NEW BEDFORD — During the COVID-19 quarantine people reconnected with old hobbies, appreciated the extra time with family and friends, reflected on life choices and dug into those cleaning projects around the house.
As a result, leasing units at storage facilities increased tremendously across the country. According to a USAToday article, cities such as Miami, New York and Los Angeles have little to no more on-site storage space available.
"Relocating and decluttering are some of the main reasons people choose self-storage," said Tony Goff, director of operators at TrueStorage in Manchester, New Hampshire.
In October, True Storage opened its sixth self-storage location at 969 Shawmut Ave., New Bedford. It took six months to convert a former recycling transfer station into 627 climate-controlled storage units. It is managed by Extra Space Storage.
“We are excited to be part of the New Bedford community,” said Chris Lewis, director of Architecture and Design for True Storage in a press release. “This store will not only provide a needed service to the community and surrounding businesses, but it enhances the visual appeal of the area."
Through partnerships with national self-storage companies, True Storage produces premium Class A storage space. According to its website, the company has completed the build for facilities in Bourne; Manchester, New Hampshire; Cranston, Rhode Island; and Lafayette, Indiana.
In November 2020, True Storage opened the CubeSmart facility in Swansea. According to Goff, it is already 50% occupied with 307 units leased.
An increase in leases amid pandemic
According to statistics from the Self Storage Association, more than 30,000 owners operate roughly 55,000 self-storage facilities nationwide. Goff said, "without a doubt" there has been an increase in rentals/rates since the pandemic.
Before the pandemic, the industry averaged 3.5 percent annual growth for more than 30 years, according to Roger Morales, the head of commercial real estate acquisitions for the investment firm KKR.
"The customer interaction landscape changed," Goff said. "I would say a stronger web presence coupled with evolving tech for online rentals increased lease ups."
After a drop in the first half of 2020, self-storage has roared back, with Americans cleaning out spaces to create home offices or classrooms.
Another reason was an increase in young adults choosing to leave big city areas to ride out the pandemic at their parents’ home while storing their belongings.
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Businesses have also reduced office space, according to a USAToday article, and are moving their equipment and supplies into self-storage, too.
"It gives people an opportunity to expand their lifestyle, without having to add an addition to their home," Goff said."
Storage facilities have also been popularized by hit TV shows such as "Storage Hunters," "Barry D Treasure" and "Storage Wars."
"I had the privilege of connecting with Dan and Laura Dotson," added Goff, of the auctioneers on "Storage Wars."
"It was fantastic, they are very supportive of the storage industry. Down to earth and easy to connect with. We don’t have many storage TV celebrities, so it was a privilege exchanging contact information," he said.
The craziest items found during a storage unit auction on "Storage Wars" include chicken glasses, massive crystals, vintage dentures, a breast augmentation machine and a human skeleton.
"When it comes to tenants going into default payments/auctions, each state's specific lien law guidelines are followed," said Goff, adding that they follow the state-specific guidelines when a tenant passes away, too.
Why invest in a storage unit?
At Extra Space Storage, the facility has convenient freeway access, flexible gate hours, 24-hour interior and exterior video surveillance, security access to the unit, a variety of unit sizes, a covered loading bay and high-end finishes throughout the facility.
According to LifeStorageBlog.com, there are many reasons people use storage units aside from decluttering or moving. For example, customers use storage facilities to store their cars during the winter months. Most self-storage facilities provide outdoor, covered or climate-controlled indoor parking spaces.
Additionally, parents with kids who go away to college may lease a unit to store dorm room stuff over the summer. Customers also may choose to use a unit to hold onto the belongings of a loved one who has passed away, for a short period of time, until they are ready to go through it.
"An item you would have fought over might be handled with a bit more grace and less anger when people have healed more emotionally," the blog post states.
Customers may consider a storage locker to store belongings during a home renovation. People with small businesses may also use a storage unit for their files or extra merchandise.
"It feels great opening our New Bedford site. We love our Mass. markets," said Goff.
Standard-Times staff writer Seth Chitwood can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on twitter: @ChitwoodReports. Support local journalism by purchasing a digital or print subscription to The Standard-Times today.
This article originally appeared on Standard-Times: Extra Space Storage facility opens in New Bedford; True Storage design