New Units Popping Up Everywhere
Want to know just how white-hot the self-storage market is? Look at all the new facilities going up across the country.
A total of 900 new self-storage centers are projected to be completed in 2017—that’s a 50% increase from the number of new units that opened last year, according to commercial real estate firm CBRE.
The top market for new facilities is Dallas, where 49 centers will be opened this year. Other top markets include Miami, New York, Houston and Atlanta.
There’s no need to worry about supply exceeding demand, according to commercial real estate experts.
“While some investors are concerned about the level of new construction, overall supply and demand metrics remain roughly in line,” said Christian Sonne, a valuation expert at CBRE.
What this all means for you is simple—if your abode is not currently located conveniently near a self-storage facility, chances are that’s likely to change soon.
Lock ‘Em Up
Locks for your storage cubicle come in all shapes and sizes. So, what’s the best one to use for your own storage unit? After all, you want to sleep at night knowing your stuff is safe and sound.
Most storage industry experts recommend the disc lock as the top choice. What makes them so great? It’s not possible to cut through it with bolt cutters, for starters. That’s because of the “U” shaped part of the lock.
Next, it’s resistant to being smashed with a hammer. A mighty hammer blow is not going to break this type of lock.
The lock itself is also very difficult to pick, due to that “U” shape.
The only way to get a disc lock off is by grinding down the bolt. And that takes special equipment, as well as a lot of time. In other words, not something your average thief is going to be willing to do.
Grab a couple of disc locks when you go to load stuff into your new self-storage unit!
Some new storage facilities are getting with the times when it comes to adopting modern design and environmental features.
A new facility planned for Bethesda, Md., has a sleek modern architectural design—you will probably look twice before you realize it’s a storage facility. It will also have a green roof and planter boxes.
Who says self-storage centers have to be basic and boring?
Santa’s Workshop at the North Pole has plenty of room for his elves to make all toys for all 1.9 billion children who live in the world.
But storage space? Eh, North Pole leaves a little to be desired when it comes to storage.
Once the elves construct all of these toys, Santa doesn’t have much space to keep them. He needs a practical place to store all of these days between the time they’re made and the time he departs on his sleigh the night of Christmas Eve.
A simple calculation shows how much space Santa will need to lease at the self-storage facility located nearest to the North Pole. (Santa might need to consult the Yellow Pages for Greenland to locate the best facility.)
Assuming each toy is the size of a shoebox, and there are 1.9 billion children on Earth, then Santa needs about 608 million cubic feet of storage space. How’d we get to that calculation? At most self-storage facilities, the largest unit for rent measures 10 feet by 20 feet, equal to a total of 1,600 cubic feet. Each shoebox measures about 0.32 cubic feet. So, each 10×20 unit can hold 5,000 shoeboxes.
To put a fine point on it, Santa needs to get out his checkbook and pay for about 380,000 storage units.
(Santa may need to locate more than a few dozen storage facilities in the Yellow Pages.)
If the children of the world have their eyes set on larger Christmas toys this year, Santa will really need to lease a bunch of space. If the average size of each toy is the size of, let’s say, a Jet Ski, then he’ll need to rent out 238 million storage units.
For Santa’s sake, let’s hope that the hot toys on kids’ Christmas lists are a bit smaller. Perhaps the Apple iPhone X? If each child gets an iPhone X, then Santa only needs to rent about 12,000 storage units.
Now that’s a happy Santa!
Strip Mall Becomes Storage Facility
What’s the best use of a vacant, outdated strip mall? Turn it into a self-storage facility, of course.
U-Haul has plans to do just that to a former strip mall in Baraboo, Wis. The facility has a temporary showroom while a permanent one is constructed, but otherwise it’s open for business. It’s also got moving and packing supplies for sale, and trucks for rent.
The strip mall once hosted a JCPenney store but it’s been vacant for about eight years.
“This is a beautiful community and it doesn’t deserve to have empty buildings sitting around and becoming outdated,” said Adam Sonnleitner, president of U-Haul’s local market.
U-Haul also has a planned conversion of a former retail property underway in Spokane, Wash.
Fire Victims Benefit Program
Speaking of U-Haul, the storage and truck-rental giant has launched a program to offer free space in its self-storage facilities to victims of a recent fire in Upstate New York.
A fire that blazed through Cohoes, N.Y., damaged or destroyed about 20 buildings.
“We extend our thoughts and prayers to the victims and their families,” said Ben Naaktgeboren, president of U-Haul’s local market. “This was the worst fire the city has seen and, being so close to the holidays, we want to support our community in any way possible.”
Whatever Happened to…?
If you ever wondered whatever happened to some of the original cast members of the show “Storage Wars,” you can wonder no more.
Barry Weiss, known for his sunglasses and quick wit, is being a “professional slacker” after trying his hand at a “Storage Wars” spin-off show. Dave Hester has moved into the storage auctioneering business. Darrell Sheets continues to plunder storage auctions. And Jarrod Schulz and Brandi Passante remain cast members.
The new season of “Storage Wars” started in November.
Admit it, you’ve wondered to yourself while unloading a pickup truck full of boxes at your self-storage unit, who are these people who rent units next to mine?
We’re glad you asked. As it turns out, people who use self-storage units come from all walks of life, claim membership in all generational groups (well, maybe not toddlers or pre-teens), and all income levels.
In other words, self-storage isn’t just for rich people with more stuff than they know what to do with, nor are they for only for folks who live in a home with limited closet space.
A recent survey shone a spotlight on the demographics of self-storage customers. The survey was conducted by Parham Group, a firm that provides construction services to the self-storage industry.
First off, the vast majority of the people who sign the dotted line on a self-storage rental agreement are women—about 84%, to be exact. But don’t think the men aren’t involved; nearly 95% of the folks who load and unload goods into a storage unit are of the male species.
The self-storage customer skews to the younger side. Almost 90% of the industry’s customer base are in the age range between 21 and 55—in other words, very few AARP members. And lots of millennials. And Generation X’ers. And newly minted college graduates. You get the picture.
While there are lots of wealthy families who rely on the self-storage industry, the client base as a whole tends to skew to the middle class. About 78% of self-storage customers report incomes that are classified as either lower middle income or upper middle income.
Don’t think your fellow storage users are all individuals or families, either. A healthy quarter of all self-storage unit renters are businesses. That’s right, your local burger joint or barber or plumber may be renting the storage unit just across the way from your own unit. Ask them for a discount on your next cheeseburger!
You may also be under the impression that all self-storage unit users are people who rent their primary residence. Well, you couldn’t be more wrong. While it may seem like renters are more transient or might have less closet space in their homes, the breakdown is almost 50-50 when it comes to self-storage unit customers in the largest markets—that’s half and half among homeowners and renters who use self-storage.
So there you have it. The next time you find yourself lifting a 300-pound cathode-ray tube TV out of your minivan and into a storage unit and you wonder who’s doing the same thing a few units down from you, it should no longer be a mystery who your self-storage neighbors are.
New Web Address for Storage Sites
You’ve heard of .com, .net, .edu, .org, and .us, of course. You’ve probably even heard of .ca (that’s for Canadian sites) and even somewhat-obscure Internet addresses using .tv, .info and so on and so forth.
Now get ready for “.storage” as an Internet address.
The Las Vegas company XYZ.com LLC has registered .storage as what’s called a “top-level domain suffix.” with the folks who manage URLs. XYZ.com acquired the rights to the suffix from Extra Space Storage.
About 700 entities have already paid for the rights to use .storage and the company expects plenty more to follow suit, said Shayam Rostam, a director at XYZ.com.
“We envision a lot being sold,” Rostam said. “This [.storage] is a valuable asset.”
That’s especially true as more and more URLs are being gobbled up that use the familiar .com and .net suffixes. It’s either too hard to come up with an inventive name using .com or .net, or too expensive to buy the rights to a name you like that already exists.
Think you’ve got what it takes to make a video commercial? Get your actors and cameras ready.
The company that owns the SmartStop self-storage chain has launched a contest for anyone to make a 30-commercial using the SmartStop logo and tagline. The commercial can use animation, jingles, stop-motion or live action.
“We are excited to launch our new video contest and open the door to boundless creativity from artists and free-thinkers throughout the United States,” SmartStop CEO Michael Schwartz said.
The winner gets a $10,000 grand prize.
South Beach or Bust
Good news for folks in the Miami area who need a place to store their stuff. A huge new storage facility is on its way.
A $20 million climate-controlled, eight-story facility, with about 100,000 square feet, will soon be under construction in the Little Havana neighborhood, between the Dolphin Expressway and Tamiami Trail. About 120,000 people live in this area, so there are plenty of people who will need to buy a storage unit there.
The project does not yet have a name, nor has the operator of the facility been identified.
Things You Can Hide in a Self-Storage Unit
What can hide in a self-storage unit, you ask? It’s a great question because the answer is: Lots of things!
The most obvious scenario for needing a big place to hide stuff is Christmas-time when you have little kids. Say you’ve got a giant dollhouse that you don’t want your 6-year-old girl to see. The perfect place to stash that princess castle is a self-storage unit!
Self storage isn’t just for huge toys either. Let’s say you’ve bought your 9-year-old son a drone for Christmas. Your self-storage unit is the perfect place to keep it a secret.
Even smaller items can be tucked away in a self-storage unit. Consider the situation where you’ve bought your fiancée a diamond engagement ring. And throw on to that the fact the she likes to poke around your place for things you may have hidden. She’ll never think to go over to your storage unit, and if you don’t give her a key to the storage unit, she couldn’t get in anyway. Now you can really surprise her at Christmas!
Even when it’s not Christmas, you can use your storage unit to hide all sorts of stuff. Birthday presents? Your storage unit is perfect for keeping a great gift under wraps.
Sensitive financial documents that don’t need to fall into the wrong hands? Why who would ever think to look in a storage unit for something like that. And, again, you’ve got it locked up anyhow, so no one is going to find your papers.
The mind runs wild at all the things that can be hidden in a storage unit. Just keep it legal!
ONLINE AUCTIONS – The best-known auctions for property left abandoned at self-storage facilities take place in person, on site, with a real-live auctioneer.
Some of those auctions have started moving online, however, and more than a few people are concerned that the auctions might not be on the up-and-up.
The same potential problems that occur with online auctions can also occur with live auctions, says Lonnie Bickford, who owns a storage facility in Louisiana. Buyers, as well as facility owners trying to sell items, simply need to take the same precautions with an online auction as they would in person.
Bickford offers some tips: Pay attention to the invoice that you receive from the auction website to make sure you receive the correct contents, and not those from a different unit. Cross-reference photos to make certain the site has assigned the correct goods to the appropriate buyer or seller.
As long as you do these things, an online auction can work just as well as an in-person auction, Bickford says.
HOME AWAY FROM HOME – Sometimes people fall on hard times and can’t make their monthly rent payment. When that happens, you run the danger of being evicted from your home.
Many people faced this situation move into their self-storage unit as a temporary fix until permanent shelter can be found. Unfortunately, there are some jurisdictions that don’t look favorably on those arrangements.
When a Missouri storage facility owned has found self-storage squatters, he’s been referring them to a local homeless shelter or social-service agency.
GOING UP? – What’s the latest trend in the design of self-storage facilities? Build vertical, of course.
In East Tennessee, several new self-storage facilities are under construction that look more like office towers than the sprawling storage facilities of yore. A facility that’s three stories tall isn’t uncommon.
“By going vertical, developers are able to pay more for high-profile sites that have strong visibility, a key factor for success,” real estate broker Josh Flory wrote for USA Today Network.
Many of you are wondering, just how big is a 5X5 self-storage unit? Let’s show you …
You can fit 54,264 Apple iPhone X smartphones in a 5X5 self-storage unit (assuming the unit is 8 feet tall).
You could fit about 1,890 one-terabyte direct attach storage boxes would fit in a 5X5 unit (depending on which brand of storage box you’ve bought).
You can fit 5.64 million marbles in it.
A 5X5 unit would hold about 90 hoverboards.
You can fit 116,736 Starbucks gift cards in one.
It would hold about 7,220 Fingerlings Interactive Baby Monkeys.
You could fit 384 Roomba robotic vacuum cleaners in a 5X5 unit.
You can fit 80 Sony X800E 4K Ultra HD Smart TVs in it (seriously).
So, as you can see, you can fit a whole lot of just about anything in a 5X5 self-storage unit.
PACKED TO THE GILLS – Ever noticed during a recent run to your self-storage unit that the place always seems to be crowded? It seems like everyone’s got a storage unit.
Your observation is spot-on. Thanks to the resurgent U.S. economy, consumers have more buying power than they did just a few years ago during the recession. That means people are accumulating more things and they need somewhere to put their stuff.
Answer? Self-storage units.
“Self-storage is crazy growing,” said Brian Swan, manager of Coastal Mini Storage in Hampstead, N.C., recently told the Greater Wilmington Business Journal. “I pass three new facilities going up, just on my way to work every day.”
Swan’s facility, Coastal Mini Storage, gets an extra benefit from its location near the Atlantic Ocean. Swan has seen a huge rise in storage for boats.
ORANGE IS THE NEW PUBLIC – Public Storage, one of the biggest U.S. self-storage facility operates, has a spiffy new look.
Public Storage has spruced up the look and design of its new properties, while at the same time it’s given its signature orange logo a bit of a modern update. When new facilities open, they’ve got the sleek new look that Public Storage has designed for today.
“We decided what’s important, and eliminated what’s not, to maximize what matters to our customer,” said Karen Cormier-Southards, director of architecture and design at Public Storage.
The new design leans heavily on Public Storage’s trademark orange color scheme. Everything from rooflines to canopies are set in the Public Storage orange hue.
BIG BOYS MUSCLE IN ON MOM-AND-POP STORAGE FACILITIES –You’ve seen malls wither up and die, and you’ve seen big-box retail names like Toys “R” Us file for bankruptcy. It’s obviously a bad time to be in the retail business.
But there’s one segment of the commercial real estate industry that’s hot as fire—self-storage.
In fact, the sector is so attractive that the largest self-storage chains have been on a buying spree, buying up mom-and-pop self-storage facilities, according to Crain’s Detroit Business. CubeSmart, Life Storage, Extra Space Storage, National Storage Affiliates and Global Self Storage are some of the conglomerates that have gotten bigger through this strategy.
You’ve got a house or apartment full of chairs, sofas, bed and what-not but you’ve got to store it. You’ve secured a self-storage unit, so what do you do?
Throw it all the furniture into the unit, books piled on top of chairs slug next to boxes without any sort of plan? No, a thousand times no!
You have made an excellent decision to store your belongings in a well-secured self-storage unit. But that’s far from the end of your task. You need to develop a plan for how to store your items and organize them.
Otherwise, when you return to your self-storage unit in a few weeks to retrieve your possessions, you could find your treasured Scandinavian white-leather couch covered in mildew. (Especially if you opted for a unit in a facility that does not have climate-controlled units.) Or, maybe you won’t be able to find those Jimmy Choo pumps you swear you put in a box.
For starters, invest in some high-quality covers or bags for storing furniture. When it comes to covers, thick plastic may seem like the best solution. But some of your expensive living-room set pieces need to breathe. Instead of plastic, get some cotton covering, sheets or wraps.
Other types of sofas can be covered with plastic, however, especially if you cover the piece with enough openings to allow air to flow in and out.
Next, you need to buy some bubble wrap. This may seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised. Remember the example of the guy who threw all of his furniture into the storage unit as fast as he could without a plan of what should go where? Well, that’s the not the only way your stuff could get dinged, chipped or outright broken.
Bubble wrap can help protect pieces in places where you didn’t even realize they were bumping up against each other. When it comes to storage units, always remember that you can never have enough bubble wrap.
Let’s not forget the labels. Buy an electronic label-maker if you wish, but a few stacks of plain-white adhesive labels and a couple of Sharpie markers works just as well. Get a handle of what exactly you want to be in easy reach and what’s not as important, then get to labelling. Make sure you don’t accidentally stick a label on the front of your new LCD flat-screen TV. Joking aside, this should be a fairly common-sense task for labelling what you have put in what box. And maybe you need to remind yourself that when you lift up a certain bookcase, that a certain shelf tends to slip out of its slats.
You will thank yourself in a few months for the helpful labelling when you come back and can easily find the scarves or jewelry or important tax documents that you stuffed in a box.
See that’s not so hard. And the little bit of time you’ve put into organizing your storage and protecting your furniture with the appropriate wraps and coverings will save you hours of frustration later.