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Creating a Retail-Sales Center for Your Boat/RV-Storage Customers

As a self-storage operator, you can make great ancillary income by offering boat and RV storage; but you can make even more money if you also sell products and supplies that appeal to your boat and RV tenants. Here are some products to carry in your facility’s retail center.

By Nancy Martin Wagner

Boat and RV storage can be an excellent profit center for self-storage facility operators in several markets; however, these operators can make even more money if they also offer products and supplies designed specifically for their boat and RV tenants. These might include items customers forgot to pick up before an outing or ones that aren’t easy to find at other stores, such as humidity absorbers, RV-friendly toilet tissue, stretch cords, tarps and more.

This is where your retail center comes in! Offering these must-have items will boost your facility’s revenue while providing tenants with conveniences and superb customer service. Here are some ways to turn your management office into a boat/RV-storage specialty shop.

Maintenance Products

Boats and RVs require regular maintenance to run smoothly, but when they’re in storage, it can be easy for their owners to forget essential tasks. The following products will make it simpler for your boat/RV-storage customers to keep their vehicles in good working order and also help protect your facility from maintenance-related hazards.

  • Offer tarps in various sizes, such as 10-by-12 feet or 18-by-24 feet, so owners can cover their vehicles while in storage. Stretch cords in 10 packs or nylon tie-down ropes in 50-foot packages are also useful for tarping.
  • Clear, self-adhesive, carpet-protector plastic in rolls of 24 inches wide by 50 feet long or 21 inches wide by 30 feet long will help keep vehicle carpets clean.
  • Packaged humidity absorbers will help prevent mildew, mold and musty odors when storing a camper or boat. These can be sold as hanging bags, buckets and pouches and should be replaced every three to six months.
  • Some vehicles will leak oil or anti-freeze. An oil shield will soak up 10 times its weight in oil and is a better solution than cardboard. This will help you save your concrete and pavement and avoid slippery spots. The oil shield can be purchased in three different sizes: 2-by-5 feet, 4-by-5 feet and 4-by-10 feet.
  • Magnetic LED lights are a great item to sell to vehicle-storage customers. You can offer them at an affordable price and still enjoy a full margin.
  • RV owners are always in need of heavy-duty, outdoor extension cords, locking power cords and power-cord extenders.
  • RV/marine toilet tissue is 100 percent biodegradable and dissolves rapidly to prevent clogging in holding tanks and sewer hoses.
  • RV owners need water bottles that fit on an RV refrigerator shelf and have a convenient tap dispenser.
  • Boaters and RV owners may need other items such as safety chains, power-adaptor plugs, universal wire kits and small garbage-bag refill rolls.

The above products aren’t easy to find in an average convenience or grocery store. By offering them at your storage property, you’re doing your customers a favor. Just make sure you price items competitively to garner trust and keep customers coming back.

Security Products

Security is critical for stored boats and RVs, and there are different ways to secure a vehicle depending on its size and type. When it comes to protecting his investment, the owner should do everything possible to ensure a thief isn’t able to hook it up to a truck and tow it away. As the storage-facility owner, you can sell products to aid him in his task.

First, your customers should lock the coupler on their vehicle with a padlock or disc lock and insert a dummy trailer ball (available in a box set) into the tongue before locking it. If the tongue receiver is full, a thief will find it very difficult to hook up to the trailer. If the trailer has a pintle-style receiver (as on most transport, construction and military trailers), there’s a pintle lock that can be inserted into the receiver and secured with a padlock.

Vehicle owners can also use wheel locks or boots, one on each axle to make it difficult to move the trailer. They can even wrap a chain around each axle and lock it with a disc lock, which is difficult to cut with bolt-cutters.

Disc locks often come packaged in two-packs or five-packs, keyed the same. A self-storage operator can buy them at whole sale and sell them for approximately $10 per lock, making a full margin. Combination disk locks that allow the customer to reset the code are also available. There are also locks made for kingpin/fifth-wheel RV trailers. Cast of ductile iron, they can withstand maximum abuse.

It’s your job to explain to every customer the importance of preventing unwanted drive-offs of their property. By providing a selection of locks and other security products in your retail center, you assist him in securing his investment while generating more ancillary income for your site.

All of these products will make you an expert in the eyes of boat and RV owners. By offering the supplies they need to prepare for and enjoy their journeys, as well as those that help them maintain their vehicles while in storage, your facility will generate more revenue than it would by offering boat/RV storage alone. By stocking the items you need to provide a great retail center, you’ll attract and retain more business from boat and RV tenants.

Nancy Martin Wagner is vice president marketing for Chateau Products Inc., a lock and latch manufacturer specializing in the self-storage industry. The company offers disc locks and padlocks for resale as well as cylinder BEZEL latching systems, retail-store fixtures, and packing supplies. All orders are shipped within 24 hours from the company’s Florida or Nevada warehouses. For more information, call 800.833.9296 or visit

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