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ISS Blog

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

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.

SpareFoot Presents at Capital Factory Inaugural Demo Day

SpareFoot, a new online marketplace for self-storage facilities, will present at Capital Factory’s inaugural Demo Day in Austin, Texas, Sept. 9. Capital Factory, an early-stage technology incubator, hosts a 10-week summer program for startup companies, providing them with up to $20,000 in cash, more than $20,000 in free services, and mentorship by a group of successful entrepreneurs. The program culminates in a demo day where the startups present to investors, the press and the world.

The demo event will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the AT&T Conference Center on the University of Texas campus. Tickets are $30, which includes parking and lunch. The day’s programs will also be available via live video feed at Capitalfactory.com.

During the event, five startup companies, including SpareFoot, will present their business concept, fostering discussion and peer interaction with attending technology investors, executives, press and entrepreneurs. The other presenting companies are Cubit Planning, Famigo, HourVille and PetsMD.com.

Demo Day will kick-off with a keynote presentation by Mike Maples, managing partner of Maples Investments. A venture-capital panel titled “What’s It Take Today to Build a Super Startup?” will follow the company presentations and a feedback Q&A.

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Amazing Spaces Joins TSSA in Raising Funds for Shriners Hospital

For the second year running, Amazing Spaces Storage Centers of Houston has joined with the Texas Self Storage Association (TSSA) to raise funds for the Shriners Hospital for Children in Galveston. The statewide “Make a Difference” campaign encourages area residents to support the financial needs of the hospital, which suffered significant damage during Hurricane Ike in 2008 and is in the process of rebuilding. Additionally, donations are needed for the hospital’s endowment fund, which ensures every child receives the care he or she needs, regardless of economic standing.

The TSSA has supported the work of the hospital for the past seven years. In 2008, donations raised by the organization reached $197,000, and the association hopes to raise even more this year. Donations to the campaign will be accepted at all three Amazing Spaces facilities until Oct. 8: Houston, Spring and The Woodlands, Texas.

All proceeds go directly to the hospital. The campaign will conclude with the TSSA annual convention in The Woodlands, Oct. 25-28, with a Texas Hold ’Em Charity Poker Tournament and silent auction. For more information, visit www.txssa.org.

Amazing Spaces facilities offer self-storage, RV/boat storage, wine storage and more. The company also offers franchise opportunities to qualified applicants.

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CT Man Charged With Theft of $15k in Goods From Self-Storage

A Plainville, Conn., man has been arrested on charges relating to the theft of more than $15,000 worth in goods from a self-storage facility. Charles Soto, 36, was charged with first-degree larceny, 131 counts of third-degree burglary and 131 counts of third-degree criminal mischief. He turned himself in on August 21 after learning of a warrant for his arrest. He was held on a $250,000 bond.
 
In November, police received a call indicating that locks had been cut on 131 units at a Public Storage facility. A large opening had been cut in the fence and a truck driven through. Afterward, tenants reported 142 missing items including power tools, TVs, shotguns and others.
 
In April, police got a break in the case when one of the victims got a call about one of his stolen items, which had his name on the service-repair tag. Police traced the item to the man who sold it on craigslist. Upon getting a warrant and searching Soto’s property, they found a multitude of items, many of which were later identified by storage tenants.

When questioned, Soto implicated his brother, Richard Soto, and a friend, Ted Bishop, saying they asked him to help them move heavy items with this truck and paid him $500 to do so. Charles has a record including larceny and drug offenses.
 
Police are charging all three men in connection with the case. Richard is in custody on unrelated charges and will be charged. Bishop’s whereabouts are unknown.
 
Source: The Bristol Press, Plainville man charged in theft from storage 'gold mine'

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U.K.'s Safestore Reports Third-Quarter 2009 Operating Results

Safestore Holdings plc, a self-storage retailer in the United Kingdom and Paris, reported its third-quarter trading for the period ending July 31.

Key metrics, including revenue, occupancy and average rental rates, showed strong performance over the same period in 2008.  

  • Revenue increased by 1.7 percent
  • Occupancy growth was 110,554 square feet compared to a loss of 29,344 square feet for the same period last year
  • Average rental rate increased by 5.3 percent to £25.08
  • Closing occupancy was 2,826,239 square feet

The company also reported an increase in inquiries and fewer move-outs, particularly in July.  

Safestore opened four new stores this year, including two during the third quarter. The company plans to open one more store this year, and expand six more in the next two years.

Safestore Holdings is the United Kingdom’s largest self-storage group with 94 stores throughout the United Kingdom, including 42 within the M25. In addition, it is the largest operator in central Paris with 22 stores. For the full report, visit www.safestore.com/images/20090901-142554.pdf 

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ISS Blog

Lowering Rental Rates to Attract New Tenants

Businesses across the country are doing everything they can to stay afloat during this long recession. Many have endured layoffs, cut back on supplies, shortened business hours, put off remodeling or equipment upgrades—and the list goes on.

In the self-storage industry, one cost-cutting measure often talked about is lowering rental rates. The idea is to entice new renters by lowering rates by $10 or $15 per unit. But how do you handle a rate drop? What will you tell existing customers?

There’s an interesting discussion on the Self-Storage Talk forum right now on this hot topic. Forum member northsound wrote a rate drop is in the works to draw first-time customers to a newly opened facility, but has concerns about existing customers.

Jobesteph offered an interesting analogy: It is kind of like going to Wal-Mart and purchasing a DVD Player only to find it a week later with a little Smiley Face Mark Down. Does Wal-Mart automatically give you the price difference back??

While forum poster Autodoc writes he’s not a fan of lowering rates, when it’s a must, self-storage operators should make it a “limited” offer. Others also chimed in with solid advice.

To offer your two-cents, post a comment below or join the discussion.

Roundtable Program Finalized for Inside Self-Storage World Expo in D.C.

The Roundtable Discussion program for the Inside Self-Storage World Expo in Washington, D.C., Oct. 5-8, has been finalized, focusing on 20 hot topics within the self-storage industry. On Tuesday, Oct. 6, experts from all aspects of the self-storage field will assemble at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center to meet with show attendees in an intimate setting that allows them to answer questions and converse in a meaningful way. Topics to be addressed include:  

  • Using the Internet to Reach More Customers ... The Cost Effective Way
  • Traditional vs. New-Wave Marketing: Promoting Self-Storage Today
  • Common Mistakes in Self-Storage Development (and How to Avoid Them)
  • Self-Storage Collections: Getting Tenants to Pay You in Tight Times
  • How Much Is Your Facility Worth? Insight to Self-Storage Valuation
  • Self-Storage Financing: New Construction Loans
  • Self-Service in Self-Storage: Exploring Options
  • The Self-Storage Office Makeover

Created for self-storage owners, managers, developers, investors and suppliers, the ISS Expo comprises four days of educational seminars, product and service exhibits, and networking opportunities. With a theme of “Today’s Challenges Are Tomorrow’s Profit,” the event focuses on strategies for generating revenue and perfecting business branding in a demanding economic environment.
 
For details and to register, visit www.insideselfstorageworldexpo.com.

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Kuawa Self Storage Wins 'Best of East Hawaii' Award

Kuawa Self Storage of Hilo, Hawaii, recently received the "Best of East Hawaii" award for 2009 from The Tribune Herald. Newspaper readers voted the facility as the best self-storage business in East Hawaii.
 
In an expression of gratitude to the voting community, the facility owners have launched a new a new special. Customers who sign a minimum two-month rental contract will get their first month of rent for $1 and the second month at a 50 percent discount.
 
Source: TransWorldNews, Kuawa Self Storage Voted Best Self Service Storage Facility in East Hawaii

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Shipman Self Storage Opens in Keaau, Hawaii

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Shipman Self Storage Opens in Keaau, Hawaii

Shipman Self Storage has opened in Keaau, Hawaii, at 16-180 Mikahala Place. Built by local developers, the 70,000-square-foot facility includes amenities such as individual door alarms, climate control, a business center, free Wi-Fi, packing supplies and a digital surveillance system. The facility is offering a grand-opening special of 25 percent off up six months of rent on rentals made before Oct. 1.
 
Source: Hawaii 24/7, Shipman Self Storage project completed

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Property Owner Proposes Self-Storage for Summerwalk Village

Property owner Summerwalk Yelm LLC has submitted an application to develop 600 self-storage units, small retail shops and some restaurants along a 9-acre parcel in Summerwalk, a pedestrian-friendly village community in Lacey, Wash. As the request amends the development’s master plan, it requires approval by the City Council. A decision is expected by the end of the year.  
 
Since the village center received master-plan approval in 1997, it has been slowly developed with homes and townhomes. Although it is slated for some commercial development, past requests have been denied. Mark Hall, CEO of Summerwalk Yelm, says there’s a demand for storage units in the area, and the project can serve as a transitional buffer between the residences and commercial/retail uses along the thoroughfare.
 
Hall has also proposed the construction of a 1,500-square-foot community center to serve residents.
 
Summerwalk Yelm is managed by Hall Equities Group, a development and property-management company based in Walnut Creek, Calif.
 
Source:The News Tribune, Self-storage for Summerwalk?

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