Self Storage Facilities – New Wave or Old Origins?

Self storage facilities are plentiful, right? Have you ever wondered though, where it began that someone said “let’s build a building to store other peoples stuff?” I know I sure have. Let’s take a walk through history together and see where our empire got its humble beginnings from.

The earliest evidence that historians can find of a self storage like development is in China about 4,000-6,000 years ago! I can guarantee you that they didn’t have access boxes or security cameras back then! In fact, actual hired guards would watch over things that would be placed in clay pots and then placed in a hole in the ground. There was no climate control, either! Very humble beginnings indeed.

From there we can move on to 1891 when brothers Martin and John Bekins founded a moving company in Nebraska that used horse drawn carts to capitalize on all those moving west. Seeing that moving and storage go hand in hand, It was only a natural progression for the brothers to open up a storage facility in 1985 in California. They can be accredited with being the first concrete, fireproof constructed building made for the exact purpose of housing other peoples things.

It wasn’t until the 1950’s that self storage took the form that we know of today. Mom and pop facilities began popping up increasingly and in the 1970’s we saw the first nationwide chains appearing. Today, there is about 2.3 billion square feet (that’s equivalent of the land size of Manhattan times 3!) of available rentable space. This may sound like a lot, but considering that 1 in 10 households in the United States have at least one storage unit, the availability has not yet begun to outweigh the demand. The most common type of self storage tenant are those who are making a move, either locally or cross country. And seeing that people are always on the move, I don’t see that demand going away anytime soon!

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