“Art too is just a way of living, and however one lives, one can, without knowing, prepare for it; in everything real one is closer to it, more its neighbor, than in the unreal half-artistic professions, which, while they pretend to be close to art, in practice deny and attack the existence of all art…”
~ Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet, Paris, December 26, 1908
Is ours one of those “unreal half-artistic professions” that do violence to the world of creative aspiration? That depends on your perspective, I suppose. And the theme, and style, and the medium you choose.
Self-storage is about serious things like interest rates and cap rates and due diligence and demographics. It is also about fairly mundane things like metal buildings, roll-up doors, access gates and rental agreements. But when all is said and done, a facility's success isn't about any of those things at all. It's about service. And the more diverse your palette of offerings, the more market share you're likely to capture—with all its chiaroscuro and color. This issue examines a few hues on the spectrum:
- Boat and RV storage
- Wine storage
- Records storage
- Post and parcel services
- Retail products
The better you master your technique, the closer you are to ancillary artistry—or rather, the skill of sculpting revenue out of raw potential. The market is your canvas and service your brush. What kind of future do you wish to paint for your business?
Keep in mind, most artists can't work in all media; and not all storage operators meet success with every amenity. Whether you offer specialized storage, business services or a wide array of retail product, thoroughly research your commission pool before beginning. Is there a need for the talent you propose? Will patrons be receptive? Have others decked the halls of possibility before you, or will your ancillary be completely original?
Here’s another pose to ponder: Some techniques can be learned later in a facility’s life, while others must be incorporated from the start. It’s relatively simple to expand a retail area, add postal services or convert traditional self-storage to space for records; whereas more complex offerings such as wine and boat/RV storage require finesse. With wine, a delicate balance must be achieved between temperature, humidity, security and service. The business of big toys involves detail to construction and legal issues.
You don’t have to be Michelangelo to make more money. Simply ask yourself: Does the concept of greater profit inspire me? If you are so moved, first examine your subject. Determine its strengths, weaknesses and fine points. Then, if the light is right, begin— perhaps slowly at first, with just an outline, a sketch. As you gain confidence, make bold strokes from your palette, keeping taste and suitability at the forefront of vision. In time, your ancillary endeavor may turn out to be a masterpiece after all.
Best wishes to storage artists everywhere,
Teri L. Lanza