• Moving a Piano – Doing It Right

    Moving a Piano

    In order to retain the quality of your piano, you must take exceptional care of the instrument. Keeping the piano tuned and cleaned are just a few aspects of the care needed to ensure quality sound and performance. Like most other instruments, the piano is made from select materials which require proper care.

    There are other aspects of owning a piano that must be taken into consideration as well, such as moving. Moving your piano is not a job to be taken lightly. In fact, moving pianos can prove to be complicated and detailed. Incorrect moving can lead to injuries to the movers, damage to the instrument or damage to walls and floors.

    Whether you are moving from one room to the next, from one apartment to the other or from town to town, there are certain precautions that must be taken. Knowing the proper steps and hazards to avoid is important for a successful move. Those who have experience in moving pianos can offer vital tips to make, what can be, a difficult move much simpler. These tips vary according to the type of piano, location, obstacles and abilities. With that being said, a great deal of preparation and thought goes into moving pianos successfully.

    Before the Move

    Moving pianos may seem simple. It is obviously a common occurrence. But meeting the main objective of moving the instrument safely, without injury or damage, requires proper planning. Before the move, make a list of all factors included in the move – navigation in and out of both locations, weight, transport and weather conditions. Deciding whether you want to hire a professional, with years of experience or do the job on your own requires an assessment of your personal resources and the challenges involved in the move. Will you hire a professional or will you do the job yourself? This has to be a personal decision made by you, the owner of the instrument.

    Asking the opinions of others who have tackled the challenge can help you make a wise decision. The experiences of others can reveal all the downfalls and mistakes which may be made during the move, some of which, you may not have thought of yourself.

    Professional Movers

    Choosing a professional should be a no-brainer. They have experience in this area and can even be termed an expert at moving pianos. Believe it or not, it doesn’t take many professionals to move a piano either. When movers are completely aware of the how a piano is put together and what the challengers are in moving one, it takes less manpower to make the move. The numbers then depend on the style and size of piano in question. A major concern when hiring professional movers is the knowledge and experience of the actual individuals performing the task. Don’t just ask if the ‘company’ has experience moving pianos, ask whether the specific individuals being assigned to your move have piano moving experience and how much. There is a drastic difference between ordinary movers and piano moving experts. You will want to make sure you hire the right people.

    Professional piano movers know they need more than basic information and should demonstrate that by asking you to provide those important details. For instance, movers need to know the to and fro of the move, this entails exact locations and obstacles related to entrance to the building and interior placement of the piano. If stairs or steps are involved, the movers will need to know if the steps are straight or spiral and how many steps are involved. Different angles mean different moving strategies which can determine a successful move rather quickly.

    Jason Martin of Braymore Piano Movers gives this statistic, “Over 60% of people don’t have a clue how many steps are in front of their home and a surprising amount of people don’t think this is an important thing for the piano mover to know.”

    Piano MoversTypes of Pianos

    Movers will also need to know if you have a grand piano or upright piano. While Upright pianos need more room height-wise, Grand pianos are longer and need to be accommodated for length. It makes all the difference, since size and weight can be related to the size of openings and the equipment and manpower required. Size is a major factor, with most pianos weighing anywhere from 300 pounds, as with small uprights, and Grands up to 1,000 pounds. These variations in size and weight can require completely different moving tactics.

    Uprights

    As far as Upright pianos are concerned, there are many versions. There are Spinets, which are the smallest specimens. These pianos are in the 300 pound weight range and stand approximately 3 feet tall and 4 feet long. Console pianos are a bit taller but do not weigh as much as a Spinet. Studio pianos are next in line, weighing around 400 pounds and stand just a bit taller than a Console piano. The Classic Upright piano, being the largest upright version, usually weighs around 500 pounds. Make sure to include the exact specifics as to the type of upright, its measurements and weight to your piano movers.

    Grand Pianos

    The first type of Grand piano is the Horizontal Grand Piano. This piano has a unique shape and will have to be given special attention. In most cases, this instrument will have to be disassembled. True piano moving professionals will be prepared for this scenario if they have been properly informed ahead of time. Even the smallest Grand piano, such as the Horizontal Grand, will take at least four expert movers.

    Baby Grand pianos have to be handled in much the same way, with legs and pedals removed before transition. These pianos are usually 500 pounds in weight and around 5 feet in length. Parlour Grands are only a little bigger and can usually be moved with the same number of people. Larger versions, such as Ballroom Grands and Concert Grands take more movers and detailed precautions. Ballroom Grands take up to five movers while Concert Grands can take up to a dozen people to make the move. The utmost caution must be taken as these larger versions comes with large price tags, as well, usually $50,000 or more.

    In many cases, pianos have to be disassembled before the move. Grand pianos can easily be taken apart while upright versions, generally have few removal parts. Professional piano movers will know how to disassemble the instrument in order to get around staircases or other immobile structures of the home.

    If you are purchasing a new piano, be sure to ask the instrument to vendor about the delivery policy they have for their pianos. Do they provide delivery of new purchases and will the delivery costs be included in the price of the piano or are those additional charges you must pay? If you must hire or provide your own piano movers, will the business owners provide any assistance in moving the piano out of the showroom or warehouse? While some business owners are more than happy to lend their help in moving the instruments from the shop, others believe that moving is an additional job and ask for compensation for their help. Expert movers also sometimes have stipulations. Some movers only relocate pianos while some are more than happy to move purchased instruments to their new home. The more information you provide the better. This keeps things moving smoothly.

    Pianos are prized possessions, owned by musicians, celebrities and collectors. True professional piano movers will have strong reputations for moving instruments for celebrities, piano companies and other distinguished clients. They build their reputation by carefully considering all the factors of the move. Well known individuals such as the musician and artist, Prince, Stephen Harper and the Prime Minister of Canada, have employed the services of professional piano movers. They wouldn’t trust their valued instruments to someone who wasn’t highly experienced.

    “Moving a piano is hard! Hiring movers with sound experience will mitigate any concerns with going about it alone,” says Joe Devost, Operations Field Manager with You Move Me.

    So appropriately, these movers have experience beyond most traditional movers. If you have questions about certain situations, types of pianos or moving areas, these piano moving experts are more than happy to answer your concerns. This is the basic difference between a professional job and a “do it yourself” situation.

    Moving a PianoDIY Piano Moving

    Although there are many pros about professional movers, you may find it more affordable to stick with your own manpower. While using movers to complete the task is preferred, you can do this on your own with a few instructions and the proper equipment.

    Planning ahead is just as important or maybe even more important, when you are coordinating the move yourself. In order to have a successful move, there are several things that must be done beforehand.

    One little known, yet important detail of moving a piano, is knowing how many people will be needed for help. Since this is a “do it yourself” move, you should be prepared to use more people than the professionals might use. Considering the size and weight of the instrument, there will need to be people on all sides of the piano to provide ample support. You will also need to make yourself familiar with the type of piano you will be moving. Size and weight make all the difference in how you move your piano and how to avoid damage to the instrument, the movers and the property.

    Javier Odom of Walt’s Jewelers, has made many moves that involved moving their piano as well. He offers this advice from his experience:

    “I verified that every single person moving the piano could lift a portion of the piano by themselves prior to movement. This was to weed out the weak and unreliable. Then we would move the piano like a bunch of ants carrying the queen herself.”

    Check Surroundings and Maneuverability

    The first thing to do when getting ready to move your piano is to observe your surroundings. Will you be able to move the piano with little maneuvering? Will anything get in the way of the movers? There are many questions to ask and observations to take in, making sure the instrument has no direct contact with other structures or objects that have any negative effect on the move. Just like professional movers, you will need to understand the angles of the stairwells, sizes of doorways and what degree of corners you will navigate in the building. Make sure to have the proper tools, such as tape measures to compare the size of the piano with the size of the moving space, especially the doorway. Make sure to measure height, depth and width to be certain. The last thing you want is for the piano or the door frame to endure scratches or other damage. In some cases, door facings have to be removed to ensure smooth transition from room to room.

    Tie Down

    Next, you will want to make sure the instrument is tied down properly. Just as home structures will have to be prepared, so will the body of the piano. Closing the lid and using the lock, if you have one, will ensure the ivories are protected during the move. After the lid is closed, you may want to wrap the instrument in padding, if the whole ensemble will still fit through the doorway. The best padding could be old quilts or moving blankets secured with tape. Both these options work. Again, measurements, after wrapping, will ensure you have the needed room to maneuver through tight spaces.

    Moving Equipment

    When you are ready to actually move the piano, you may need a dolly. Especially if you are lacking in the number of movers. A mover’s dolly is required to move the immense weight of the piano in these instances. Without this equipment, you may experience pulled muscles or injuries to your movers and damage to flooring due to the weight of the instrument. When you load the piano and start to move, make sure you take it slow. Move with short strides allowing a good visual of what is directly behind and around you.

    After the Move

    Not only do you have to be concerned about the move, you also have to take into account the after care of the move. So many people do not understand the maintenance required after moving a piano. Weather conditions and the shifting of positions can cause a piano to become out of tune. As humidity increases, the sound board swells causing a higher pitch because of stretched strings. If conditions are dryer than usual, the soundboard flattens out, loosening the strings and dropping the pitch. During the move, you can experience one or both of these conditions.

    These conditions will have to be adjusted before you can enjoy playing the instrument again. If your piano is of great quality and has been tuned every four months or so, you will want to wait a few weeks after the move to tune the instrument again. If your piano is an older version, you can go ahead and get the instrument tuned right away.

    Moving pianos will never be an easy job, but you can avoid frustration by doing the proper preparation and research beforehand. Music lovers around the world will agree that making the successful move is well worth the trouble in order to enjoy the widely appreciated music of the piano.

    Before the move, make sure you weigh your options. Are you ready? Do you have the right equipment? Maybe it’s time to call a professional. Whatever you decide, make sure to discuss your options, do your research and take your time. After all, the most important aspect of the move will be the planning. You now know the keys to a successful move. The reward will be music to your ears.

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  • How Much To Tip Movers So They Don’t Break Your Stuff

    7 September 2015 by
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    How much to tip movers is always a sensitive subject: too little and you risk them “accidentally” dropping the porcelain doll collection that you inherited from your Aunt Midge, too much and you risk them not smashing that creepy porcelain doll collection.  (more…)

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  • Fun Self Storage Statistics For Every Occasion

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    Unless you are legally or morally obligated to write a report on the self-storage industry, you’ve probably never stopped to think about all the interesting facts and figures there are on this subject. And why would you when there are more important things to ponder—like why the Venti size at Starbucks is 24 ounces when “venti” means twenty.

    It may surprise you to learn that the story of storage spans 6,000 years, includes tales of exotic, faraway lands, and features an edge-of-your-seat resistance to economic recessions. Sounds kinda like a James Cameron movie, doesn’t it? Minus the aliens, ocean liners, and cyborgs, of course.

    Check out this list of fun self storage statistics (and commit them to memory—there will be a pop quiz at the end):  (more…)

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  • Did You Hire a Moving Company or Moving Brokers?

    Moving Brokers

    Moving company or moving brokers? Most people don’t understand the difference or know that there is a difference. All that you are looking for is someone whom you can trust to help you move your belongs safely from one location to the next for a reasonable price.

    With the online business community now being flooded with new moving brokers, it behooves the public to understand what a broker does and how it differs from the traditional moving company. (more…)

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  • FAQ: 10 Myths About Self Storage

    16 September 2014 by

     

     

    Photo Credit: luvi via Compfight cc

    Photo Credit: luvi via Compfight cc

    The Loch Ness Monster…plucking your eyebrows makes them grow in thicker…’irregardless’ is a real word…unicorns fart rainbows…. Many myths have been circulating for years, and most of us believe them—or at least some of them. And let’s face it, who hasn’t secretly wished that Mr. Smith in Nigeria really did need to deposit $50 million into your bank account for safe keeping?

    Myths about storage facilities are no exception. So let’s flush some of these folk tales about self storage right down the toilet for good (like that lady who got sucked down the airplane toilet).

    Aren’t self-storage units really expensive?

    Well, that all depends on what you’re storing. Some storage facilities charge as little as $5-$15 a month for small, plain, closet-like spaces. And maybe that’s all you require if you just need to stash your Quidditch broom and ball for the winter. If you have a lot of stuff to store while you’re away on a cozy island resort just off the coast of San Francisco, you’ll pay more for a larger space. And if you have to stow certain items like your midlife crisis-friendly Porsche Boxster convertible, your Aunt Elizabeth’s art and jewelry inheritance (would be nice if that were Queen Elizabeth, but no, it’s just Aunt E from Austin), wine or other valuable items, you’ll want to pay more for extras like climate control and additional security. Many self storage facilities offer all kinds of discounts, so shop around until you find a good deal.

    My friends say self storage facilities aren’t secure—what’s your take?

    Crime happens everywhere—cars, homes, purses, hospitals, manholes, Waffle Houses…everywhere. But MiniCo Insurance Agency LLC—an insurance agency specializing in insuring goods in storage facilities—recently conducted a study published in the Self-Storage Almanac that showed security at self storage facilities is making significant improvements in the right direction. In 2010, the reported break-in/theft rate was 18.2%, but by 2012, the rate had fallen to 7%.

    But don’t take the manager’s word for it when he says he’ll “keep yer crap safe.” Before you rent, always investigate the surveillance cameras, alarm systems, gates, locking mechanisms, and – perhaps most importantly – reviews from other customers.

    Aren’t all self storage units dirty?

    Only when they’re storing topsoil. Put it this way: self storage facilities want your business, so they’re going to make sure that their units are swept and cleaned out. In fact, it’s in the contract of the vast majority of self storage facilities that renters have to thoroughly clean out their unit upon vacating it—and if it’s not spotless, they will send you to your room without dinner. Or charge you a fee. (Check the fine print. It’s definitely either a fee or the dinner thing.) But you will never know for sure unless you take a look for yourself and see if it meets your cleanliness standards. Nevertheless, storing your possessions in secure boxes is always a good idea.

    But do I really need a storage unit? Maybe if I just declutter more effectively…?

    That’s a good one! So how long have you been saying you were going to clean out the spare room/garage/kitchen/basement/? Exactly. Sometimes you just need more storage space no matter how well you organize because you never know when your mother-in-law will show up on your doorstep. Too bad self storage facilities don’t allow you to store people in them….

    Can I get away without insuring my stuff in storage?

    Sure, if you’re a gambler whose addiction is so strong you can’t even fathom the dire consequences of your behavior and don’t mind being homeless and penniless. But that’s just us. The vast majority of storage facilities do not insure anything stored on the premises unless you purchase supplemental insurance, and we suggest that you do. Because even if you made sure that you didn’t store any fireworks in your unit, the guy renting the one next to yours might not have been quite so thoughtful. And then…KABOOM!

    While many storage facilities do offer supplemental insurance that you can purchase on top of the rent, do not buy this until you first check with your own homeowners’ insurance agent. Your agent may be able to add this into your existing policy—quite possibly for a much lower price than what the local storage facility wants to charge you.

    Must I really read the small print on the contract with the self storage facility?

    Yes. Unless it’s A-OK with you when the storage facility raises your rent after the first month because the owner needs a new set of porcelain veneers, you’d better make sure you know exactly what your contract states before you sign it.

    So… do you think I can squeeze my car into self storage?

    Hey, if the storage unit fits, why not? Just keep in mind two things. One, you’ll need to rent a specific vehicle storage unit because facility managers aren’t usually too obliging when you’re trying to drive your souped up Civic up the stairs into a regular storage unit. And two, there may be rules and preparations you need to make before you put your ride in storage, such as topping up all the fluids to prevent rusting. Check with dmv.org and your facility manager for details.

    I’ve heard that you can’t negotiate the price with a lot of self storage facilities—rumor or reality?

    To quote that classic Timex Social Club song: “Stop, stop, stop spreading those rumors around.” The reality is that most self storage facilities offer a multitude of deals, such as military discounts, discounts for long-term storage, first month free deals, refer a friend discounts, etc. Let potential storage facility managers know that you’re shopping around for the best deal, and they will woo you like a college boy looking for love. And if they don’t offer any deals, ask. The worst that could happen is that they say no. The best that could happen is that you win a free trip to Hawaii with a team of supermodels. Though I probably wouldn’t get your hopes up for the Hawaii-supermodel thing.

    Are there really self storage units that go for $1.00 a month?

    Absolutely. And we have some prime beachfront property in Kansas you may be interested in, too. Those $1.00 deals are often saddled (remember the  fine print…always read the fine print) with hidden fees, insurance riders, locks, sudden rental increases, etc.

    So, I can just slap any old lock on my storage unit, right?

    Only if you’re not emotionally attached to anything in it. Most regular padlocks are as easy for a thief to figure out as the  password: “password.” Your best bet is a disc locks especially made for storage units.

    Now that we’ve debunked all those myths about self storage units, we’re off to Scotland to find ol’ Nessie….

    Sources:

    http://www.dmv.org/how-to-guides/storage.php

    http://www.pinterest.com/search/pins/?q=decluttering%20ideas&term_meta[]=decluttering|typed&term_meta[]=ideas|typed&remove_refine=packing+for+storage|typed

    http://www.homedepot.com/b/Storage-Organization-Storage-Bins-Cubes-Totes/N-5yc1vZc89j

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4nXIRXlT_20

    http://www.minico.com/

    http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/around-the-watercooler/201110/urban-legends-strange-funny-horrible-moral

    http://urbanlegends.about.com/od/humor/tp/top_10_funniest_urban_legends.htm

    http://blog.sparefoot.com/3621-self-storage-theft/

     

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  • FAQ: What Happens If My Storage Unit Is Destroyed?

    Photo Credit: Deathexit12 via Compfight cc

    Photo Credit: Deathexit12 via Compfight cc

    Weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth come to mind. If you have dental implants, then maybe a little stomping, screaming and tearing your hair out instead. No hair? Dash a stack of plates on the floor. Whatever method you choose, don’t hold back your frustration; experts agree that expressing your emotions helps you heal faster. Of course, they don’t say anything about expressing these feelings with someone else’s wedding china….

    Once the initial waves of shock and anger have passed, take a few deep breaths, come up with a payment plan for your friend’s china, and read this FAQ about what happens if your storage unit is destroyed.

    Is there a time machine I can use to save my stuff from that self storage facility?

    No. It was one unit over from yours. Next question.

    My fireworks collection blew up. Can I get reimbursed?

    There were several things you could have done to make sure that your prized possessions were stored safely. Number one: don’t be a moron. And number two: don’t store live fireworks in your storage unit. Stashing flammable items in a storage unit is strictly forbidden. So not only will you not get reimbursed, but the facility owner will likely make you reimburse them for damages.

    My unit was flooded and everything was destroyed. What should I have done to protect it?

    It’s too bad your stuff got damaged by the water, but the firemen had to put the fireworks-incited fire out somehow. Often the damage has nothing to do with what or how you packed your storage unit and everything to do with a natural disaster you couldn’t have prevented or the sheer idiocy of the guy renting the unit next to yours.To ensure the safety of your belongings next time, you should pack things in water-tight bins and stack them on shelves or at least on pallets to keep them off the floor. Keep in mind, however, that there isn’t much you can do about wildfires, earthquakes, mudslides, tornadoes, the wrath of God, or your neighbor’s unscrupulously-stored dynamite. Except one thing: have your stuff insured. Which leads us to…

    How could I have prevented this disaster with my storage unit?

    To paraphrase an age-old saying: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of insurance compensation. The best way to handle any kind of damage to the contents of your storage unit is prevention. Before you sign a rental agreement, personally check their security and surveillance measures. Find out if there’s a history of flooding in that area, or whether it’s in a high-crime neighborhood. Verify references.

    And according to Jay MacDonald of Bankrate.com, check with your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance agent about coverage for your stuff in storage. Some self storage facilities will be happy to add insurance coverage to your contract—for a fee, of course. But many storage facilities do not offer this and those that do usually provide only limited coverage. Be sure to read the fine print because not all policies will cover every disaster. So you’re on your own with the marriage to Phil Spector.

    Someone broke into my storage unit, trashed it and stole stuff. What should I do first?

    The first thing you should do is call the police. Then take pictures. No, not selfies of you doing your “spontaneous” surprised look. Pictures of the damage. Ensuring that everything in the storage unit was organized, photographed, and itemized makes determining what was taken so much easier. Let the storage facility manager know that a break-in occurred, and review their surveillance camera tapes, if they are available. If not, no, filming a reenactment won’t suffice. What is this, America’s Most Wanted? If your stuff was insured (and why wouldn’t it be, if you’ve been reading our informative yet entertaining blog posts?), you’ll need to call your insurance company to make a claim. Again, most insurance policies purchased through the storage facility itself are extremely limited in what they will cover, so your complete collection of Hello Kitty paraphernalia may not be protected.

    What’s usually covered in a storage facility’s insurance policy?

    Their asses. Seriously, what’s covered under a storage facility’s policy can vary as wildly as Lindsay Lohan’s sobriety. Some storage places cover damages–but only those that occur to the storage building itself, not to your personal belongings (huh?). Other facilities cover theft, fire, and water damage–and flood damage, but as a separate policy. Goods that are generally not covered are: money, jewelry, furs, vehicles, and debt/bills, so there goes your brilliant plan to become solvent. The bottom line is that you are responsible for insuring the items that you store in a self-storage unit.

    My stuff got soaked! What on earth is the difference between water damage and flood damage?

    Holy confounding insurance policies, Batman! It’s true, when it comes to insuring your stuff, how it got wet matters a great deal because “water damage” and “flood damage” are considered two different things. According to property management firm Sentry Management, flood damage is when normally dry property has been submerged by an overflowing river, stream, heavy rain, or other type of naturally-occurring rising water situation. Crying fits do not qualify as a naturally-occurring rising water situation. Water damage is when your water heater explodes, frozen pipes burst, rainstorm causes leaks, etc. Crying fits may qualify here. Either way, it behooves you to get all the details from your insurance agent.

    Is there any chance of reimbursement on the stuff I lost?

    We can’t stress this enough, so take notes: prevention and preparation are the key to lessening the sting of seeing the ashen remains of your wedding dress. Besides the fact that this may be an omen that you shouldn’t go for that fifth marriage, remember: always get insurance for your storage unit belongings. Otherwise, your only hope is to marry into wealth, seek a divorce, and refurnish your place with your alimony money.

    As they say, hindsight is 20/20. If disaster hasn’t struck yet, do your homework on the security of potential storage facilities, pack smartly, take pictures, and get insurance. If you’re reading this after the disaster, all we can say is: it’s too bad about the time machine.

    Sources:

    [1] http://www.bankrate.com/finance/insurance/insurance-stuff-placed-in-storage.aspx

    [2] http://www.extraspace.com/storage-tips/insuring-your-stored-items.aspx

    [3] http://www.sentrymgt.com/newsletters/flood-vs-water-damage-what-type-coverage-do-you-have

    [4] http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/emotional-fitness/201311/dont-bury-your-feelings

    [5] http://www.tenantone.com/self_storage_coverage.html

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  • The Earliest Self Storage Facility

    9 September 2014 by
    Photo Credit: ancama_99(toni) via Compfight cc

    Photo Credit: ancama_99(toni) via Compfight cc

    Prehistoric man had no need for self-storage, as everything he brought into his cave was either eaten or worn. In fact, their under-furnished caves gave rise to first home improvement project known as cave painting. It wasn’t until the rise of the Roman Empire that people began to feel a bit cramped. All those statues needed to be dusted regularly, and if you didn’t like your in-laws, you got a nasty shock every time you walked into the bath and saw your father-in-law lurking in the shadows. Scrolls of papyrus covered the tabletops, wine barrels took up valuable floor space, and soiled tunics were carelessly strewn about.

    “I don’t care what you do with that stuff. I just want it out of here!”

    With those immortal words, an industry was born.

    The Storage Needs of a Growing Empire

    Everywhere you looked, affluent Romans were busy remodeling, building aqueducts and baths, sporting arenas and sewers, tenements and villas. Walk around the Forum on any given day and you could hear people complaining about how hard it was to find a good contractor to install your pool: “All we wanted was a slave who could design an atrium without screaming every time we whipped him.” [1]

    Finding a place to put your business-casual togas and stash of designer Corinthian columns was important while this work was going on. When you sold your second daughter into slavery, you had to find a place to put her papyrus diary scrolls and mosaics of her favorite popular musical ensembles so you could convert her bedroom into a steam room. And you definitely wanted a place to stash the jewelry you bought for those cuties at the bath house. [2]

    In the heyday of the Empire, chariots were constantly bringing back junk that no one wanted from the territories–scarabs and papyrus rolls, poorly-wrought columns pilfered from some island north of Gaul, crude funeral pyres, ugly statues of birds and dogs. They wound up putting it in storage because “you never know when that might come in handy.”

    And of course, while you were between military campaigns, there was a critical need for the self-storage of weaponry and torture devices that would otherwise be a nuisance in the home. Not every Roman had a villa, after all. You try living in a starter tenement with a bunch of crucifixes in the corner of the living room. Enhanced interrogation does not fold easily. Self storage units increasingly were the answer.

    But between the soldiers being called away to battle, typical youthful pranks, and the generally shoddy construction of low-end buildings in the ancient city, self storage units were beset by numerous challenges. Fire was definitely a risk (ever carried an oil lamp after you’ve downed an entire urn of wine?) and theft was also a problem.

    The Romans certainly could have used security cameras, not to mention climate control. People were dumping their crap in the streets, literally, and furniture stored in those ground floor units didn’t come out smelling so good.

    The World’s Largest Self-Storage Facility

    It wasn’t just the ordinary citizens of Rome who needed to find a solution for all their clutter. The Roman Empire as a whole was feeling the strain. A conquering people collect all sorts of riff raff: Christians, Greeks, Visigoths, Phoenicians, Maccabees, Egyptians, and too many tribes of Celts to keep track of. Suppressing, pretending to negotiate with, and enslaving so many different cultures is a headache. [3]

    It took a couple centuries of trial and error, but finally the ancient Romans found a way to contain their growing hoards of loot (disruptive colonists, prisoners of war, slaves that couldn’t be trusted, rowdy women, lions, etc.). The Romans kept them out of everybody’s hair by storing them in a grand storage facility, that we moderns mistakenly know as the Colosseum of Rome, and local residents came out periodically to watch the lucky “contestants” battle to the death. Trust the Romans to find this inventive solution to decluttering.[4]

    Locked up in storage facilities located throughout the Empire, forgotten by their families and entire civilizations, gladiators waited with trembling legs for the moment when they would emerge from hidden chambers below the amphitheatre floor to do battle. Though they never knew if they would be ripped to shreds by wild animals, burnt on a pyre, or run through by a trident, it sure as heck beat living in a crowded bachelor tenement with five other guys who just couldn’t remember to pick up their sandals. [5] On the whole, though, being a gladiator was a pretty short career. And the pension was terrible.

    A Word of Advice

    Roman civilization, as everyone knows, is a cautionary tale. While citizens were punishing slaves for not being able to find a mosaic that matched the color of a peacock feather, and emperors found ever-more entertaining ways to dispose of infidels, the Germanic people were kicking back in front of the fire and waiting for the perfect moment to strike.

    The moral of the story is this: self-storage is a tremendous resource with many uses, but beware of making your storage unit the repository for the things you don’t know what else to do with. Those renegade possessions will come back to haunt you, like the story of Aurelius Fulvius who finally opened his self-storage unit years later and found himself face-to-face with the not-so-dead-as-it-turned-out lion he’d done battle with and kept as a souvenir.

    Know your stuff, and know your storage needs. That’s the proper way to keep your empire running smoothly.

    Sources

    [1] http://www.pbs.org/empires/romans/empire/slaves_freemen.html

    [2] http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-399017/The-steamy-truth-Roman-Bath.html

    [3] http://www.worldology.com/Europe/roman_dominance.htm

    [4] http://www.pinterest.com/michaelorr96/latin-project-colosseum/

    [5] http://www.ancient.eu/gladiator/

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  • 5 Little-Known Facts About Storage

    2 September 2014 by
    Photo Credit: Dances With Light via Compfight cc

    Photo Credit: Dances With Light via Compfight cc

    Have you ever been driving down the street, passed a self storage facility, and thought to yourself, “Hm, I wonder what little-known facts there are about storage?” Didn’t think so. But now that we’ve piqued your interest, aren’t you even the teeniest bit curious? Do you know how far back storage facilities date? Or the most common demographics of people who rent self storage units? Grab your mug o’ tea, cozy up in your favorite armchair, and get ready to learn five little-known facts about storage.

    When were the first self-storage units created? [1]

    The concept of self storage came about 6,000 years ago in what is now Xi’an, China. People would place their belongings—to-do lists etched in turtle shell, bamboo reed flip-flops, collectible spearheads, and family heirloom jewelry made of jade and teeth—in clay pots and store them in underground pits. Guards monitored these storage areas to ensure no one removed another person’s pot or its contents.

    It is widely believed that it was a man named Xiang Lau who opened the first storage facility when he realized his mud hut was overflowing with the prized bones of his enemies. He wanted to keep them in his man cave to gloat to all his friends, but his wife made him remove them after she kept tripping over them. Thus the idea for an off-site self storage facility was born. Apparently Lau was the first to offer deals, too, such as a free ox rental when renting a storage unit.

    Okay, maybe the story of Lau is undocumented. But odds are a shortage of living space and a bickering couple led to the birth of ancient self storage.

    When did modern self storage facilities emerge?

    Modern self storage involves a tenant renting a space that no one else has access to. This concept was unheard of until Lauderdale Storage opened in Fort Lauderdale, Florida in 1958. It set a new precedent that remains the norm to this day. [2]

    The industry continued to grow in the 1960s with the first self storage facility in Odessa, Texas called “A-1 U-Store-It U-Lock-It U-Carry the Key.” Despite the wordy, forgettable name, the business was a fast success. It was built in an industrial area where fishermen could store their boats and oil field equipment for quick access—which is why they were 100 feet by 30 feet, the right dimensions for storing bass boat trailers. [1]

    Residential customers caught wind of the cool idea (not to mention the stink of fish) and joined the queue to store their possessions, paving the way for the first hoarders. By 1972, the first Public Storage facility opened in El Cajon, California, and self storage boomed into a more large-scale industry. Which leads us to… [1]

    Which country stores the most stuff? [3]

    Americans are the biggest hoarders. Nearly 9 percent of all American households (that’s 10.85 million people) currently rent a self storage unit. This number has grown from 6 percent in 1995.

    In total, Americans store 2.3 billion square feet of stuff, which is more than 78 square miles–three times the size of Manhattan. That’s an average of 7.3 square feet of self storage space for every person in the United States. And yet, clearly that’s not enough space for many people, as seven seasons of the A&E reality show Hoarders illustrates.

    Consider that there are about 48,500 “primary” self storage facilities in the US (“primary” meaning the facility is the main source of business revenue for the owner) and another 4,000 “secondary” units. Compare this to the relatively puny 3,000 storage units in Canada and just over 1,000 in Australia and it’s clear: Americans like storing stuff.

    Who seeks out self storage? [3]

    About 27 percent of self storage renters live in apartments or condos while 68 percent live in single-family homes. Which shows that expanding your family can lead to serious accumulation addictions. (Where’s the FDA ruling on that one?) And though 65 percent of storage space renters have a garage, 47 percent have an attic, and 33 percent have a basement, they still need extra storage space. I guess when it’s a choice between your comic books or your mother-in-law….

    Sixty-three percent of self storage renters have an annual household income of less than $75,000 per year, making it clear that you don’t have to be rich to afford a storage unit. Either that or Americans just love deals. And 6 percent of all units are rented to military personnel.

    Thirteen percent of all self storage renters end up renting for less than three months, 18 percent rent for three to six months, and another 18 percent rent for seven months to a year. Which indicates that almost half rent for reasons of transition, such as moving, repainting the house, or a short stint in jail (you gotta stash your loot somewhere until you make bail, right?). The greatest number of renters, though – nearly 30 percent – keep their self storage unit for more than two years. Like a vacation home for their crap.

    How big is the self storage industry? [3]

    In 2013, self storage in the US generated more than $24 billion which, at a local and state tax rate of $3.25 billion each year, is pretty good incentive to encourage people to buy more than they need. The industry has been the fastest growing segment in commercial real estate since about 1975 and is even considered recession resistant because of its continued success through the recession of 2008.

    You might be able to rattle off five of the industry’s biggest players–Public Storage, CubeSmart, Sovran Self Storage, Extra Space Storage, and U-Haul–but there are also 4,500 mid- to large-sized firms that run multiple facilities.

    The average size of a primary self storage facility is 46,500 square feet. There are enough of these storage facilities that every American household could rent 21 square feet of storage space. In short, the self storage industry is huge and isn’t going anywhere any time soon.

    Now aren’t you glad you took the time to learn a few facts about the storage industry? Next time you’re at a party and need a handy conversation starter, fire off a few of these babies and watch your popularity grow. And if that doesn’t work, you know where you can store your wounded ego—in one of 52,500 storage units around the country.

    Sources:

    1) History of Self Storage, http://ww2.txssa.org/Publications/Mayjune1.htm

    2) History of the Self Storage Industry, http://www.flexispace.com/history-of-the-self-storage-industry

    3) Self Storage Association, http://www.selfstorage.org/ssa/content/navigationmenu/aboutssa/factsheet/

    4) Self Storage History, http://performanceselfstoragegroup.com/self-storage-history/

     

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  • Deals To Look For When Choosing A Storage Unit

    26 August 2014 by
    Photo Credit: Alan Cleaver via Compfight cc

    Photo Credit: Alan Cleaver via Compfight cc

    You’ve just read a great article on decluttering your home and have decided to put your entire warehouse-sized wardrobe you’ve kept since the ‘80s into storage. Those Laura Ashley dresses, Jordache jeans, tie-dyed t-shirts, parachute pants, and leg warmers are no longer outdated; they’re vintage and may be worth something someday. But until you make your fortune on this so-called retro clothing, you’ll need to look for a great deal on storage units to house your collection.

    Consider some of these popular deals that may be available on an ongoing or periodic basis:

    First Month Free – This is the most common storage unit special. Many storage rental facilities will offer the first month free–though they usually require you to stay for at least three months–to entice customers with the idea that if you’re impressed by the service you’ll keep renting. So just in case neon-colored spandex jumpsuits never become trendy again, you can rest assured that you’re getting a good deal on storage. (more…)

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  • FAQ: What can NOT be stored?

    31 July 2014 by
    FAQ
    dead body with toe tag: can't store it

    Photo Credit: Jackaroid via Compfight cc

    It may surprise you to know all the unusual things that potential storage facility renters attempt to load into their unit. Or it won’t surprise you. What do I know? Regardless, just because you turn out the light, close the door, and place a lock on it doesn’t mean that you can do whatever you want in it. There are still rules in place to protect you, the owner, and the other renters. (more…)

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