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Teri L. Lanza,
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Tony Jones,
Contributing Editor/Store Manager

Amy Campbell,
Editor

Misinformation About Self-Storage From Valet-Storage Company Makes Me Mad!

By Amy Campbell Comments
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By Amy Campbell  

Self-storage facilities are in scary neighborhoods, have long-term contracts and rate hikes, and jam-pack their customers’ stuff inside dirty, dusty storage units.

Wait … what?

This information about self-storage is on the website for Clutter, a new valet-storage company. If you’re not familiar with how valet-storage services work, think of it as a scaled-down version of mobile storage. Rather than deliver a giant steel box in which customers fill, valet-storage companies offer bins or cardboard boxes similar to the ones you sell in your store. Prices vary among the companies, but all pick up and deliver the bins or boxes to customers looking for a “valet-type” of service. You can read more about valet-storage on the ISS topics page for “Valet Storage” or in this article, which offers insight on the new industry and addresses whether the service will create competition for brick-and-mortar self-storage facilities.

“Inside Self-Storage” has been reporting on this budding service for a while now. For the most part, the valet-storage companies have been respectful in how they compare themselves to traditional storage. Looking to service a niche market, they capitalize on the “convenience” factor of valet storage, rather than disparage traditional self-storage.

So when I came across this information, I was irked. I get the company needs a way to stand out from traditional self-storage, but to offer up this kind of misinformation is just wrong. Let’s debunk this info point by point!

Let’s start with the easiest one—long-term contracts and rate hikes. Self-storage is a one-month rental. ‘Nuff said. As for rate hikes, this is a business. Name one place where consumers don’t experience an increase in costs for services and products. Movies, food, clothes, cars, houses, vacations, credit card interest rates—you’ll see an uptick at some point for just about any product you buy or service you use. An ISS poll conducted last November reports more than 60 percent of self-storage operators increase rates only once a year. Another 14 percent said increases are quarterly, and 7 percent said they never raise rates. Also, rental increases are usually pretty minimal. We’re talking $3 to $5 per month. If operators jacked up their prices every month, they’d see a lot more turnover. For a true look at how rental rates are calculated, read this article. Next!

Self-storage facilities are in “scary” neighborhoods. Um ... Have you driven down any major streets in your town lately? Storage is everywhere, my friend. There’s a Public Storage half a mile from my house, and three more well-known chains within two miles of my home.

While it’s true storage facilities were relegated to industrial areas when they first came on the scene—decades ago—that has changed greatly. Classy facilities can be found near upscale residential neighborhoods, schools, shopping malls and other retail establishments. It’s considered by most a “retail service” these days. Yes, some of those first-generation facilities still exist, but the vast majority of properties built in the last two decades are not hidden away. They’re on Main Street and proud of it. Just take a look at the ISS 2014 Design Image Gallery for further proof on how amazing and beautiful a self-storage facility can be.

The notion that units are jam-packed isn’t even relevant. Tenants pack their own units. If it’s a towering mess, that doesn’t have any bearing on the self-storage facility or the operator.

Finally, self-storage facilities have dirty, dusty storage units. Really? Have you seen one lately? Operators take pride in their facilities. While it’s true they often have customers leave behind trash, dirt and even items, operators must ready the unit for the next customer. Who’s going to rent a dirty unit? That’s just a crazy notion.

The members of Self-Storage Talk (SST), the industry’s largest online community, are a bit outraged about these claims, and rightly so. Chewmama said, “Totally offended by this.” Read what other members have to say and add your own thoughts in this thread.

I truly hope this archaic perception of the self-storage industry is limited to the uninformed. This is a billion-dollar industry. Get your facts straight before you criticize us. I wholeheartedly agree there’s a place for all kinds of storage—traditional, mobile, valet, whatever. But one entity doesn’t need to step on the other to get a lift. Instead, stop the mudslinging and focus on what you bring to the table.

Share your thoughts on this issue by posting a comment below or this SST thread.

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