Is There Value In Adding A Novelty Item To Your Self Storage Facility Frontage?

We’re all big kids – we love to see roadside attractions. Perhaps it’s because it breaks the monotony of the American road, or maybe it’s because we enjoy the humor and splendor of these unique creations. But would it be a good idea to add some unusual sparkle to your self-storage facility?

The benefits

There are clearly some benefits to tying in a unique visual novelty to your storage facility, which include:

  • Grabbing attention from passing motorists and potential customers.
  • Creating notoriety that can be used to describe your facility from a simple “underneath the ____” description.
  • Giving your customers a reaffirming boost every time they stop by.
  • Providing your storage facility with bit of individuality in a world of orange doors.

With all of these related to attracting and retaining customers, there’s financial benefit here.

The cost vs. benefit metric

One of the compelling items in favor of a novelty item at your entrance is the simple economic formula of cost vs. benefit. These type of items are fairly inexpensive and offer far more potential financial gain than they cost. The typical price ranges from $5,000 to $20,000. With one occupied storage unit worth around $10,000 at a 7% cap rate, then it’s simple math that if this item rents just one unit it has more than paid for itself.

What the options are

So if you are liking the idea, then the next question is “what are the options?” Here are the ones that I’ve seen over time:

  • An airplane (typically a real plane that is salvage, and not the one shown in the above photo).
  • A classic car (typically a salvage ’57 Chevy or similar model).
  • A giant fictional character (like Paul Bunyon).
  • A giant animal (like a longhorn).
  • A giant object (like a cowboy boot).
  • A giant dinosaur.

Most of these items are replicas of items found on Route 66 and, in some cases, have been relocated from other businesses that shut down years ago and were purchased as classic marketing items. They are normally made of fiberglass, steel or concrete.


But these creations can also require some proactive thought to make sure that there are no problems with their installation:

  • Make sure that you have the necessary state, county or city permits. Remember that these type of items can often be covered in the local sign ordinance and it may not allow this type of marketing feature.
  • Talk to your insurance agent and make sure you have this properly insured for liability.
  • Make sure you have selected an appropriate mascot and not one that has negative connotations.
  • Think through the cost to maintain this item as it will need periodic painting and repair.

Don’t get caught up in the excitement and forget the realities of safety and expense.

Frank Rolfe has been an active self-storage investor for around two decades, with self-storage units in many states throughout the U.S. His nuts and bolts knowledge of what makes for a successful self-storage facility has led to a three-decade career without a single failed property.