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Don't Burn the Popcorn

Amy Campbell

March 20, 2008

2 Min Read
Don't Burn the Popcorn

We have a section on our Self-Storage Talk forum titled "Tales From the Trenches," where facility managers and operators can share stories about wacky things they've witnessed at their sites. So far, we've heard from managers whose units have been used by tenants for romantic trysts, cross-dressing and gynecology. No lie. It's incredible what some of you folks are privy to during the course of your day-to-day business.

I don't generally like to steer this blog in the direction of sensationalist material, but it's no secret that while self-storage assists the populace during times of life transition, it sometimes acts as the closet in which dirty secrets are kept. At least on the forum, the stories of these skeletons are being told by storage professionals to their collegues, and not by mainstream media outlets pandering to a gossip-hungry American public. (If I read one more story about a body found in a barrel, box, bag or other receptacle at a storage facility in Anytown, USA, I just may lose my lunch.)

But every now and then, I'll see a news story that tickles me, and this week one did catch my eye. As we make plans for the Inside Self-Storage Expo in Nashville (Oct. 7-10), I've been looking for news regarding self-storage in Tennessee, just to see what the pressing industry issues might be in that area. A couple of days ago, the Asheville-Citizen Times ran a piece about legendary moonshiner Marvin "Popcorn" Sutton, who just this week lost two storage units full of 'shine and liquor fixins to confication by the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission.


Marvin "Popcorn" Sutton with country-Western singer Willie Nelson.

It appears good ole Popcorn had stored three 1,000-gallon whiskey stills, more than 850 gallons of moonshine, hundreds of gallons of mash and other ingredients at a storage facility near his Parrotsville, Tenn., home. Now he's lost his hoard of home-cooked brew and is being held in prison for possession of non-tax liquor until his March 28 hearing. How did the authorities know about the booze? A tip-off to the local sheriff from a "reliable, credible and concerned" citizen. Rat!

Did the storage manager know? Was the storage manager the rat? Who knows. I say leave the 61-year-old man and his spirits be. To me, his stash of mash ain't no skeleton in a closet; it's just a good time lingering behind a roll-up door.

About the Author(s)

Amy Campbell

Editor, Inside Self Storage

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