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Valet Self-Storage Startup Boombox Launches Initiative to Fight Homelessness in San Francisco Bay Area

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Boombox Inc., a startup specializing in valet self-storage services in the San Francisco Bay Area, has launched a “Storing Hope” initiative designed to raise money for homeless shelters in the region. Customers who move their belongings from a traditional self-storage facility to Boombox can designate their first month of rent to go to the homeless shelter of their choosing, according to the company website.

The company’s fundraising goal is to collect $100,000 in donations by the end of next year. Customers who don’t specify a shelter when beginning service will have their rent sent to the San Francisco homeless shelter operated by the St. Anthony Foundation.

Boombox founder Calvin Hemington views valet storage as a better alternative to self-storage in part because the company uses commercial warehouse space to store customer belongings rather than real estate that could potentially be used for affordable housing. San Francisco’s homeless population is estimated at 7,500, with 3,146 living in shelters, according to a January census. City officials conduct a count every two years.

“We thought we could free up premium real estate in the city for better uses, such as homeless shelters or low-income housing,” Hemington told the source. “And at the same time, we could offer a better service for those who currently use self-storage.” A statement on the company website indicates Hemington’s ultimate goal is to “convert current self-storage facilities into low-income housing or homeless shelters.”

While most valet-storage operators have concentrated on by-the-bin storage and delivery services, Boombox launched in February with a storage-space model based on the size of its transport vans. The company estimates the space inside the van is about equal to a 50-square-foot self-storage unit. Customers who fill the van with boxes and oversized individual items pay $115 per month, according to the website. The monthly rental fee is $75 if a customer fills only half the van. Boombox requires a minimum three-month stay. Customers must request a two-person pickup team for stored items that weigh up to 100 pounds. Initial pickup service is normally free, but the two-person service costs $35.

Customer belongings are stored in a secure warehouse in Tracy, Calif., about 60 miles east of San Francisco. Customers aren’t allowed to visit the facility. Boombox staff members code and photograph items that will be stored. Renters can then manage their belongings online and schedule items for return delivery for a flat fee of $20 per van load. The company requests deliveries be scheduled 48 hours in advance. Pickups to return delivered items back to the warehouse are assessed a flat fee of $25, according to the website.

The Boombox service area includes 15 cities within the Bay Area, stretching from Berkeley to south of San Jose. “We see ourselves as a hassle-free alternative to self-storage,” Hemington told the source. “Our model makes the most sense for people who see storage as an extension of their garage or closet.”

The company launched with private funds and isn’t seeking venture capital, according to the source. It joins a growing list of valet-storage operators in the Bay Area, including Brute Storage, Closetbox, Clutter, Omni and Trove Technologies Inc.

Sources:

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