As first posted on Richmond (VA)’s timesdispatch.com on October 19, the sign pronouncing the nondescript beige building on Chamberlayne Avenue, AAAA Chamberlayne Storage, is a bit of a misnomer.
From a distance, this warehouse looks like any other in Everytown, USA. However, under closer scrutiny, you will find a nearly 60-year-old building that has been gutted and renovated by its owners, brothers David and Tom Kern, with 500 storage units inside the 77,000-square foot building that opened 10 days ago. Yet these siblings have not limited their new space to storage alone.
“We wanted to do something a little different” than offering a place for people to store their belongings, said Tom Kern, the older of the two brothers.
And they mean business – literally. The brothers have added a business center with computers, office chairs, and even gourmet coffee. The building is wired for Wi-Fi, with carpeted hallways. High-backed chairs surround a large conference table in a glassed-in, “boardroom-esque” conference room.
Just beyond the lobby, storage units run the length to one side; private offices line the other side.
The Kerns said that the combo office/storage concept was something they had seen in larger cities throughout the United States (including Philadelphia and Chicago.)
These Chamberlayne Avenue storage units are rented primarily by people moving to or from homes and apartments or getting divorces; some of the businesses use their storage facilities to store records.
And the convenient business services are for those starting out, including those who have lost a job and are looking to start a business.
“There are some people who are looking to start a business or hang up a shingle who just can’t afford to lease 15,000 square feet, but they also don’t want to work from home,” David Kern said. “This is a good place for them to start.”
An office (including an optional storage area), is roughly $400 per month.
“We see this as sort of an incubator,” David Kern said. “A company can get its start here and then grow to the point where they move to a bigger space.”