According to Wikipedia, Consumerism is “the equation of personal happiness with consumption and the purchase of material possessions.”
It is this phenomenon with which Commonwealth Centre Parkway’s Space Mart Self Storage Facility Manager John Poss credits the tortoise-like growth of the self-storage market in Chesterfield County, Virginia.
“I would consider [Chesterfield] a very saturated market right here. I probably have 4-5 competitors within 10 miles,” says Poss. “It’s a very healthy [business] environment… [The economic downturn] “hasn’t hurt us. We haven’t felt a lot of the crunch that retail and some of the other industries have felt.” (http://www.chesterfieldobserver.com/news/2009-1104/Front_Page/Consumerism_drives_opening_of_more_selfstorage_fac.html.)
Poss attributes some of the growth to the current real estate slump as well. “With some of the way the housing market’s going, we have some tenants who are downsizing from a 3-bedroom home to a 1-bedroom apartment,” said Poss, “at least temporarily, they need somewhere to store their extra belongings.” (http://www.chesterfieldobserver.com/news/2009-11-04/Front_Page/Consumerism_drives_opening_of_more_selfstorage_fac.html.)
Nationally and locally, commercial or “business” clientele is roughly 15-25% of the self storage business, with residential customers comprising the balance.
According to the November 4 post on the chesterfieldobserver.com, there are nearly 1100 self-storage facilities across the state of Virginia. The not-for-profit Self Storage Association (SSA), which represents more than 6000 U.S. member companies, states that the U.S. self storage industry is comprised of more than 52,000 facilities, and, in 2008 alone, the SSA’s figures reflect total sales for the industry exceeding $20 billion.
Vice President of Communications and Government Relations for the Alexandria, VA-based National Self Storage Association Timothy J. Dietz, said that despite Chesterfield County “being in the black”, self storage growth nationally has remained relatively flat. Dietz commented that the self-storage industry is “recession-resistant, but not recession-proof.” (http://www.chesterfieldobserver.com/news/2009-11-04/Front_Page/Consumerism_drives_opening_of_more_selfstorage_fac.html.)
Self storage units can vary in size from space as small as a walk-in closet, to a unit large enough to store the contents of a 4-bedroom home. (The average U.S. self storage facility has approximately 42,000 square feet of rentable space, according to the SSA.)
Chesterfield County has 1.3 million square feet of storage space to offer its customers; that breaks down to 4.63 square feet of storage per county citizen, which, according to Dietz, is not far from the national average. “Every man, woman and child in the country could have about 7 feet of storage space…if we could get under those roofs when it was raining, we’d all be dry,” waxed Dietz. (http://www.chesterfieldobserver.com/news/2009-11-04/Front_Page/Consumerism_drives_opening_of_more_selfstorage_fac.html.)