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

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The man-cave bug doesn't stop with Guardian. Even Williams has had tenants interested in creating their own personal sanctuary within a unit. Frisco Trail Mini Storage is expanding with a building originally designed for boat storage. These new units will be equipped with power that can be turned on or off by the facility owner, depending on whether the tenant opts to pay for it. The availability of electricity has attracted tenants seeking storage man caves, where they may soon be available.

While Williams is not opposed offering these units, he says he will carefully screen tenants before granting permission to modify the space. Units rented with the intention of becoming a man cave will need lighting, added at the customer's expense, and it can only be installed by a licensed electrician approved by Williams. He’s optimistic about man caves, and plans to include this feature in the company advertising once the new building is complete.

The New Work Space

Man caves aren't the only way tenants are getting creative with self-storage units. Some are revamping them to use as a work space or office.

StorSecure Self-Storage in Kapolei, Hawaii, offers "StOffices" (storage offices) to tenants interested in running a small business out of a storage unit. Each StOffice is equipped with electricity and lighting. The facility has offered this option for more than two years, and there are approximately 15 occupied spaces at present, according to general manager Kimo Gamiao.

A difficult economy created demand for more affordable office space, Gamiao says. "The economy has been very tough on Hawaii small businesses. A lot of small businesses started shutting down due to lack of work and because of overhead. They found that an alternative was to get out of the commercial-space rental, and we were quite affordable and much more reasonable," he says.

Converting the facility to be an office-friendly environment took cooperation and planning. Gamiao worked with his business tenants to figure out how the facility needed to change and allow small businesses to thrive. These tenants also needed to acclimatize to operate effectively within a storage facility. "They needed to adapt [to us] just as much as we needed to adapt to them, being that they're not in a commercial area," Gamiao says.

StorSecure is a gated facility, so tenants must have a code to access units. Even business customers are not permitted to give access to non-tenants. If a business tenant needs to meet with a client, StorSecure rents out the conference room in the facility office at an hourly rate.

"Not all businesses are a fit for operating out of a storage space," Gamiao says. "It functions really well as a work space. People are working in offices or out of their homes, their bedrooms and garage, and they just wanted to get out of the home because of the distraction. It worked well for them."

StorSecure's business tenants include a lawyer, carpenters, an architect and an artist. Retail business, however, does not work well at this location due to accessibility issues.

Gamiao created a new lease agreement for business tenants to avoid legal complications. It customers to have business insurance, provide proof of insurance, list the facility as additionally insured, and have commercial general liability and workers’ compensation for any small businesses with additional employees.

Overall, the business tenants at StorSecure have created a friendly community. Gamiao says they’ve developed an "ohana," or a sense of family, among tenants and staff. "They seem to like us just as much as we like them. I have an incredible staff, and it's just a really nice little community within a community that we have here."

As everyday problems develop in the lives of everyday people, self-storage continues to provide solutions. As a result, many facilities have achieved success, adapting and working with tenants to provide new and interesting ways to use self-storage.

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