SOURCE: GazetteXtra | AUTHOR: Gina Duwe | ARTICLE DATE: July 18, 2015
JANESVILLE—Our nation of consumers has become a nation of packrats. We now have enough space for all Americans to fit under the collective roof of self-storage at the same time.
Whether they’re moving, downsizing or decluttering, Americans have a growing need to store items that either don’t fit in their homes or that they don’t want to keep there.
In Rock County, that need has fueled the construction of multiple new storage facilities.
“I think maybe more people are willing to have the expense of a unit than before, just because they feel the need to have it,” said Dave Gregornik, who has owned Eastside Storage with his father, John, for a decade.
“I think once they find out that by storing a few things, their house is less cluttered, they enjoy that, as well.”
A housing market that’s the strongest it has been in years is helping fuel the demand for storage units locally, industry experts say.
“A lot more people are in panic mode—’I need something today,’” said Gregornik, whose Janesville facility has more than 200 units. “You can tell by their voice they’ve tried other places.”
In one weekend, Lori Peppard had five people tell her they needed to be out of their homes in a week. She is the Madison-area manager of Segues Senior Move Specialists.
The housing market is much stronger than it has been in many years, and some homes in the area are selling within a week, said Jeff Zuelke, vice president of the Rock-Green Realtors Association.
“Storage units are getting to be an increasingly important part of the real estate equation, particularly for those who are planning on maybe moving up in a home,” he said, noting that sellers need to clean and declutter their homes to help sales.
The self-storage industry has seen so much construction that every man, woman and child in the country could fit under the total canopy of self-storage roofing. That’s 7.3 square feet per person, according to the Self Storage Association.
While it took more than 25 years for the self-storage industry to build its first billion square feet of space, it took only eight years—from 1998 to 2005—to add the second billion square feet, according to the association.
Occupancy rates can be a good indicator of the local economy, said Chris Tuescher, who with her husband, Carl, owns Crosby Avenue Self Storage, with two facilities on Crosby Avenue and Johnson Street in Janesville. They built their first building about 18 years ago and now have a total of 328 units.
She isn’t sure why the industry has grown.
“Perhaps we have more toys,” she said. “We just have more stuff, and then there’s people (who) tend to keep things.”
Rental prices in the area range from $45 to $55 for a 10-by-10 unit, which is big enough to store a full living room and two bedrooms, to $100 to $125 for a 10-by-30 unit, which could store the contents of a large house.
Much of the recent growth comes from Fox Den Store-It, which has new facilities off Interstate 90/39 near Edgerton and on Highway 14 west of Janesville. It also has a facility under construction on Avalon Road on Janesville’s south side.
A Fox Den spokesperson was not available for comment.
When the recession hit and the General Motors plant closed, the local storage business took a hit, Tuescher said.
“People were starting to pinch pennies, and storage is not one of their priorities—it would be a luxury item,” she said.
Occupancy rates now are “pretty good,” she said, and the industry is an indicator that people are comfortable. She hears renters’ stories, and “today they’re not as fearful as they were.”
BIG TOYS, COLLECTIONS, CLUTTER
The Self Storage Association estimates that 8.96 percent of all American households rent self-storage units, an increase from 6 percent in 1995.
Aside from storing big toys such as vehicles, snowmobiles, boats and campers, people also store seasonal yard equipment, clothing, furniture, paper records and memorabilia.
With Gregornik’s facility literally in the backyard of many homes in the east-side neighborhood, many people “treat it like it’s a garage” and retrieve items often.
But a lot of stuff is what Tuescher calls “rummage.” Some people will pay to store their things “for a long, long time and then decide they really don’t want it,” she said. “Then they’ll have a rummage sale.”
“All kinds of different people” use storage, she said.
“People are reluctant to get rid of things, with the idea that they’ll want it in the future,” Gregornik explained.
He pointed to himself—he might need that “something” someday—and his wife, who likes to have him swap out household items from time to time.
People shop for fun now, and many have the attitude that “if one is good, seven is better,” said Peppard, of the senior moving company. “We see a lot of people with multiple things of the same thing. It’s not just shoes; it’s pretty much everything.”
Most of Peppard’s clients are downsizing, and the challenge is dealing with items people have saved for their children.
“Nine times out of 10, the children don’t want it,” she said.
The parents can’t part with their stuff, so they store it, she said. One man she is working with has had two storage units for 13 years.
“That’s a lot of money,” she said.
Storage unit owners say people often rent with a short-term plan in mind but end up still renting years later.
That’s what happened with Kim Subrod, who needed to move her things into a Beloit storage unit quickly for a job relocation 10 years ago.
“I never intended to have it there that long,” she said. “I do cringe at the thought of spending the money every month on it but appreciate that I can.”
She didn’t know where she would end up with her job as a flight attendant, but she has a friend who lives nearby who checks on her unit.
“I’ve emptied most of it, but there are sentimental things left that I will hopefully get out soon,” she said.
Gregornik is working to add climate control to part of his storage building after seeing increasing interest in storing sensitive items.
Gregornik’s least favorite part of the job is auctioning off the contents of unpaid units. That happens every three or so years after he has notified the owners. The popular reality TV show “Storage Wars” has helped attract 50 or more people to his auctions, which previously only drew two to three, he said.
Wisconsin law requires a unit be opened ahead of time, so people have an idea of what they’re bidding on.
“That takes a little bit of the drama out of it,” Gregornik said.
When Tuescher has an unpaid unit, she tries to return anything of value to the owner. Then local charity Acts of Kindness cleans out the unit and gives the contents to people in need. The Salvation Army also receives donations, she said.
– read original article at: http://www.walworthcountytoday.com/20150718/storage_units_tell_stories_of_our_collections
FACTS ABOUT SELF STORAGE
The not-for-profit Self Storage Association compiled these industry facts:
—The self-storage industry has been one of the fastest-growing sectors in the U.S. commercial real estate industry over the last 40 years.
—The U.S. is home to more than 52,500 self-storage facilities. More than 58,000 operate worldwide.
—The total rentable self-storage space in the U.S. is slightly more than 2.3 billion square feet. That’s more than 78 square miles of protected space—more than three times the size of Manhattan Island in New York.
—The average revenue per square foot is $1.18 for a nonclimate-controlled 10-by-10 unit and $1.51 for the same size climate-controlled unit, according to recent data.
—The occupancy rate for year-end 2014 was 88.1 percent, up from 86.8 percent for year-end 2013.
—Nationally, rent averages $118 to $151 per month, depending on climate control, for a 10-by-10 unit.
—The self-storage space capacity in the U.S. is enough for about 21 square feet per American household.
—About 13 percent of all renters say they will rent for less than three months, 18 percent for three to six months, 18 percent for seven to 12 months, 22 percent for one to two years and 30 percent for more than two years.
—Some 68 percent of all self-storage renters live in single-family households; 27 percent live in apartments or condos.
—Some 65 percent of all self-storage renters have garages but still rent units; 47 percent have attics in their homes; 33 percent have basements.
—Some 47 percent of all self-storage renters have annual household incomes of less than $50,000 per year; 63 percent have annual household incomes of less than $75,000 per year.