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How did self-storage start? How long has self-storage been around? How big is the self-storage industry?

How did self-storage start? How long has self-storage been around? How big is the self-storage industry? Click here for more

Businessman put his personal things to storage cells before work in coworking. High quality photo

How did self-storage start?

Self-storage has a rather interesting history that dates back centuries! Let’s take brief a journey through time to explore the origins of self-storage and how it has evolved into the modern storage solutions we know and have come to rely on today:

  • Earliest records of self-storage: The concept of self-storage can be traced all the way back to ancient China, where clay pots were used to store personal belongings. In ancient Egyptian times, people also utilised underground chambers to store their possessions securely. While they certainly weren’t as sophisticated as today’s self-storage solutions, the fingerprints are there. 
  • Modern self-storage solutions: The modern self-storage industry, as we know it today, emerged in the United States, around the 1960s. The pioneer of the industry is considered to be Martin Bekins, who opened the first “Bekins Moving and Storage” facility in Omaha, Nebraska, in 1958. However, it was later in Texas, where the true innovation of self-storage took place. Fast forward to today, and the self-storage industry is booming! 
  • The birth of “mini-warehouses”: In the early 1960s, an entrepreneur named Russ Williams built the first self-storage facility in Odessa, Texas. He converted an old bank building into individual storage units that people could rent out on a monthly basis. This concept quickly gained popularity, and soon many other entrepreneurs started adopting the idea, thus leading to the rapid growth of the self-storage industry.

Holding clothing donation box with used clothes and doll at home to support help for poor people in the world.

How long has self-storage been around?

While the concept of self-storage has been around for many centuries in various forms, modern self-storage solutions, as we know them today, emerged in the 1960s. So, the industry has been around for well over six decades and continues to expand globally. 

In other words, it’s been around for a long time and is almost certainly going to be around for a lot longer! 

How big is the self-storage industry?

The self-storage industry has grown significantly over the years, both in terms of the number of facilities available worldwide, and indeed the immense amount of revenue generated. Here are some key facts about the size of the self-storage industry today:

  • Global presence: Self-storage facilities can be found worldwide, with the industry’s presence expanding across continents. It is no longer limited to the United States, but has become a global phenomenon that many people have come to rely on. 
  • Market value: According to recent estimates and predictions, “the global self-storage market is expected to grow at 6.17% CAGR from 2022 to 2029. It is also expected to reach above USD 88.45 billion by 2029 from USD 49.77 billion in 2020”.
  • Number of facilities: In the United States alone, there are more than 50,000 self-storage facilities. The industry continues to grow, with even more new facilities being built to meet the immense demand for additional storage space.
  • Revenue generation: The self-storage industry is a lucrative business indeed. In the United States, it generates billions of dollars in annual revenue. Again, in 2020, the self-storage industry in the U.S. alone generated over $40 billion in revenue! That is a lot of zeroes!

Storage containers. Modern clean lighted secure area with two neat rows of storage containers

Why is self-storage such a popular service today?

So, what’s all the fuss about? Why has self-storage evolved into a global phenomenon that so many people have come to rely on today? 

Self-storage has become increasingly popular for several reasons, leading to its widespread use and demand. Here are a few factors that contribute to its popularity:

  • Decluttering and downsizing: With the rise of minimalism and the desire for a more organised living space, people are looking for efficient ways to de-clutter their homes. Self-storage of course, offers a very convenient solution for storing items that are not frequently used, but still hold value.
  • Moving and relocation: People often require temporary storage when moving or relocating due to the disruption. Self-storage facilities provide a safe and secure space to store belongings and valuables during the transition period.
  • Seasonal storage: Many individuals and businesses need extra storage space for seasonal items like holiday decorations, sports equipment, or inventory. Again, self-storage offers a flexible solution for storing these items until they are needed once again (it’s better than leaving the Christmas decorations up all year and looking like a crazy person). 
  • Business storage: Another great benefit is the fact that self-storage is not limited to personal use. It has become an essential service for businesses, providing storage space for inventory, documents, equipment, and more. It offers a cost-effective alternative to maintaining large warehouses or office spaces – which is perfect for small business owners and/or those working from home.

Curly-haired man opens a storage unit, next to his girlfriend with cardboard boxes

Is the self-storage industry worth investing in?

Now onto the important question: is the self-storage industry worth investing in or is it too late? 

You’ll be pleased to learn that investing in the self-storage industry can be a highly appealing opportunity for a number of reasons. However, like any investment opportunity, it comes with its own set of considerations. Here are some factors to keep in mind if you’ve been giving it some thought:

  • Market demand: The growing demand for self-storage indicates that there is great potential for a stable customer base. However, it’s important for you to research the local market in your area in order to assess the level of competition – and the need for additional storage facilities.
  • Location: Choosing the right location is crucial for the success of a self-storage investment. Areas with growing populations for example, high mobility, and limited storage options can offer far better prospects.
  • Operational costs and management: Of course, running a self-storage facility involves ongoing expenses, such as maintenance, security, and marketing. As such, it’s important to factor in these costs when evaluating the profitability of your investment.
  • Professional guidance: If you’re considering investing in the self-storage industry, it can be highly beneficial to seek advice from professionals who specialise in industrial real estate and commercial property investments.

Conclusion

To wrap this up, self-storage has a rich history that spans centuries, with modern self-storage solutions emerging in the 1960s. 

The industry has since grown significantly and is now a global phenomenon. This rapid growth and popularity can be attributed to self-storage and its convenience for de-cluttering, moving home, or simply storing your lesser-used items that still hold sentimental value. 

If you have been thinking about investing, the self-storage industry is indeed sizable, with billions of dollars in annual revenue and projected growth in the coming years. Just remember to be mindful of market demand, location, and the sizeable operational costs involved. 

In any case, we hope that you have found this article useful and now have a good understanding of self-storage and its long and colourful history.

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