During college, I spent a semester living in the walled medieval city of Siena, Italy, a sleepy, traditional town just an hour-long train ride from Florence. From our fifth-floor palazzo apartment, nestled on Via San Martino, my flatmates and I would look out over the rolling hillsides and terracotta rooftops, which were radiant with sun. Mornings would find us buying fresh-baked bread in the panateria just doorways from our own. Afternoons meant basking in the Piazza del Campo (the town center) with friends. And in the evenings, our tables were spread with fresh-rolled gnocchi, olive oil and wine.
Ah, the wine.
At the time, I wasn't perhaps sophisticated enough to appreciate a fine Amarone. Nor did I realize Siena is the home of the Enoteca Italiana, the only national institution dedicated to showcasing the fine wines of Italy. The wine cellars of the Enoteca are found within the subterranean chambers of the Fortezza Medicea, an imposing fortress built in 1561 at the orders of Cosimo I dei Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany. Today, in the Enoteca's lounge area, visitors enjoy samplings from the country's best vineyards.
While a storage facility is no 16th-century citadel, there are operators reaping the benefits of wine storage and its accompanying camaraderie. Facilities in areas with a wine market are obviously the best candidates, though other locales can be successful with the right clientele and marketing strategy. This niche can be rewarding for storage operators not only because of the per-square-foot return, but because the upscale image associated with wine distinguishes a facility from others. On page 28, read about the benefits and challenges of this specialized business, and the marketing advantages it can produce. For some, it's a venture ripe for picking.
Another specialty embraced by this industry is the storage of boats, RVs and other vehicles. In this issue, you'll find several articles addressing the possibilities for this ancillary service, as well as cautions to observe. Read tips on incorporating vehicle storage into an existing facility as well as advice on amending lease agreements to accommodate this faction of renters. You'll also find information on dry-stack boat storage--lately becoming a popular option--and construction and land requirements for carport storage.
Making more money is good, but making a name for your facility is stellar. Niche services allow for otherwise elusive marketing and profit-building opportunities. If wine storage is for you, consider hosting wine tastings at your facility to drum up exposure. Like the Enoteca, provide a lounge area for wine tenants to relax and share their wares. If you store vehicles, consider the addition of some perks, such as car-washing or maintenance services. Like a fine wine, self-storage is only getting better with age.
Teri L. Lanza