THE recent debut of Hollywood Storage Center, in Newbury Park, Calif., marks a pioneering effort in an industry catching on to the concept of tenant-centric service. The $6.4 million center is an expansion of the formerly named Thousand Oaks Self Storage, opened 20 years ago by Spoony Singh-Sundher, the founder of the Hollywood Wax Museum and Guinness World of Records Museum.
With more than 150,000 square feet of storage space, the Hollywood-themed facility--still owned and operated by the same family--is now the Conejo Valley's largest storage center and will take that credit for all of Ventura County when phase two is completed in 2003. But more significant than the sheer space available is its approach to the storage needs of customers.
"Right now, it's considered forward-thinking in this industry to add complementary businesses such as carwashes, laundrymats, coffeehouses or can-redemption centers," says Greg Call of StorageWorks, an industry expert and consultant who has worked with more than 600 storage facilities over the last 21 years. "Hollywood Storage is blowing the lid off that. From the size and variety of its storage rooms to the specialized offerings and amenities, this center tunes in to customers like no other place in the industry."
Among the innovations at Hollywood Storage Center is a 2,500-square-foot lobby where customers are greeted seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sales associates offer free popcorn and usher patrons through model storage rooms and Penske truck-rental options while a giant plasma screen runs classic movies in the background. The same space houses a "Studio Store," offering packing and shipping supplies and gift items; a conference/wine-tasting room, with access to a gourmet kitchen for catering; upscale vending machines; and business conveniences such as personal mailboxes and courier, shipping, copying, faxing and notary services.
"This is, by far, the largest office/retail space at any storage facility," says Call. "Most places have no more than 400 to 500 square feet, and it's unheard of to offer comfortable meeting rooms and services such as labor to help move belongings into storage." The center is also offering the widest variety of specialized storage in the industry, including wine storage, records management and climate-controlled rooms. Plus, Hollywood Storage has developed a brand new consumer category called The Vault.
"We've coined this phrase for our high-security, climate- controlled, safety-deposit spaces for consumers who need to store pricey art, antique collections or other valuables," says Jay Sundher, one of Spoony's sons and the facility's general manager. The Vault requires positive thumb-print identification for access and deactivation of the individual alarms in each room. Once inside, two keys are needed to open the door--one from the customer and the other from a bonded Hollywood Storage associate.
"Whether it's a wine cabinet or other type of storage, we thought through everything that would make this center practical and enjoyable for our customers to use," he relays. "We have more large storage rooms than any other place, and we built everything with 10-foot ceilings and extra-wide doors to make it easier for loading and unloading. We also included wide, shallow units for people who need to readily see their materials, and we offer shelving to help with organization. We can even include electricity and carpeting inside a storage room if a customer needs it."
Of course, paramount to the needs of all storage customers is safety and security, and Hollywood Storage breaks the mold here, too. "The way we see it, peace of mind should be built into the operating procedures," says Sundher. "Even the really good storage centers tend to just focus on things like coded access gates, video surveillance and individually-alarmed units. We do all of those things, and we also screen our tenants by taking fingerprints, picture ID and references."
Call confirms less than 21 percent of the storage facilities on the West Coast use photo ID as a measure of security, and less than 4 percent do finger-printing. "The majority of self-storage owners are mid-sized private companies or even smaller operations that may not think about taking a different approach. But when it comes to the Sundher family, who took a novel concept and built the Hollywood Wax Museum into the most visited attraction on Hollywood Boulevard, customers can expect nothing less than extraordinary."
Hollywood Storage Center is located at 3425 Old Conejo Road in Newbury Park, Calif. For more information, call 805.499.2700.