shipping container in the yard. And we've arrived at the moment of truth.


The next paragraph outlines 5 simple steps to achieving your goal.

  1. Call the nice salesman back who promised you that amazing container...and close the deal! Pay for your storage container and he or she will give you a "release number". This magic number gives you the right to go and see George! And pick up your shipping container.
  2. Drive across town to that area you told your kids to never ever ever ever....ever, goto and look for the sign for the "Some Container Yard". Please don't be confused by the 6 or 7 yards that look exactly alike. And if you get lost, just ask one of the friendly longshoreman or dockworkers where George works. They all know him.
  3. Go inside the sales trailer. It's the one marked "All Truckers Enter Here". Don't worry...they know your not a trucker and once inside, they will treat you with the extra care and respect a buying customer deserves. 
  4. Give the counter person your paperwork the salesman provided with the "release number", and tell them you are here to retrieve your newly purchased shipping container. DO NOT under any circumstances let them know your going to ask for the best shipping container in the yard. This will instantly kill our carefully planned adventure. After 45 minutes of being ignored you will be instructed to proceed to the loading area, with all the other very nice truckers. Do as instructed and we're almost home!
  5. Please pay close attention to this part as its critical:Properly folded bribe
  • 1st: As you enter the front of the line where George is loading the trucks. Get out of your vehicle and walk up to the lift and wave George over.
  • 2nd: Take a Fifty Dollar bill from your wallet, fold it in half. Fold it in half again so it fits nicely in your palm. 
  • 3rd: Greet George with your best "Good Morning". Shake George's hand firmly with the perfectly folded $50 bill tucked nicely in your palm, and transfer these funds to George's rugged grip. There's no need to discuss this transaction in detail.
  • 4th: Tell George, "Sir...I'd like the best used shipping container in this yard". George will smile for the first time today...and say "No problem Mr. or Mrs. Container buyer...I know right where the prefect unit is located and I'll grab that special one for you now".

You've completed the mission. George will return with a great container for you. He's no stranger to this transaction and keeps a nice little pile of tucked away units in the yard just for these special occasions.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Trying to Get the Best Shipping Container

Here are a few common traps to avoid when trying to find the perfect used cargo container.

  • Paying your sales rep extra money, because he promised you a great unit. ( this never works so don't waste the money)
  • Paying a "Digging fee" to the company selling the shipping container. This money goes to the company (Not George!), and while the boss might tell George to dig out a great unit, you will never get one of George's tucked away little gems...because George hates his boss.
  • Showing up extra early to be first in line for that days loading of shipping containers. All truckers show up early. In fact half of them have probably slept in their trucks just outside the yard. George won't care how early you get there. You'll get the first unit off the top of the pile.
  • Showing George a picture of the container the sales rep promised you. If you've read this far, you must know how ridiculous this is to believe.

So there's a little sarcasm in our well crafted story (maybe). But we hope you get our point that hand picking a used shipping container takes quite a bit of effort..and it's not for everyone.

The Reality of What to Expect 

At we don't offer you any crazy promises. In fact our business model assumes you don't have all day to spend on buying  a used shipping container. We offer a simple set of guidelines to help you understand what to expect from our certified wind and watertight used shipping containers. If you don't like to read about what to expect, we put together a short video to help you visualize what our used shipping containers for sale should always have:

360 20ft Container no intro


We offer a transparent opportunity for buyers who appreciate time and value. And we've learned a long time ago some customers like to "kick the tires", and find the absolute best deal. We probably won't sell many containers to that buyer. But for those of you looking for a fair price and a reliable company to stand behind their offering...that's us.

If you're new to buying shipping containers, checkout our first time buyers guide "Buying Shipping Container 101" 

For seasoned buyers looking for instant pricing and inventory in your area, start here to select the right condition and size container. 

And for those who prefer to request a quote through traditional online forms, click the button below for a fast quote from our sales team. 

 Get a Quote   

Thanks for reading and happy container shopping from 

Written by Container Guru / December 31, 2018

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