Self-storage is not really one of those industries you dream of working in from childhood. In fact, I'd be willing to bet that a lot of present-day storage professionals have no idea how they ended up here. I certainly don't.
I thought I'd end up as an English professor, or a book-publishing mogul, orplease, oh, please!a successful novelist. Sure, "hot-shot magazine editor" was certainly among positions I was more than happy to entertain. But I don't know if this qualifies as "hot shot"; and I think I envisioned a publication with more allure.
Sometimes life just takes us down one of those wholly unanticipated and delightfully surprising paths. You take what you can from each experience, and hope you can apply it to more clearly embraceable aims down the line. So here I am with a background and education in English Lit and journalism, and a bizarre, mixed-bag collection of knowledge from the storage industry: real estate, finance, marketing, sales, etc.
But because of my roots, I love to encourage others with similar proclivities. Now, I will beg your assistance on behalf of a woman who contacted me via e-mail today.
Kelle is working on a "creative, nonfiction" master's thesis in which she would like to expound personal stories of storage customers and operators. Of course, she's looking for more sensational material, such as tales of "collectors of bizarre items or people who have lived in or worked out of storage units." She also mentions stories involving crime, death and auctions. Kelle is approaching an April deadline and has nearly exhausted her current resources, so she would greatly appreciate any suggestions or anecdotes my readers would be willing to share.
Now, for the record, I am happy to do what I can to assist, because I remember what it was like writing my master's thesis, how difficult it can sometimes be to scrounge up material and find reputable sources. The writer in me is also sympathetic to her goals. But I have to ask:
Kelle, why self-storage? And why focus only on the melodramatic? After all, it's the media that has propagated such lurid news about our industry (maybe that should be the topic of your thesis!). What about stories of charitable acts and deeds committed by storage companies and business owners? What about the compassion and sensitivity demonstrated by storage operators as they assist tenants through their often life-changing events, such as a divorce, move, death in the family, etc.?
I was going to ask this via e-mail, but I thought it would be much more interesting to allow readers in on this discussion via the blog. I also thought it might stimulate more responses that could point Kelle in a viable direction for subject matter.
So, storage community, what do you say?