Tag - Top 10

What Are the Top 10 Largest Self Storage Companies in the U.S.?

Self Storage Companies

Although small, independent storage companies exist across the country, a handful of major chains dominate the industry. These chains have facilities in several states and have enough room to hold a substantial amount of stored items. It pays to keep track of the “big players” in the storage business as they often have the largest auctions and the most units to choose from. Here are the top 10 storage companies in the country, ranked by overall square footage across their facilities:

1.) Public Storage Inc. This California-based company has 2,064 storage facilities in 38 states as well as locations in Europe. The company first opened its doors in 1972, and now it provides 142 million square feet of storage space to its customers. Storage units range from small lockers to 10 x 30 foot units and parking spaces for RV's and boats. In addition to offering storage spaces, it provides some basic moving supplies such as boxes and tape. Each Public Storage facility usually has an auction once a month.

2.) Extra Space Storage. This company's headquarters are in Salt Lake City, Utah. It operates in 35 states, with a total of 882 facilities containing 585,000 units altogether. The company has been in business for more than 30 years. In addition to storage units and lockers, ESS facilities include parking spaces for boats and vehicles. Extra Space Storage maintains a blog on its company website that provides information about the storage industry, including information for auction-hunters. The company's various facilities have auctions on a monthly basis.

3.) U-Haul International Inc. Perhaps better known for its truck rental service, U-Haul is a household name among people looking to move and store their personal belongings. The company's headquarters are located in Phoenix, Arizona, and it maintains 1,144 facilities across the country in all 50 states. In addition to the storage lockers housed on U-Haul premises, the company also stores “U-Pack” containers. These are customer-packed shipping containers that can be stored at the facility. Not every U-Haul location offers storage, but those that do will generally have auctions on a monthly or as-needed basis.

4.) CubeSmart. This company was founded in 2004 in Wayne, Pennsylvania and has already expanded to include 477 storage facilities in 28 states. Altogether, the company owns more than 31 million square feet of storage space across the country. CubeSmart offers different storage options for students, military personnel and more; it also provides vehicle storage and commercial storage spaces for businesses. Units range in size from 5x5' to 10x30'. The company has a storage listing on its website that provides details of upcoming storage auctions at each of its facilities.

5.) Sovran Self Storage Inc. Sovran is also known as Uncle Bob's, and the company has been in business since 1984. The company is based in Buffalo, New York and maintains 451 storage facilities across 26 states. In addition to private and commercial storage, the company also offers truck rentals and vehicle storage. Facilities hold auctions on an as-needed basis.

6.) Derrel's Mini Storage Inc. This company is based in Fresno, California, where it was founded in 1963. It is a major self-storage company in California, with 53 locations between Bakersfield and Sacramento. There are no facilities currently operating outside of California, but the company does have plans to expand. The company handles all of its auctions through Whittemore Auction Service, and details about upcoming auctions can be found on the auctioneer's website.

7.) Strategic Capital Holdings LLC. More commonly known as Smart Stop Self-Storage, this company has 120 facilities in 17 states. It was founded in 2004 and is now actively expanding throughout the U.S. and Canada; it is aggressively seeking more property to acquire as it grows its business. The company offers both personal and commercial storage as well as vehicle storage. The Smart Stop website offers a listing of all upcoming storage auctions for its facilities, updated on a weekly basis.

8.) Storage Mart. Based in Columbia, Maryland, Storage Mart has 132 facilities in 15 states. It is currently working on spreading and growing its business. Storage Mart has been in business since 1974 and is an active participant in local communities and charitable causes in every state it does business in, including offering a scholarship program for students. Auctions occur on an as-needed basis and are published in local media.

9.) Simply Self Storage. This company is headquartered in Orlando, Florida, and has facilities in 16 states. Overall, there are 116 facilities owned by this company, and an additional 20 properties have recently been purchased for expansion. Storage units vary from 5x5' to 10x30', and vehicle storage spaces are available for cars, RV's and boats as well. The company's website does provide auction information for its facilities.

10.) Platinum Storage Group. Located in Laguna Hills, California, this business manages 106 facilities in 15 states. It's more commonly known by its trademark name, Storage Direct, and has been in business since 2000. In addition to both climate-controlled and non-climate-controlled storage for individuals and businesses, it also offers covered and uncovered vehicle storage. Storage Direct holds auctions at local facilities monthly or on an as-needed basis.

As you get more familiar with the storage facilities in your area, experience will teach you which are the most valuable. Until then, this list can help guide you toward the biggest and best storage companies in the country.

The Top 10 Mistakes Newcomers Make At Storage Auctions

Storage Auction Mistakes

1. Overpay Just To Buy A Unit

If you're new to the storage auction scene, don't be in any rush to get your first unit. You have to wait for the right unit to come along at the right price. It will happen. I know you're eager to get your feet wet, but the object of the game is to make money. Just be patient and you will find a bargain.

2. Buy A Unit Too Large To Remove Merchandise Within 48 Hours

When you buy a storage unit at auction, you have to have it totally cleaned out and broom swept within 48 hours. A lot of newcomers will purchase a large unit not realizing how much work it is to clean out. Keep in mind that some units contain heavy items like furniture and appliances that require some muscle to move. It is a good idea to have a truck and labor lined up in advance, especially if you plan to buy multiple units.

3. Keep Ego In Check

When you're bidding on a unit, try to keep your emotions in check. Some people who are new in the business are trying to make a name for themselves from the beginning by getting into a bidding war or trying to run others up. If you're going to be a successful buyer, you must know when to let the unit go. If it doesn't make sense, don't buy it. Some new buyers even overbid to let others know that they have money. This isn't a good idea because no matter how much money you have, there will always be someone else with deeper pockets. I personally know a multi-millionaire that attends storage auctions just for fun.

4. Bid To Find Hidden Treasures

This is a common mistake newcomers make. They've seen the storage auction reality shows and they think there is an expensive item hidden inside every unit. Well, I have news for them. Most units contain common household items, appliances and furniture. If they pay hundreds or thousands more for a unit on the hope that the unit contains hidden treasure, they won't be in this business for long.

5. Not Having A Resale Strategy

Some new buyers buy a unit without having a plan to sell the contents. Possible outlets are garage sales, setting up a booth at a flea market or selling the items online. Either way, it's a lot of work. The key to making a profit in this business is turning over your inventory as soon as you can. Unless you have an unlimited supply of cash, you will need get your money back quickly, so you can reinvest it in more storage units.

6. Not Enough Cash On Hand

If you have a good amount of cash, by all means bring it. Nothing hurts worse than missing out on a great unit because you didn't bring enough money with you. Remember, most auctioneers will not allow you to go to the ATM after the auction is over, so if you don't have enough cash in your pocket, do not bid on the unit.

7. Buy Junk Storage Units

A junk unit can put a bad taste in your mouth for the storage auction business. If the unit looks like it contains a lot of trash or worthless items, it is a good idea to avoid it. It takes a lot of time and energy to clean out a unit, especially ones that are unorganized and contain a lot of trash. Focus on units that are fairly organized and show signs of quality merchandise.

8. Did Not Clean Out Unit Entirely

Some newcomers buy a unit that they are unprepared to move. They start their excavation only to realize that the unit isn't what they thought is was. If the unit contains a lot of unsellable items and trash, you might feel like giving up and just leaving the bad stuff behind. This is one of the easiest ways of getting banned from future auctions. Even if the unit turns out to be a complete bust, you have to dispose of it properly. The contents of the unit must be completely removed and the unit needs to be broom swept. Most storage facilities will not allow you to use their dumpsters so I recommend that you locate a dump in your area. Believe me when I say you will need it.

9. Did Not Bring Necessary Supplies

I see a lot of newcomers who don't even have a flashlight with them. Most storage units do not have lights in them and it can be quite difficult to see the contents. If you don't already have one, make sure you invest in a rechargeable flashlight. The other essential is having multiple padlocks on your person. At my buying peak, I usually kept at least three locks on my belt loop and another 7-10 locks in my vehicle. Tip: Buy padlocks that are keyed the same or color code your locks and keys. Nothing is more frustrating than trying to locate the right key for the lock while the auctioneer is moving on to the next unit.

10. Stereotyping Storage Facilities Based Upon The Area

Some people try to profile an auction based upon the area that the storage facility is located in. Let me start off by saying that some of the best units I have ever bought were in rough neighborhoods and I got the units dirt cheap. If you only attend auctions in nice areas, you will be missing out on some great bargains.

Do you know of any other common mistakes newcomers make at storage auctions?

If you would like to add them to this list, please leave your interesting and creative responses in the comments section below.