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How Do You Like Them Apples?



   Recently, I took pleasure in a great autumn pastime: picking apples with the family. Along the way we talked about the abundant varieties, from Red Delicious to McIntosh, Granny Smith to Jonagold. In all, the orchard we visited harvested at least a dozen varieties. Some more tart, crisp and tangy; others sweet and juicy. All are wonderful.

            As we crunched and gnawed on our way home, meandering along the twisty, hilly roads, a local self-storage caught my eye. This relatively small, white facility was tucked neatly off the main drag, and if you took a breath or sneezed, you wouldnt even see it. A small sign identified the business. I dont remember specifically, but I know it was something like Apple Orchard Storage or Red Apple Storage. Whatever, the name was quaint and fitting.

            Nevertheless, I immediately went into a marketing mode, especially because we are working on our annual issue of Inside Self-Storage magazine. Too bad they dont have a big splashy sign to catch everyones eye, I thought. And it looks like they dont really place too much emphasis on security. Theres no access control. There isnt even a fence. Surely there arent individual door alarms or cameras and CCTVall the essentials that big-city storage sites rely on for security and marketing purposes.

            I was reminded of my summers drive cross country. Wed stopped overnight in a teensy Nebraska town with one miniscule hotel. Walking the dogs the next morning, I wandered through farmland and found a self-storage nestled between a dirt road and a chicken coop/horse pen. My initial thought here was, Who could ever find this place? I didnt ponder it much, though, because my 140-pound pup broke away from my hold and started chasing sheep on a nearby pasture.

            With a big bag full of applesof all kindssitting next to me, I was reminded that variety is the spice of life. What works for some, isnt right for others. A big city might need a flashy sign, shiny roll-up doors and enough techie security to make heads spin, but out in the rolling hills, mountainsides and nations breadbasket, self-storage is in its roots. Its a simple business for laidback folk.

            They may not advertise on the Internet or send out direct-mail pieces or create complicated marketing plans. They may not need to. They already know everyone in town and everybody knows them. They cross paths at the post office, the grocery store and the bank. When a resident takes ill, they stop by with a hot meal. And when a local businessperson needs to store extra furniture while relocating, or a landscaper needs a garage to park mowers and wood chippers during the winter, they know where to go.

            Lest it be mistaken, Im not badmouthing big operators with glistening self-storages in every city, coast to coast. I respect great-big businesses as well. Ive patronized them, and Ive stored at small-town sites as well.

Ive lived in cities and seaside towns, mountain villages and desert neighborhoods. Thanks to the growth in our industry, most have self-storage facilities. Some are humongous; others midsized; many are small and charming. One thing is for sure: All are wonderful.


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