Owned by a family with 124 years of business operation under its belt, Grand Central Self Storage LLC has achieved a milestone with the construction of Michigan’s first wine-storage facility. The Wine Cellar of Michigan in Ferndale, just north of Detroit, is the state’s only licensed self-storage opportunity for wine enthusiasts, including collectors, investors, merchants and restaurateurs.
The specially designed repository offers individual wine-storage units at economical rates. This frees clients from concerns of space, environment and security often associated with having to construct their own dedicated home or business storage for their collections of wine.
Grand Central Self Storage and the Wine Cellar of Michigan are part of Leonard Bros. Cos., a group of fifth-generation, privately held enterprises, all family owned and operated. In 1880, Samuel A. Leonard founded Leonard Bros. Moving & Storage in Detroit. Now the company’s business activities include selfstorage, wine storage, data/records management, storage and retrieval, electronic records imaging and real estate.
“Self-storage for wine enthusiasts is a new concept previously unavailable in Michigan,” says David W. Leonard, the facility’s managing partner. He saw profitable wine storage while visiting facilities in Florida and North Carolina. “After researching the market and applicable governmental regulations, we committed our existing self-storage organization to introducing this service to our state.”
The facility is in a community of upscale condominiums that have little or no room for storage. Leonard spoke with wine merchants and restaurant owners in the area, who told him there was a significant increase in acquisition of quality wines by customers but no facility available for owners to store their collections. With his entrepreneurial spirit, Leonard set out to correct the deficit.
It took nine months to get the appropriate permits from the stringent Michigan Liquor Control Commission to open the 1,000-square-foot custom space in a clear span, climate-controlled, insulated vault. Double-insulated walls and two temperature-control units maintain the interior ambience at 55 degrees and 75 percent humidity with no natural light. Although the vault is windowless, motion-activated fluorescent lighting provides clear illumination for patrons. Backup-generator systems ensure these conditions are maintained even during emergency power interruptions.
Individual units are available for lease for terms as short as six months at rates as low as $12 per month, or about $1.50 a case. There are 43 separate, secure lockers ranging in capacity from eight to 54 cases. Horizontal case or rack storage may be readily accommodated. Space is set aside for bulk storage of large wine quantities often acquired by businesses.
Wine storage addresses a need in various market segments —for example, baby boomers, who are expected to drive continued growth in American wine appreciation and consumption. Wine acquisition is also driven by special circumstances, such as the historic quality anticipated in the 2003 vintage. This should generate increased buying and storage activity among wine connoisseurs.
“Educating the public about wine storage is our biggest challenge,” Leonard says. Although he saw facilities in Florida and California with 100 percent occupancy and waiting lists for vacancies, Michigan residents are unfamiliar with the concept. The company is getting the message out through a marketing campaign using press releases, newspaper exposure and seminars at wine auctions and other wine-related functions.
“Our mission is to provide oenophiles a safe, secure and attractive facility that is useful and desirable for storing fine wines in exceptional conditions,” Leonard says. For more information, call 248.542.5600, or visit www.grandcentral.biz.