The Origin of Modern Self Storage Facilities

Posted on 12 October 2023 | 4 minute read

modern self storage

Self storage units are a worldwide phenomenon, with home and business owners adopting the strategy as the perfect solution for storing excess items. Furniture, clothing, leisure vehicles, office equipment and document archives are all getting safely stored in secure storage across the globe, but how did it all start?

The Earliest History of Self Storage

The earliest examples of personal storage go back to Ancient China, where they used large ceramic pots to keep personal possessions safe from the elements. The pots were used to hold the items, but they were often stored underground in what could be the first examples of long-term storage facilities.

We also have many specimens of Ancient Egyptians crafting ornate wooden boxes to store weapons, clothing, and tools. However, archaeological evidence suggests that most Ancient Egyptian large-scale storage solutions were used for food and wine rather than personal items and furniture.

The British Aristocracy developed a need for self-storage after acquiring a taste for travel, which would take them from their homes for months at a time. Rather than leave their belongings untended for long stretches, the wealthy turned to the banks. The banks would secure small personal items and money in their vaults but hired out stables for larger items.

The Beginning of Modern Self-Storage Units

A Dutch immigrant named Martin Bekin is credited with developing the first self-storage warehouse business. His business model revolved around immigrants arriving in America who needed a secure place to store items while settling into their new lives.

Modern self-storage, modelled after Bekin’s early strategy, started to arrive in earnest in 1960s America, but it took another 20 years for the concept to take off in the UK. The first self-storage facilities in the US and UK were not much more than converted garages and private buildings renovated into personal storage units.

However, the business evolved when storage entrepreneurs realised that purpose-built storage units were an excellent use for otherwise undesirable land.

As commercial rental prices rose in urban areas, business storage became a viable, affordable solution for controlling expenses. Rather than pay exorbitant prices for extra storage space in the city, savvy business owners could hold much of their stock in cheaper self-storage units just out of town. The inconvenience of travelling to restock was offset by the significant savings they gained in reduced rent.

Modern Self Storage Trends

The first self-storage businesses targeted removal companies, which would use the space to keep household items for their customers during their moves. However, as markets do, the self-storage industry has evolved dramatically from its early days. Storage companies now cater to a diverse demographic of removalists, business owners, homeowners and renters.

According to data from the Self Storage Association of Australasia (SSAA), in 2021, there were approximately 2060 self storage facilities across Australia and New Zealand, totalling more than 6 million square metres of storage space and catering to around half a million customers.

The supply rate, which measures floor space in square feet per capita (feet being used to keep in line with international comparisons), was 2.11 in 2021, a rise of 0.07 sq ft from 2020’s figure of 2.04. Annual turnover for the storage industry in Australia and New Zealand is estimated to be more than $1.5 billion.

As traditionally large Australian yards continue to shrink due to urbanisation, the need for self-storage will keep rising. The industry will continue to adapt and evolve in response to customer’s needs.

Modern storage

Modern Storage Solutions From 1800 We Store It

Traditional storage units are an excellent solution for many Melbourne residents and businesses, but sometimes more flexible options are necessary. For example, when moving homes, traditional storage units present more challenges than they solve.

Yes, homeowners have somewhere to store their belongings while waiting to take possession of their new home, but transporting items to and from the facility can be challenging because it requires a lot of double-handling.

1800 We Store It offers an alternative with its mobile storage container service. The containers, available from 6ft units to 20ft steel shipping containers, are mobile and delivered to your premises.

Business owners, homeowners, and renters can pack the container, taking as long as needed and saving time and money because they are not loading and unloading trucks and travelling to a unit across town.

The steel containers are tough, durable, weatherproof, and have secure padlocks. These features make them as secure as any storage facility; especially if customers opt to have the full container stored at one of 1800 We Store It’s secure self storage facilities.

If you are looking for a convenient, affordable storage service, call 1800 We Store It to find out more. We offer quick quotes and fast delivery so you can get your storage needs sorted ASAP.