A Look at Self Storage

The self-storage sector in South Africa has experienced tremendous growth in the last few years, if you were looking at storing years of gift giving, or even looking at ways to store your old furniture or perhaps a boat or car 10 years ago it would have been difficult because it was almost non-existent.

Self-storage in South Africa, especially Cape Town is not a new concept or industry, if you have watched storage wars or any American popular sitcom you will be familiar with the idea.  

Let’s look at the history of Self storage a bit more in-depth.

The first form of self-storage was born in England in the 1850’s. These first-generation self-storage warehouses were created because of the overcrowding of British banking institutions and were used to store and protect valuables for clients embarking on lengthy voyages. These self-storage warehouses gave birth to the creation of a warehouse design consisting of a two-story building with packaging on the bottom and personal units up top, not dissimilar to what we know today as self-storage.

Today's version of self-storage, or the second-generation" self-storage as a commercial business began in the late 1960s in Texas. It was developed by the pioneers of the self-storage business, who wanted to capitalize on consumerism that was infiltrating American society driven by the recognition of a growing demand for residential and commercial storage. These were the real-estate developers who ventured out and set the stage for the industry that we know today.

Self-storage as an industry started only about a decade again when a few agricultural-land owners began building 25 to 50 garages on their plots on city outskirts. Over time some of the properties were developed to house an average of 300 units per facility. These facilities enjoyed an average occupancy of 90 percent and provided a substantial passive rental income.

Early storage facilities were crude and basic in comparison to today’s facilities. Most were simple brick garages with iron roofs, roller-shutter doors and brick-paved roads, all offering the same basic service, product, price, design and layout. The quality of the buildings was generally quite high, and the higher the quality, the higher the rental rates and occupancy.

These early day facilities, unlike today offerings didn’t offer value added services such as insurance or credit card payments to customers. Most of these businesses targeted the residential market, though and almost no promotions or advertising were used, other than Yellow Pages ads. By today standards most consumers were largely unaware of the industry’s existence.

It was an industry that was happy to quietly remain in the background earning a good income. But eventually, when the entrepreneurs woke up, South Africa was in the middle of a gigantic property boom, and people were looking for places to store their excesses items. The high cost of land meant self-storage development opportunities were not viable, for those looking to enter the industry combined with the fact that those who were able to build new facilities were those who already owned suitable land to develop.

It was also extremely expensive to buy an existing facility as the original developers were getting excellent returns and had no motivation to sell. Nor were there any specialty self-storage property-management companies, or an association to welcome potential investors into the industry.
 
Today there is roughly 70,000 self-storage units of varying sizes and in various urban and rural locations in South Africa, with an average occupancy of 70 to 80 percent, meaning 56,000 units are occupied at any given time.

It is an industry that has truly come of age, where competition is fierce, and service is everything.

Today’s consumers expect easy access, with office hours for office hours and afterhours access. The offices of these facilities carry a full line of such things as shipping tape, bubble wrap and cardboard boxes. They may also have shelving kits which can help increase the available room in a unit. With everything you need at one location you can take your time and work at your own speed. Facilities are also expected to provide security gates that are password operated, and security cameras help to further ensure that your possessions will be kept safe and convenient to access most hours of the day.

Whatever your reasons are for wanting to store something, a storage unit may offer the perfect solution. Think Secure Storage Units provide customers with a state-of-the-art protection facility, at an affordable monthly rental cost.