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Forgotten Collections, a unique find in Richardton

Brandi Harrington, owner of Forgotten Collections, started by buying abandoned storage units and was soon receiving donations for her own store in Richardton. In her office, she folds a new pair of pants for sale. Brandon L. Summers / The Dickinson Press1 / 3
Brandi Harrington enjoys going through other people's things, she said. Some of the incredible items she's found while buying abandoned storage units include a four-wheeler, a boat and a grandfather clock. She now has her own store in Richardton. Brandon L. Summers / The Dickinson Press2 / 3
Brandi Harrington, Forgotten Collections owner, has more things than can fit in her garage, her own storage units and even the backroom of her Richardton store. Here, she puts away some Christmas items and prepares to bring out newer items, including some quality furniture. Brandon L. Summers / The Dickinson Press3 / 3

Brandi Harrington knew she wanted to become a storage warrior, but she did not know that passion would lead to her opening her own secondhand store in Richardton, called Forgotten Collections.

The store opened October 2016, but already Harrington was buying out the contents of abandoned storage units, like the heroes of her favorite TV series.

"I started by buying abandoned storage units out of state and bringing the stuff back in," she explained. "Then the local community started donating to my store, so I actually have a mix of donated items as well as items I purchased out of storage units."

Harrington pursued buying out storage units after becoming afflicted by a debilitating medical condition.

"I actually got sick so I couldn't do the nine-to-five job thing anymore, and I've watched 'Storage Wars' as a lot of people have and just fell into it," she said. "I bought a storage unit just to see how it would go."

Purchasing that first storage unit space was an "exciting" experience for Harrington.

"It's like winning the lottery, or like when you go to the casino and you're gambling," she said. "It's pretty exhilarating to get that storage unit, have that competition."

One purchase lead to another, with the bulk of her finds going into garage sales and being sold online.

"I figured I could just sell the stuff that wasn't garbage, basically," she said. "I could just sell it in a garage sale or something, and maybe sell the nicer stuff on Facebook or something like that, just to supplement my income, because I wasn't able to work anymore."

Eventually, her garage and three additional storage units became overfilled. Luckily, though, a retail space "fell into my lap."

"I ended up making enough money selling the bigger items, the furniture and stuff like that, I was able to get the store and rent it for three months," she said. "And then my father-in-law bought it, because the gentleman who owned it went into the nursing home."

She added, "We bought the store and I guess now we're permanent."

Realizing she had achieved enough success to open her own store was a dream come true for Harrington.

"It was actually like one of those far off dreams I had a long time ago, to have my own little store," she said. "It wasn't something that I thought was going to be possible, ever, and then it became possible, and I just feel like everything is falling into place."

With a nice space on both Richardton's main thoroughfare and a state highway, Harrington uses her profits to further improve her store.

"It's slowly getting fixed up," she said. "All profit goes to renovating the building right now and getting it back up to where it should be."

In the store, visitors can find an assortment of goods, including books and videos, clothing for all ages and sizes, quality furniture and household items, as well as curios and unique, quirky decorative items.

New items are always coming in, as well.

Harrington especially enjoys "going through people's stuff" and making unusual discoveries.

"It's amazing the stuff people leave behind," she said. "These are all abandoned storage units the people haven't been paying for and then they auction them off to the highest bidder. It's amazing how people will pay to store stuff, and then just forget about it or leave it there and just go about their day."

Among her zaniest finds, Harrington has found entire vehicles.

"I found a four-wheeler behind mattresses, underneath a tarp, and nobody knew it was there until we started taking everything out," she said. "A 2008 Polaris four-wheeler. It was a really great find."

Harrington once also found a small boat.

"It needed repair," she said. "The engine was completely taken apart when it was in the storage unit. My husband put the engine back together, it ran great and we sold it."

There are times, too, when Harrington finds only the expected old Christmas lights and most of a set of encyclopedias.

"There have been a couple of units that I have gotten that have turned out to be junk," she said. "It wasn't worth it. So it's a little disappointing. That's something you've got to keep an eye on."

Since opening in 2016, Harrington has enjoyed being a business owner.

"I am very appreciative of Richardton and the surrounding areas," she said. "The people that have come into the store have really made it possible for me to be here. I am super grateful that I've had the support from the outlying communities, (who) come into Richardton and shop in my store. It also brings people to the other businesses in town."

She added, "I actually enjoy coming to work every day. I love it."