What’s in Storage

New self-storage centers try to set themselves apart with class.

Ho, junk, yeah? But what are you going to do with it?

With the number of new storage facilities in Hawai‘i growing to practically Starbucks proportions, more and more people are storing their stuff outside their homes. Perhaps people don’t use self storage as often as they lap their lattes, but, nationally, one in 11 households last year rented storage space, according to the Self Storage Association. This breaks down to 6.86 cubic feet for every man, woman and child in the nation. It’s a number that can only swell as new storage centers add to more than 70 facilities already on O‘ahu.

Lock Up Storage Centers plans to woo female customers with well-lit corridors and security systems. photo: courtesy of BRB Development Co.

With so many options in self storage, at least one company is trying to separate itself from the pack by aiming to provide a luxurious storing experience.

BRB Development Co., the parent company of Lock Up Storage Centers, lures customers with carpeting in hallways and rooms, easy-listening music piped through the building, and an extensive intercom system, according to Bob Soudan Jr., co-owner of BRB. Since the company’s research indicates that women make the vast number of decisions to use self storage, the buildings are designed to appeal to female senses with high-security systems, well-lit corridors and carefully chosen color schemes (white walls with muted blue carpet, if you’re wondering).

“It’s not a muffler shop,” Soudan says. “It’s more like a hotel or bank lobby. It’s nice. A lot of times when people are using self storage their life is in transition. They just got married, someone died, they’re going through a divorce. We want to make people feel as comfortable as possible.”

The company chose its locations carefully, with three new sites under construction in McCully, Pearl City and Waipahu. Instead of more industrial settings, the company sought land within one or two miles of residential areas. Women like it, he says, because they feel safe storing belongings even late at night, and everyone appreciates storage closer to home.

O‘ahu’s Lock Up Storage Centers are the newest of the company’s 25 facilities spread throughout five other states. With each new building, Soudan says, the company refines its model.

“Self storage hasn’t had the best history,” he says. “It’s had a junkyard dog image in the past, long rows of tin garages. We’ve come a long way from that.”

General manager of Hawai‘i Self Storage Daniel Ho says he isn’t too worried about the influx of new companies in the Islands. His storage facilities sport bells and whistles such as conference rooms and computers. This way, customers in transition—especially the corporate businesses accounting for about a fifth of his clientele—have a place to work. But more than that, he says commitment to customer service will keep his company’s head above the wave of incoming storage competitors.

So stuff to store? Luckily, Hawai‘i’s becoming a sight for storage eyes.