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June 1st, 2014

Memo From Frank & Dave

Was “Storage Wars” rigged? Or do strange – and valuable – items turn up at standard auctions of self-storage units? So far, the show has denied rumors that it plants these items prior to the taping, but anyone who watches has to be a little suspicious of why a unit with a broken Christmas tree and a few ornaments would also have a an original Picasso. But the producers contend that what’s really happening is that they do not film the average boring units, but only those with unique contents, so it skews the perception of how many units contain such items. We’ve never found any treasure in a unit being auctioned off for non-payment of rent. However, we’ve found a lot of value in the facilities themselves. The real winners of Storage Wars are the people that own the facilities themselves.

Why Self Storage Demand Will Remain Strong For Decades To Come

Self-storage has continued to perform well despite these past seven years of national recession. So how does self-storage defy the odds and do well both in boom times and bust? What’s the magic formula? Well, there are several important reasons.

Americans are great accumulators of “stuff”

It has now been estimated that the average American household owns 8,000 pounds of material goods. That means that, with over 100,000,000 households in the U.S., there is 8 TRILLION pounds of material possessions that must be put somewhere. Many Americans already have a good percentage of this stuff in their own self-storage locker. But others are still learning that it’s often a better use of prime floor and closet space in their homes to put it in storage, and that it’s a lot cheaper to put items in storage than to have to buy replacements every season. The bottom line: the more “stuff” we buy, the more we have to store – and Americans are insatiable in their desire to buy.

“Change” is what creates demand for storage

It doesn’t matter if times are good or bad. What fuels the demand for self-storage is “change”. When people move, when they retire, when they downsize their home, the “change” in circumstances is what fuels the need for storage, regardless if it’s moving up or moving down. Every American, upon some change in their lifestyle, is going to need some type of self-storage unit. I have two of them. One of the two I originally planned on keeping for maybe six months. It’s been nine years now.

America is in a state of perpetual “change”

What is a more common topic in America than “change”? Baby Boomers are retiring at the rate of 10,000 per day and downsizing constantly. Heads of households are searching for work and often moving across the nation in search of a decent job. Others are losing their decent jobs and taking lower paying ones, which force them to move to cheaper housing. We have millions of young people going to college, or storing their stuff when they leave college. The bottom line is that America is in a continual state of flux, and all that change is great for self-storage facilities.


Self-storage is an industry that seems to have endless strength. It would appear that the industry was custom made for the times we live in. Those guys back in the1970s really had a good idea when they built those first storage units – but they probably had no idea how good it was. America is a storage culture, and will be as far as the eye can see.

And The Winner Is...

Chelsea Mini-Storage at 626 West 28th Street in Manhattan is the largest self-storage facility in the U.S. They have over 1 million square feet of space under one roof. To put that in perspective, that’s about as large as the largest shopping malls in the U.S., and half the square feet of the Empire State Building. And the smallest facility in the U.S.? Probably the space in your wall that the mice keep their Christmas decorations in.

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