When Chris Paterson drove into the Windsor Portable Storage lot with a few hundred dollars in his pocket Thursday, he already knew the locker he was bidding on: the one holding more than 3,500 Playboy magazines.
"Memories from my younger days," Paterson said with a shy smile. "A lot of Playboy magazines and to me a lot of dollar signs."
The bidding was like a scene from the TV show Storage Wars, with a crowd gathered around the unit waiting for the door to be unlocked.
"I didn't think I was actually going to make it here today," said Paterson. "It just so happened my timing was right and I made it in. Last one to sign up and first one to get a locker."
A crowd of about 30 people gathered around locker 3, rumoured to be carrying the famous 1953 Playboy issue that featured a young Marilyn Monroe.
"We open up the locker for two minutes let the people take a look in," said Richard Piet, who runs the auction. "They're not allowed to step in, not allowed to open boxes, but they have to pretty well have a visual guesstimate of what the locker is worth and then they bid on it. "
The bidding on locker #3 started at $50.
"I actually almost didn't make that last bid," said Paterson. "I was going to let it go ... but something inside said I better do it."
$15 to $20K in value
Patterson won the unit at $250, quite a bargain for what it's actually worth, said Piet.
"He's got probably somewhere between $15,000 and $20,000 worth of retail," said Piet. "Then if you put them on eBay he would get a least that amount of money for it."
The lot came from a collector who owned an antique store, said Piet. He ended up being late on the rent for the locker so the owner put it up for auction.
"Some of the magazines singly are $50 to $75 dollars, there's a price sticker on them," he said. "Most are in perfect condition because they're wrapped in plastic — they're protected from the elements."
Though Paterson doubts the Marilyn Monroe edition is hidden in one of the dusty cardboard boxes, Piet thinks otherwise.
"I think it's in there," said Piet. "Anybody that has a collection like that, that's probably the first magazine they'd like to have in their collection. I've seen them on eBay anywhere from $75 to $600."
The next step for Paterson is going through the boxes and getting the magazines organized.
"Take them home and categorize them in the year and the month and separate the styles of them," he said. "Start doing my research on them and see where the best place is to sell them or look for some collectors."
Though he's going to try to sell the collection to turn a profit, Paterson found one copy he's not letting go of.
"One of my first ones as a kid," he said blushing as he holds the magazine he just pulled from one of the boxes. "This was one of my favourite ones, the Bo Derek."