‘Conversion’ generally is a big deal. It’s a big deal in sports. It’s a big deal in religion. And it’s a big deal in self storage. Like religion and sports, self storage conversions take guts and creativity. Unlike sports and religion, it’s not about physical prowess and bringing people into the fold.
In short, self storage conversion takes an existing building—ancient or modern, broken down or shiny new—and transforms it into a self storage facility.
And, in the last decade, many investors have bagged new construction—and even acquisitions—in favor of conversions.
But as it turns out there are some good reasons for converting. During the most recent economic downturn the self storage industry held its value as very few other industries did. Still, investors were hard-pressed to approve loans for new construction, leaving developers looking for existing structures to convert into self-storage facilities.
And historically conversions cost less and opened for operations more quickly than new facilities. Meaning investors saw a return on their money more quickly as well.
Amy Campbell of SelfStorageTalk.com concurs. “Conversions have advantages that many new construction projects don’t have in terms of good retail locations, easy access and, in many cases, a larger customer base―as well as less money needed than with new construction.”
As the economy improves, that model does change. Still, we can thank economically rough times for some pretty interesting building conversions. We’re not talking the obvious—an old warehouse, a grocery store perhaps, even an old gym. No, these investors saw potential in much less likely places.
Here are our top ten conversion picks .
- Bowling alley to Guardian Self Storage in Beacon, New York.
- Liquor store to Metro Storage in Brown Deer, Wisconsin.
- Sears building to Amazing Storage/Wichita Storage Holdings in Wichita, Kansas.
- Driving range to Rolling Acres Self Storage in Lady Lake, Florida.
- 90-year-old historic building into self storage by Gotham Mini Storage in New York, New York.
- Auto dealership to Metro Storage in Blaine, Minnesota.
- Toys ‘R Us to Coast-to-Coast Storage in Green Township, Ohio.
- Home improvement chain store to Menards Self Storage Center in Sheboygan, Wisconsin.
- Abundant Life Church of God to Heard Storage Inc. in Lakeland, Florida.
- The family farm to Antire-44 Haskins Storage in High Ridge, Missouri.
So, as you can see, there are a few choices if you’ve decided to invest in the profitable world of self storage (which does more than $24 billion annually, according to the Self Storage Association). Yes, you, like the Mormon missionaries, can convert. And not just the obvious choices. Consider the aforementioned options. Perhaps more neighborhoods could go without the local liquor store and yet another car dealership. Maybe we don’t need more toys for the kids nor eight hours on the golf course. Heck, while we’re at it, we may as well toss out the churches and farms. Oh wait. May want to rethink the last ones.