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Amy Campbell,

Big Key Self Storage: Making Lemonade Out of Lemons

By Amy Campbell Comments

By Juan Chabriel

Sometimes life gives us lemons. In the self-storage world, our lemons come in forms of “donations” left by tenants. Including but not limited to trash, unwanted furniture and documents. In the case of most items, Florida law allows for the self-storage facility to charge a disposal fee, but what happens when the left-behinds are sensitive documents?

At our facility, Big Key Self Storage in Miami, finding a way to dispose of such documents became a learning experience. There aren’t many resources available in terms of what to do in such a situation, and countless calls brought us back to square one.

Finally, after following and completing all the proper procedures, the solution became obvious. We had no choice but to shred our new-found burden—medical records and paper found in a 10-by-25 unit. But how could we justify the cost, especially when there was no party available to charge?

After a delinquent tenant left behind boxes of sensitive documents, Big Key Self Storage in Miami decided to hold a shredding event and invite the public.“Bingo,” we said. Let’s make lemonade out of lemons and hold a free shred day for not only ourselves, but for all of our tenants as well. We could create an opportunity for our loyal Big Key family and business clients to safely dispose of outdated sensitive documents for free! 

We heavily marketed the July 14 paper-shredding event, offering it as a free service. Plenty of people showed up to “get their shred on!” As a plus, we also provided music, free food and refreshments. Customers gathered and said their goodbyes to those pesky files and paperwork that were taking up valuable space in their offices, homes and storage units.

After hours of heavy loading and shredding, we were pressed for time and competing with the Miami heat, but were almost finished. Having survived and created smiles on the faces of happy customers, we sat and enjoyed a cold drink and good old-fashioned air conditioning.

What began as a tricky situation evolved into a great time and free workout. And, of course, a clean, newly available 10-by-25 self-storage unit. All in all, a great time was had and a valuable lesson learned: When life gives you lemons, make an all-out lemonade event!

Juan Chabriel is the assistant manager at Big Key Self Storage. Opened in 2008, the facility serves customers in Miami, providing climate-controlled units, truck rental, tenant insurance and moving supplies. For more information, visit


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