Consider the four square feet immediately around you. Now consider that are you occupying your average per capita share of the Great American Self Storage Empire. According to the Self Storage Association, a trade group charged with monitoring such things, the country now possesses some 1,875 billion square feet of personal storage. All this space is contained in nearly 40,000 facilities owned and operated by more than 2,000 entrepreneurs, including a handful of publicly traded giants like Public Storage, Storage USA, and Shurgard.
What this translates into, apart from one hell of a lot of stationary bikes kept behind padlocked metal doors, is an industry that now exceeds the revenues of Hollywood (and doesn’t have to deal with Tom Cruise). One in 11 American households, according to a recent survey, owns self-storage space–an increase of some 75 percent from 1995. Most operators of self-storage facilities report 90 percent occupancy, with average stints among its renters of 15 months. Last year alone saw a 24 percent spike in the number of self-storage units on the market.
The causes? Lots of moving, ebay sellers, massive spending on large consumption goods, and smaller (or absent) attics and basements in many new homes. Here is the full story.