Self storage has been taking it on the chin recently, and now it’s time to fight back.

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Environmentalist Adam Werbach, former president of the Sierra Club, was quoted on Twitter as proclaiming that self-storage “is a symbol of what happens when we consume too much. We have too much stuff, and we’re paying the price.”

And in a recent Times article, author Howard Mansfield wrote off the self-storage unit as “a symptom of our cluttered lives.” (By the way, it’s estimated that just 2 per cent to 5 per cent of us are true hoarders.)

In response Storage-Pro management services submitted these comments.

To be sure, thousands of South African’s cope with clutter, as both Werbach and Mansfield alluded to. But their dismissal of self-storage as a “symbol” or a “symptom” of over consumption or clutter overlooks the valid, clutter-free reasons that we (about 10 per cent of South African’s) rent storage units.

Take, for instance, a newly divorced woman who’s obviously going through a difficult transition. She may need a place to temporarily keep her belongings while she’s sorting out where she’s going to live.

Or how about a son who’s moving his elderly father into a nursing home? Is the son just supposed to chuck everything his father owns? He may need to store his dad’s possessions temporarily – perhaps even some treasured photos or antique furniture – as Dad settles into his new digs.

Then there’s the family moving from Durban to Johannesburg. To properly “stage” their Durban home, which is about to go on the market, they need to temporarily store some of their furnishings.

And let’s not forget the many small businesses that turn to self-storage as an inexpensive alternative to warehousing their inventory.

Many small businesses fall into that last category. Some own and operate small businesses like plumbers and electricians. They need little enough space to store their valuable tools and equipment.

“It’s cleaner and a hell of a lot cheaper,” It’s a lot cheaper and cleaner for them as they can now live in a moderately priced complex without the need for additional space to keep these goods.

They can now pay as little R 900 to R1200 a month for a standard garage in a well secured storage complex.

Keeping in mind that we do live in a third world country it also removes the risk of attracting unwanted midnight shoppers to the homes of our budding entrepreneurs.

So, for thousands of small businesses, self-storage isn’t a matter of dealing with clutter. It’s a matter of dealing with life. Cedar Storage surveys of hundreds of self-storage customers and about two-thirds of customers questioned in January through September said they needed self-storage because they were moving; less than 15 per cent cited de-cluttering as the reason.

Many more reasons were given, as an example one client who’s parent was moving to a retirement home said that it was the best idea he had as his father wanted to select the items he needed once in the home. This would allow the family to wait and see what to do before making any final decisions with the balance of the goods once daddy had said he was done.

Another was a client who moved his goods into storage as he was busy with major renovations to his home nearby the storage facility. His idea was he could still access his belongings and sports equipment when the need arises. Whereas if left on a construction site with multiple contractors coming and going all would be at risk! Simplicity in our rushed lives also helps us to do better.

By no means is the self-storage unit always, as Mansfield suggested, a “gated enclave for excess stuff.” In many cases, self-storage is a solution to a temporary “problem”, not a symptom of some sort of permanent clutter “plague”.

The director at Storage-Pro, Anthony McHenry also added when any industry is attacked or slandered it is best to do your own research and make your own conclusions. 10 years ago coffee was bad for us and today we are told it will help reduce cancer and many other ailments which plague modern society. Moderation is the key. Self storage is used on a as needed basis all around the world for many reasons. Convenience is the overriding reason this industry is so well liked and used by all.

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