How Did Self Storage Begin

Posted on 14 October 2023 | 5 minute read

self storage beginning

The concept of self storage, as we know it, may seem like a modern phenomenon. However, the roots of self storage can be traced back to ancient civilizations, such as Ancient China, where it is believed to have begun nearly 6,000 years ago. Craftsmen would fashion individual storage pots out of clay, which people stored in an underground communal pit, acting as the storage facility.

One story related to those early times suggests that the underground storage rooms were commercial endeavours. This rudimentary concept of early storage isn’t far removed from how self storage businesses operate today.

It seems that even in ancient times, people faced similar challenges of limited space and the need for secure storage solutions. Keep reading to learn more about how the self storage industry became the worldwide phenomenon we have today.

Earliest Records of Self Storage

Fast forward from Ancient China to more recent times when storage space became a commodity for sale, and we arrive at the early British aristocracy. Wealthier individuals with a taste for travel would go on expeditions requiring months of time at sea.

Rather than leave all their valuable possessions behind in vacant mansions, they turned to the banks to keep their items secure. It seems there were a lot of wealthy travellers, as the banks quickly ran out of room and needed other options. Their answer was to hire out stables to keep the bulkier possessions. Unfortunately, little is known about what happened to the stables’ original clientele, the horses.

Martin Bekin is credited with developing the first commercial venture in personal storage during the 1850s. Bekin’s business focused on new immigrants arriving in America with everything they owned but nowhere to stash it.

He built the first self storage warehouse in 1906, constructed from concrete and reinforced steel and offering a somewhat barebones storage system compared to what customers can access today.

The Beginning of Modern Self Storage

Did you know the modern self storage industry is booming, with nearly 60,000 facilities worldwide? According to the Self Storage Association, there are a staggering number of storage facilities across the globe. In the United States alone, the total rentable space adds up to a mind-boggling 2.3 billion square feet of self storage – that’s more than three times the size of Manhattan!

The total rental space across New Zealand isn’t too shabby either, with a report from 2022 revealing that there are now 2,213 storage units operating across these two nations, a growth of 9.5% from 2020’s figures.

But how did this industry grow from its humble beginnings into the massive industry it is today? We already know about the ancient origins of self storage, and people haven’t changed much in their need to get things out from underfoot.

In the 1850s, the first warehouse designed to store personal and household items was built. This marked a significant milestone in the evolution of self storage as we know it today. No longer just a service provided by banks for the wealthy, globe-trotting aristocracy, people now had a dedicated space to store their belongings outside their homes.

Since then, the self storage industry has come a long way. With technological advancements and an ever-increasing demand for storage space, operators have transformed self storage facilities into state-of-the-art establishments. From climate-controlled units to high-security measures, these facilities offer convenience, peace of mind, and various options to cater to various storage needs.

The competition in the self storage market has become fiercer than ever, with operators constantly striving to provide the best services and facilities. Today, self storage has become an indispensable part of many people’s lives, whether for individuals moving homes, families needing extra space, or businesses looking for a secure place to store their inventory.

So next time you pass by a self storage facility, take a moment to appreciate the fascinating history behind it. From ancient Chinese clay pots to modern-day warehouses, self storage has come a long way. It’s here to stay and ready to meet our ever-growing needs for space.
self-storage facility

Self Storage with a Difference

You need more space, but do you really want to pack the truck, drive it across town, unload it again, and then dread the day when you have to do it all again?

Wouldn’t it be great if your storage unit arrived on your doorstep and then got whisked away again after you’ve filled it? Would this make self storage more convenient? There is good news because this type of storage is available to you today.

1800 We Store It is the next evolutionary leap in self storage solutions. With secure portable containers dropped right outside your door, you can save time and money by skipping the truck hire, loading and unloading, and driving across town to the self storage facility.

Our self storage steel shipping containers are ventilated, pest-proof, weatherproof and secure, so your items are safe and sound. You can hire a container for as long or as short as you need, as our self storage costs are the same for long and short-term storage. Contact 1800 We Store It for a quick quote or professional advice about how we can solve your storage challenges today.