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Amy Campbell

Amy Campbell
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acampbell@vpico.com

New York Times Article: Self-Storage as a Cultural Litmus Test

Teri L. Lanza Comments
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On Wednesday, The New York Times published an in-depth editorial titled "The Self-Storage Self," examining our industry from a historical, cultural, psychological and even philosophical perspective. Written by Jon Mooallem, it's a well-rounded piece including interviews with several big names in the business including the Self Storage Association, Derek Naylor, Tom Litton, Ronald Havner Jr. and Jim Chiswell.

What makes it good, though—and I do think it's good—are the stories it shares about our tenants. "The truth is, there is no typical storage customer," Mooallem writes after poking into the lives (and units) of a few renters, peering at the emotional/mental mechanisms that drive their storage choices. Why they had stored, how they felt about it, the delicate pros/cons balancing act many are doing in their minds to justify spending on storage ... or finally giving up the ghost and moving out. In short, it's the tale of how America fell in love with self-storage and how, now, with the economy sagging perilously like a wet cardboard box, people are asking themselves if storage is "The One" or a co-dependency gone sour.

There's even a mention of Inside Self-Storage, though the reference was really to Self-Storage Talk, our online forum that resides at a separate Web address. Mooallem quotes one of our forum members (he's also a moderator) as he waxes weary over a new discount program launched at his facility this year. (To read the referenced thread: I feel dirty... ) Mooallen refers to the industry as being "so unstoppable that even having to engage in basic Marketing 101 stuff, like lowering prices, has struck some operators as a comedown." Though we all know that price-chopping is not marketing—101 or any other level—and can be lethal in this business.

The article is not perfectly free of ignorance and bias, but it contains well-worded writing with just the right hint of sentiment. I encourage you to give it a read and join the online discussion: SST in a NY Times Mag Article!!!

Enjoy a wonderful holiday weekend.

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