History of Self-Storage Units

Storage units are rented space, separate from the renter’s dwelling. Tenants of these units keep goods in this space, separate from the properties on which they live, so they can access them later. They maintain ownership of these objects without having to have room for them in their house or apartment. The space can come in the form of rooms, lockers, or even shipment-size containers. As opposed to warehousing, self-storage means that you are serving yourself, and no one—even the administrator—else can access the unit without your consent.

The History

Storage units as we know them today got their start in the 1960s. The first self-storage unit company was founded by the Collum family in 1958, named Lauderdale Storage, after the town of Fort Lauderdale where it was established. The ones in use today have retained the same model as this early, pioneering example. The demand for storage units in America greatly outstrips the demand from all the other countries in the world. Over 80% of all self-storage units in the world are based in the U.S.

In the early days, the demand for the units was low as people were wary of trusting their valuable possessions to somewhere they couldn’t keep an eye on them. Demand for the services took off in the mid-nineties, as people acquired more property, and security in the storage industry improved, making it easier for the public to trust them. Soon, the demand for private storage facilities outmatched the supply, making the proprietors rush in to fill this gap. This exciting time period saw the construction of over 3000 storage units annually, between the year 2000 and 2005.

There are now about 6000 storage facilities in the world. Out of these, over 5,000 are in the U.S. with much of the rest scattered across Britain and Australia. The growing demand for the facilities has seen the number of companies offering the service skyrocket, with no end in sight of the need for extra space to safely store possessions. Storage units are popular in large cities like New York, where the average apartment size is quite small. Residents of cities want a convenient place to keep the items they aren’t ready to part with, but that don’t fit in their apartments. Storage units are an economical and convenient solution.


There are different choices for the different uses that tenants of these facilities need. The basic deciding factor is size. How much stuff do you have, and in how small of a space can you reasonably store it? The standard units measure 10 feet by 10 feet, with a height of 1.5 meters (about 5 feet). The units are ideal for the storage of furniture, documents and small appliances. Other units can measure 10 by 20 feet, where you can easily store items the size of a typical car. There are units larger than the one mentioned, and they range from 15 by 20 feet and 20 by 20 feet, and this makes them ideal for the storage of commercial sized goods, such as container shipments. You can even find outdoor facilities, big enough to hold boats and trailers. Most good facilities offer some form of climate control, so you can be sure any paper or fabric (including furniture) won’t get moldy over time. Humidity control may be a deciding factor when choosing a storage unit. Are you storing items you would safely store outside, but you just don’t have room for them at home? Or are your goods more delicate, and require a managed environment for safekeeping?


This being a multi-billion dollar industry, the security of the items being stored in the units is crucial to any successful administrator. The ability to get clients to believe that their possessions will be safe is what rents out storage units. The access to the areas is limited only to clients. Various security precautions are set up to ensure the safety of the property inside. These precautions might include; security cameras, security guards, and computer access systems. Tenants may need keys or codes they enter into keypads to access the facility, as well as their individual units. While small, locked-sized units are typically housed in a building, accessed through the interior, many large units are set up like garages, arranged next to one another on a big lot, all accessible from the outside without first entering a building. Climate control, which is vital for the proper preservation of goods inside, can be considered an additional form of security.