The roots of self-storage stretch back four decades, when crude make-shift buildings began housing the belongings of seasonal tourists and migratory workers in warmer climates, generally the sunbelt states. On the movebetween homes or between jobsthe migratory population set the trend for storage to come, despite the fact that these original storage facilities were nothing short of primitive, especially when compared with today’s options.

Back then, few, if any, considered self-storage a business with a future. Few could predict the growth that the self-storage industry would experience: from storage shacks to today’s prime storage buildings, which offer everything from simple storage needs to practical accommodations for valuables.

Eventually, storage was not only seen as a practical option for migratory folks. Clientele began to grow to include college students, antique owners, wine aficionados, commercial business ownersbasically, anyone with storage needs.

The need for storage space has also been a big concern for apartment dwellers with little closet space, and for those living in communities that don’t allow homeowners to park boats or RVs on their property. Self-storage operators have filled the needs of all the above—offering everything from small 5-by-5-foot units for people needing just a small space, up to large open units designed specifically with the boat and RV owners’ needs in mind.

In the early days, customer service in the industry was nearly non-existent. A tenant rented space, paid the rent and locked the unit. Managers collected the rent and tracked their tenants on index cards stored in a shoebox.

Today, in a highly competitive marketplace,storage units Staten Island facilities have made customer service a top priority. Managers will take potential tenants on tours of the facility, allow them to visit several different size units and coach them on what size will likely meet their storage needs. In addition, most facilities offer ancillary services—such as moving and packing supplies, truck rentals, locks, storage insurance—to make the process of moving and storing an easier one.

Today’s storage facilities cater to many markets, as well. Business owners will likely realize it’s more practical to rent storage space than to pay higher rents for storage, because square footage for office or commercial retail space is much costly than renting a unit at a storage facility around the corner. Plus, storage facilities eager to attract business and commercial tenants will often offer longer after-business access, even if the gate is closed to the general public. Also, for those with wine, art or antique collections, climate-controlled options have evolved offering regulated temperatures and humidity control.

Whatever the storage need, today’s offerings are a world apart from yesterday’s meager beginnings in self-storage. Consumers need only to shop around and seek out the self-storage facility that best suits their needs.