The self-storage facility business is ironically a thriving industry in an economy that is still trying to recover from recession aftershock. The industry advocacy group Self-Storage Association reports that self-storage is among the fastest growing real estate enterprises worldwide. In the U.S. alone, there are over 2.3 billion square feet devoted to personal storage – more than enough space for all Americans to actually stand all at the same time under the roof of the total self-storage space. Here are some more interesting things to know about self-storage.
How did it all begin?
The first publicly documented self-storage compartments hail back to ancient China where underground pits were used to store and preserve food. In the Middle Ages, the British offered “crating” services for noblemen and dignitaries who were away from home for long periods of time. The crates were kept in guarded stables and were sold by bankers. But the prototype of the modern self-storage units only emerged in the mid-20th century in the U.S. with rows of pre-fabricated metal garage units rented out to individuals who needed extra storage space. Since then, self-storage has evolved where today there are reportedly over 50,000 facilities in the U.S. owned and operated by more than 25,000 entrepreneurs.
What are the most common reasons why people use self-storage facilities?
The number one reason given by most people who rent out a self-storage unit is lack of storage at home. A great majority of those who avail of self-storage units are actually homeowners where one in 10 U.S. households is said to rent a self-storage unit. This may sound strange at first, but if you take into account the astronomical growth in consumption and retail sales then the industry boom is relatively easier to appreciate.
Other reasons include moving to a new home or renovating the home, keeping commercial inventory (popular among eBay sellers and other small businesses which cannot afford big warehouse spaces) and storing valuable property and documents.
What do people keep in self-storage facilities?
The most common things that people put into storage include:
1. Furniture: couches, dining tables, beds
2. Appliances: stoves, refrigerators, washers, cooling and heating units
3. Electronics: TV, old computers, audio equipment
4. Collector’s items and other valuable possessions: antique furniture, rare and expensive artwork, jewelry, collectible objects such as old coins and booklets of stamps
5. Important documents and memorabilia. Family photographs, land titles, marriage certificates, writers’ manuscripts and many more
What are some of the strangest uses of a self-storage facility?
While self-storage facilities have become almost a necessity for pack rats in today’s consumerist society, there are also those who use it for some rather unusual (and unsavory) purposes. There have been reports of homeless individuals who have made the units their own dwelling until they were caught; a meth lab; a hideout for escaped criminals and an office by unlicensed medical practitioners. People also store some of the strangest items in their self-storage units – from illegal fireworks and weaponry, dead bodies to stolen space equipment from NASA.