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The History (and Future) of Self-Storage
Posted 2/26/2015
Author Stephen Hollowell
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 The History (and Future) of Self-Storage

With the booming industry that self-storage has become today, it is hard to imagine a world without it. But self-storage is a fairly new industry, with the first facilities built as recently as fifty years ago.

With nearly $25 billion in annual revenue, self-storage is an industry that exceeds the revenue of Hollywood. The reasons behind the human need to seek out space to store all of our stuff include increased consumerism (we buy more), and the growing transient nature of Americans (we move more).

But just how we got here – to today’s world in which every single man, woman and child in the United States can fit under the shelter of our countrywide self-storage facilities – is an interesting story in itself.

The History of Self-Storage

According to Self Storage Association, it is believed that personal storage originated in England in the 19th century, when clients planning extended voyages left their valuables in the care of British banking institutions. With more and more clients seeking to stow their goods, the vaults became overcrowded, and in the 1850’s, the first warehouse specifically for the storage of household and personal items was constructed.

It All Started in Texas

This format of personal storage in outlying warehouses stayed relatively unchanged until the 1960’s, when the first modern self-storage facility was built in Corpus Christi, TX. The idea caught on, and self-storage properties began popping up all over the West Coast, throughout the US, and eventually in Canada, Australia and Europe.

Americans become accustomed to the idea of stowing away excess personal and household items – especially in the event of any major lifestyle changes, such as marriage or divorce, death, or moving to a new residence.

Self-Storage Today

Today, Texas, California and Florida lead the nation in terms of total square footage of self-storage space. The ranches and bungalows that were popular after World War II in growing populations across the United States (i.e. the Sun Belt) usually did not come with a basement, presenting a need for storage. 

In 2015, roughly one in ten American households rents a self-storage space, and the numbers are continuing to grow. It has become second nature to seek out storage when presented with the dilemma of, “What to do with all this stuff?”

Self-storage is a burgeoning industry, and there is no sign of it slowing down anytime soon. In 2014, 90 percent of all self-storage spaces across the US were occupied (an all-time record high). The outlook for 2015 predicts growth in the industry, and new developments in construction. Stay tuned to the List Self Storage Blog as we continue to cover the market…



“An Introduction to Self Storage.” Self Storage Association.

Sonne, Christian R. “Self Storage Economics.” The Appraisal Journal.  Summer 2013.

Piperato, Susan. “Top 5 Predictions for the Self-Storage Sector in 2015.” National Real Estate Investor.  Jan 14, 2015.

Vanderbilt, Tom. “Self-Storage Nation.” Slate.  July 18, 2005.

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