Self-Storage Expands Its Horizons: Customers Reap the Benefits of Enterprising Facility Uses

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By Rachel Adams

An increasingly popular trend in self-storage is pushing the industry beyond traditional uses into the realm of "man caves," small-business operations and even a bike depot. Facilities are no longer used solely to hide away dusty boxes and high school yearbooks. Many are now offering alternative uses that provide tenants with more life solutions including affordable office space, extra personal space and, in one particular case, a place to store bikes and  connect with the local riding community.

A Bicycle Business Built for ... Many!

Frisco Trail Mini Storage and Bike Depot in Springfield, Mo., reaches local bike riders by providing a unique service. Tenants storing a bike at the facility have unlimited access to their bike storage as well as a work station where they can maintain and prep bikes for use.

More than an additional revenue source, the Depot is what owner Bart Williams calls a "goodwill thing." It was designed specifically to be a resource for all bikers on the Frisco Highline Bike Trail, a 34-mile track that runs alongside the property. The business offers many amenities for public use including a free public restroom and shower facility and adequate parking. It's also equipped with free air and some vending machines.

"It was all a part of our way of giving back to the community, and also running a business that has a demand," says Williams, who owns and operates the facility alongside co-owner and wife Rita Williams. The idea originated with Rita, who was weary of hauling her bike to and from the trail.

While the Bike Depot itself isn't a money-making machine, it creates a lot of visibility for Frisco Trail Mini Storage. The Williams like to participate in local events and host biking events. The community involvement has helped generate rentals for the self-storage side of the operation. "We want to create as much visibility as possible for the mini-storage," Williams says.

Being involved with the community draws rentals from all across town, not just from drive-bys and locals, Williams adds. "We're drawing people that aren't just from a 5-mile radius. They're even going out of their way to come to us."

The bike-storage area at Frisco Trail Mini Storage and Bike Depot in Springfield, Mo.

The Man Cave

While the Bike Depot is catering to the local biking community, other facilities are accommodating to the "man cave" trend. Some operators welcome this self-storage game-changer, while others shy away due to fear of liability and legal complications.

At Guardian Self Storage in Foxboro, Mass., the man cave is welcome. Diehard Patriots fans have taken over four climate-controlled units in the facility, which have morphed into a decked-out tailgating and game-day spot. "The Cave," as these Patriots fans call it, is equipped with widescreen TVs, grills, heaters, furniture and even a golf cart used as a shuttle to and from the restrooms.

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