You have your eye on a container on either eBay or Craigslist, but your natural inclination to protect yourself.  What do you need to check to make sure it goes well?  Well, after the Hanjin bankruptcy, even more care than before.

Back in October of 2011, we posted Thinking of Buying a Container on eBay or Craigslist? 4 things to think about, a post about things to consider when buying from eBay and Craigslist. To recap, the questions were:

  1. Where is the container you want?  Moving the container long distances quickly negates any savings on a good deal.
  2. How will it be delivered? If they are including delivery, get the particulars so that it really gets to where you want it and is set on the ground, if that is what you need. If delivery is not included, can they put the container on a truck? Can a truck get in to pick it up?
  3. Is that the actual container you are going to get? You don't want to get sold on a beautiful container only to find out the one you get is a piece of junk with tons of holes.
  4. What about common sense safety?  Think about all the usual stuff you think about when buying on those sites. Since our original post, some police departments have set up safe zones for finalizing online sales in the real world. Unfortunately, that rarely works for containers. So use your common sense and protect yourself.

But what about this business with the Hanjin bankruptcy?  How does that change anything? Well, it would mean an increase of stolen containers on those sites. The news talked about ships and crews stuck at sea because ports didn't want to risk being stuck with the bills to offload those ships and the huge fees that come along with that. But that really is the tip of the iceberg. There are plenty of Hanjin containers already in the US. Hanjin owns most of those containers, plus leasing lines own plenty of them too.

Those containers are stored in different cities throughout the US in private yards that the shipping line and leasing lines have contracted with for storage needs. And there are plenty of Hanjin containers that have already been sold by Hanjin and the leasing companies over the years.  This adds up to quite a few containers out there that in the container market. The vast majority of people dealing with these containers are taking great pains to make sure that these containers are not stolen or sold illegally.  But whenever there are this many containers out there and people know that there is turmoil, someone will try to exploit the situation. 

Most of those shady players will steer clear of the traditional container market.  It is easier for people who deal in containers on a regular basis to spot these stolen containers. They are vendors we have never heard of, or have containers from different series or prefixes that send off warning bells to us. But to people who do not buy containers regularly won't be in a position to identify stolen containers as easily. It stands to reason that these players will go to the eBays and Craiglist sites of the world to cash in on these stolen containers.

So what can you do? Find out if the vendor is a container seller or if they are doing this on the side.  Check if they are members of the Better Business Bureau or the National Portable Storage Association. If they are not a regular container vendor, I would not buy a container that says HANJIN on the side of it. There is also a question about leased containers. They will not necessarily say Hanjin on them, but could be containers stolen off of Hanjin ships that didn't belong to Hanjin, but do belong to a leasing line. Those are much harder to spot and confirm.  So if anything feels off about the transaction, we recommend erring on the side of caution. If they are a regular container vendor, check them out the best you can and make sure the company didn't just pop up in time to sell these containers and lack the usual basics - a website, a real address, a phone number, etc.

The bottom line is at least for the time being, use caution and common sense when buying containers from classified-ad and auction websites.




AuthorSuper Cubes LLC

A Night to Matter at Sun Country's cargo hangar.  The stage is set with containers and an airplane

Super Cubes is proud to support Matter, a non-profit committed to the health of people both globally and within Minnesota. Matter's A Night to Matter is their annual gala and fundraiser for the organization.  The gala was in Sun Country's cargo hangar and decorated with Super Cubes containers. 

This virtual reality booth was made from a leftover "tube" of container.

The venue was an exciting change for Super Cubes since we could finally bring in some containers to the event. In previous years we have all tried to figure out how to get them into hotel ballrooms.  Instead, we were able to convert containers into an entryway to the event and house a virtual reality booth where attendees were able to get 360 views of some of the global projects that Matter worked on in the past year.

Super Cubes brought in containers to help create a stage along with the front of a Sun Country airplane.  The program featured their Gorgui Deing Project: Senegal, a project that is bringing food, agricultural equipment and healthcare to Senegal with the help of Minnesota Timberwolves Gorgui Deing, and their New DAWN Africa project, which built a hospital in Dandora, a slum outside of Nairobi, Kenya. Gene Simmons received Matter's Humanitarian Award for his commitment and involvement with Matter.  Darius Rucker performed his solo work as well as some Hootie & the Blowfish favorites.

The two smaller containers were actually leftover pieces of containers from a previous customer project.  We had shortened some 40' high cube containers to be 25' and 28' high cubes. To do that, we cut off one end of the container, cut down the container, then reattach the end.  At the end of the project, we are left with a "tube" of container. We took those tubes, framed out the ends, put in corner castings to make moving them around easier and relaid the floors. Matter wrapped the containers in their marketing materials.

Here are some other pictures of the event.

And a bonus - Darius Rucker singing.

Here are some pictures of us bringing in the containers before the event.



Our shop in Chicago has put together this 2-story building made from 3 containers. They made it to show how a few of the modifications can work for their customers.  The first floor is one large open room that spans two 40' containers wide. 

They used used containers to show how well they work for this kind of project. They cut out the walls of both of the ground-floor containers and then built back in support for the container roofs where the two containers meet.  The floors were coated with a clear epoxy to seal them up from the inside. 

They installed a stair case that takes up about half of the width of one of the containers and by having turn and landing in the stairs, the staircase was able to take up minimal space in the container and require minimal cutting in the second story container floor.

The second floor is a single container plus a deck.  They installed a railing and decking material to make it safe.  They also used left over pieces of the container walls to create an awning over the second story.

Since this is to show off how certain parts of the modifications work, it is not insulated, nor does it have plumbing.

Hopefully this will give you some inspiration when planning your container project!