Hummel column: Hairs salons, Mexican restaurants and storage units

Lynn Hummel column mug
Lynn Hummel

I walked past this lot where there were bulldozers and other construction equipment leveling the lot in what looked like the preparation for a building project. A worker walked by and I stopped him and asked what was going on there. He said the lot was being leveled for a storage unit project.

With my tongue in cheek I said, “I guess we have a shortage of storage units.”

He said, “Yes, a shortage of storage units as well as hair salons and Mexican restaurants.”

Then he chuckled at his own joke.

We both knew it was a joke because on the lot just next door were three new steel storage buildings with 80 units of storage space the size of your garage. The units under construction may be owned by the same owner as the ones already there or a new competitor. Probably doesn’t matter because there must be a growing demand for rental storage space.


We didn’t mention it, but about a mile away from where we were standing is a series of larger storage buildings, some still being built. These are not for rent, they’re for sale and they’re called storage condos. These have doors 14 to 20 feet wide and they vary in length from 40 to 72 feet. There must be about 30 or more of them. The cluster comes with an “exclusive” clubhouse and a members’ only work bay.

Just to complete the market picture before we ask the question of the day, about a dozen miles from town, out in the country, where you drive over the hill, you will see a huge settlement of storage buildings for rent, so many that it looks like a herd of buffalo grazing in the valley.

They’re the size of big truck garages and storage buildings. Some almost big enough for a hockey arena. There must be 40 of them. One row of buildings is on a street marked “TOY BOX LANE.” So here is the question of the day. Why are there so many units, all almost new, and even more interesting − what’s going to go in them?

The smaller ones, the one garage size, will handle the items you would store in an extra garage: your snowmobile, your jet ski, your fishing boat, your lawnmower, and yard equipment, your antique collector car, surplus furniture, a shop, plus surplus shop equipment or your other surplus stuff – no room enough in your regular garages. Note that homes being built these days almost all have two garage spaces and many of them three.

The huge spaces are another puzzle. If I had a yacht that had to come out of the water for the winter season, one of those huge buildings would be about the right size. Or maybe the right size for two big pontoon boats or a couple of large sailboats. Or enough for an out-of-season semi-tractor and trailer.

Or if you had an army tank or fire truck, one of those enormous buildings would suit your needs. I can imagine that the farmers with gigantic tractors, combines and other farm equipment may find it more economical to rent or buy a big storage space than to build one. But the need for all those huge buildings is mindboggling.

Do owners really own that much stuff? You know the old expression – “whoever ends up with the most toys is the winner.” No fooling. Is a huge storage shed full of toys or other possessions winning? Chief Sitting Bull was quoted as saying, “The love of possessions is the disease among them (white people).”

There are people who despise possessions and call themselves “minimalists.” It appears their idea has never caught on.

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