The idea of organizing special spaces for storing belongings was first conceived by the ancient Egyptians in the 4th century BCE. They initially started with storing food items and later developed the first warehouses for storing various goods. The entire warehouse territory was divided into specific zones with a clear emphasis on systematic organization and strict symmetry in everything.
Each compartment was marked with its individual color for quick identification of food items, weapons, or valuable belongings. Special drainage devices were installed, and ventilation systems were arranged to create the necessary storage conditions for different types of products.
As always, there is a debate about the Egyptians’ claim to priority, as the Chinese also have a legend associated with the origins of self storage. It is often heard that about 6,000 years ago, in ancient China, a brave warrior named Cian lived in the city of Cian. To commemorate his military campaigns, he kept his trophies at home, including the bones of enemies and weapons. The warrior had won enough battles, and the trophies from the battlefield accumulated to such an extent that his wife couldn’t stand it anymore and asked him to remove all the excess from the house. The warrior got offended but didn’t argue with his wife’s request. He collected his belongings, arranged them in clay pots, dug a deep pit in the field, and neatly placed the pots along the pit’s walls. This was the first self-storage made in China.
Times of popularity and periods of decline
After the ancient Egyptians and Chinese, the Romans also began engaging in warehousing. During the peak of the mighty Roman Empire, considerable attention was given to the storage of goods. This era can confidently be called the golden age of self storage or individual storage. The popularity of warehouses during this period was explained by the Roman Empire’s reputation for its trade routes, conquests, and a vast number of travelers who needed somewhere to store their belongings.
However, by 500 CE, the need for additional containers and storage spaces significantly declined. As a result, since the rental income quickly dwindled to a minimum, warehouses fell out of use for a long time. For nearly ten centuries, the world almost completely forgot about the possibility of creating public and individual storage facilities.
The first country to embark on the revival of the self storage service was… Venice. Geographically situated at the crossroads of significant trade routes spanning from Asia to Europe, the Venetian Republic actively began establishing warehouses. It was the Venetians who came up with the idea of keeping records of goods received for storage.
The baton was then passed to the English, who needed a place to store goods that were being transported or received, such as tea, groceries, spices, agricultural products, furs, and valuables. Resourceful British bankers offered storage services to wealthy gentlemen embarking on long journeys to colonial countries. Typically, these were stables where horses and carriages were left, while the upper floors housed the belongings and valuables of travelers until their return.
Afterwards, Europeans took on the task of creating warehouses, driven by the industrial revolution.
However, it was the Americans who truly developed self storage, introducing their indispensable innovations to this service.
American Self Storage
It is still believed that individual storage emerged in the United States during the time of the early settlers when one of them, P. Minuet, began setting aside space on his own property for various items from the local population. He primarily filled containers with Dutch furs brought by traders.
The first known actual self storage facility in the United States was founded by the Beckins brothers, Martin and John, in 1891 in Omaha, Nebraska. In 1906, the business of the “Bekins Van and Storage Co” expanded to California. The brothers were involved not only in storage but also in moving services. Interestingly, the company still exists to this day.
Finally, in the 1950s, the first storage facilities for individual purposes appeared.
1958 is considered the birth year of the modern self storage service, which began to spread, encompassing an increasing number of countries worldwide. It was in this year that the first self storage facility, “Lauderdale Storage,” as we know them today, opened in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Since then, not only company products or goods intended for distribution, but also various small items for individual consumption have been brought to storage facilities. Americans are highly mobile, so they constantly need a place to leave something.
According to statistics, there is slightly less than 1 square meter of additional usable space designated for storage per capita in America.
Today, the number of similar individual storage complexes in the United States exceeds 50,000 facilities with a total area of over 210 million square meters. Every 10th American uses the services of renting mini storage units and lockers.
Resourceful Americans managed to connect the storage industry with entertainment. Shows like “Storage Hunters,” “Storage Wars,” and others have gathered a multimillion audience worldwide, fueling the excitement of viewers and the interest of potential users of the service. More details about this can be found in our article “Container Wars.”
Individual Storage in Europe
Despite some medieval and later experiences, Europeans only began to appreciate the benefits of modern individual storage in the 1980s. Therefore, it can be said that the industry is still in the development stage on the Old Continent. This is influenced by the inertia and lower mobility of Europeans. It is worth noting that only six countries account for about 80% of all self-storage facilities. The unquestionable leader in storage is the United Kingdom, followed by France, Germany, Spain, and the Netherlands. Although it is unlikely that the self-storage industry in Europe will ever reach the level of the United States, the number of square meters per person is gradually increasing here, step by step.
History of Self Storage Development in Ukraine
The first individual storage units in Ukraine appeared during the times of the Soviet Union with the emergence of the first garage cooperatives. Often, families without their own cars would use garages as storage spaces for accumulating belongings. Later, these spaces started to be rented out as mini storage units. Despite being considered an anachronism and generally unreliable places, this service continues to exist. However, the first true rental of a mini storage unit or a fully equipped modern storage box for individual storage in Ukraine became possible in 2015. Rented boxes, compartments, or containers are typically located in fully isolated premises with multi-level security and 24-hour access to individual storage units. All storage units are equipped with individual lighting, fire alarms, and other civilized amenities. It is possible to rent any area from 1 square meter for any period, even a week. A contract is mandatory, and there is also the option to insure the storage unit. It is clear that this is much more reliable than a regular garage located in a cooperative with limited security.
Currently, individual storage facilities are present not only in Kyiv but also in many other Ukrainian cities. Customers can conveniently choose not only based on price but also based on the location of the storage facility. Many operators are ready to organize delivery of items and provide packaging materials and other necessary supplies on-site.
One distinctive feature of Ukrainian self storage is not only the mobility of the population but also the desire to free up apartments and balconies from unnecessary but sentimental or seasonal items. Numerous small online shops, delivery services, or startups are also interested in mini storage units. Typically, the rental price for a small storage unit is the same as the price of a small cup of coffee per day, making it affordable for different segments of the population.
Overall, the development of the individual storage service in Ukraine is at a respectable level, in line with European trends, and increasing competition contributes to improving the quality of service and customer satisfaction. The Ukrainian Association of Self Storage Companies has been created and is functioning, representing the interests of the industry’s development and consumer protection.
Are you ready to become part of this global trend and free your home from unnecessary items?
Welcome to your individual storage facility!