Storing Clutter

Uncategorized Jan 11, 2022

We can store clutter in many places. Let’s talk about one of the biggest places people store clutter,  paid storage spaces. Storage spaces are not new, they have been around since 1964 as we know them to be. Do you know when the very first storage space in the United States originated? The Bekins family who owned a moving company that had steel warehouses opened the first storage facility in 1906. In fact, Bekins moving is still around today.

Here are some interesting statistics about storage facilities:

  • there are over 50,000 self storage facilities in the U.S.
  • Average storage unit size is 90 sq ft
  • 1 in 10 people use self storage in the U.S.
  • 38 BILLION dollar industry
  • The average cost of a storage space is $91.14 according to com
  • Since 2012 there has been annual growth of 7.7%
  • Storage spaces are rented on average 10 or more years

From my perspective as a Professional Organizer I see storage spaces as a contributor to clutter. Let’s think about how many times a person actually goes to the storage space. Not many. This allows the space to become a “sign up and forget it” like the gym membership in February.

The storage space is the enabler?

One thing is for certain, this becomes a land of delayed decision making. If you don’t know what to do with it, put it in storage. Along with this is the procrastination component. It is likely the storage unit was not organized when the items were placed in there so the thought of retrieving something from the space is overwhelming.  Therefore, it becomes the dirty little secret. There aren’t many people willing to admit they have a paid storage space.  In working with a new organizing client I have learned to ask if they have a storage space because that lets me know there may be some struggles with procrastination or attachment that I will encounter. I may also find out there are some issues with shopping as well. The vicious circle is to put things in storage and then need them but can’t or won’t go to the storage facility to end up purchasing the item again. It is really difficult to keep an inventory in your head of all that lives in the storage facility. Some people really have an out of sight out of mind way of thinking.

Good Uses for storage

There are certainly good uses for keeping items at a storage facility if you own a small business and it houses inventory. This may be more cost effective than trying to rent building space.

Military moves may necessitate the need to store the family’s items in storage while they are out of country on assignment. This is the same with any career that takes people out of the country for long periods of time.

Let’s look at the longer list of reasons people are using storage spaces that are not so good.

  • Baby boomers moving to smaller places but unable to let go of their lifetime of memories in the tangible items.
  • Adult children inheriting their baby boomer parents lifetime of memories of tangible items that do not fit their lifestyle or their taste.
  • People owning more than they have room for
  • Traumatic situations that are difficult to deal with getting rid of stuff such as death and divorce

Tips to get rid of that storage space in 2022:

-Make a plan to go to the space once a week to see what you have, good to familiarize yourself with what is in the space.

-While in the space, bring home one box or bin to go through deciding what to keep, toss or donate. You may be surprised to find that a good bit of the items in storage can be thrown away or shredded as in the case of paper.

-For bigger items, reach out to family to see if they would like the items. If not, consider donating them or trying to sell them. This is a longer process! (word of caution in dealing with people who want the items, give them a deadline to get them)

-Photo and other smaller memorabilia should be rescued from storage unless you are paying for climate controlled.

-Hire an organizer to go through the process with you. It helps to have a fresh pair of eyes on the space and keeps you motivated.

For me, I would like to see less storage facilities and more of people living healthy by making decisions that can offer them freedom and more money in their pocket each month.


Darlene Illig

Organize You Inside and Out


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