Around the world, people have made some interesting and novel uses of self-storage facilities. Here we consider some of the most unusual.
In Singapore, the non-profit organisation Circus Outreach conducts workshops and performances for “at-risk” young people. The group travels from one location to another, entertaining enthusiastic young audiences and teaching circus skills to disadvantaged youth.
Replacing the old-fashioned circus wagon is a self-storage unit in the Singapore district of Toa Payoh. In the unit, you’ll find everything from unicycles to colourful plastic saucers, clown costumes, spinning reels known as diabolos and balance boards, which are known as rola-bolas.
In San Francisco, California, one self-storage provider has filled a unique niche market, equipping self-storage units specifically for use by local artists and musicians.
Units designed to serve as art galleries include the same, corrugated steel shell as the company’s other storage units. However, they’re also equipped with walls and lighting ideal for showcasing local works of art, along with features like skylights and even glass french doors. Thanks to the popularity of this venture, the company now runs a total of four buildings dedicated to providing music and art spaces.
Martial arts gym
In Reading, England, a self-storage unit houses the hardcore Gods of War MMA (mixed martial arts) gym. The space features a studio area, weights, cardiovascular equipment and even a 15-foot fighting cage.
When the gym first opened, a self-storage unit was the only financially feasible alternative for its founders, Philip and Catherine Edge. As the popularity of the gym grew, it was moved into a larger, self-storage space. Today the gym has over 300 members.
Depot for prosthetic limbs
Based in Surrey, England, Limbcare is a charity that helps amputees obtain and use prosthetic limbs. The organisation was founded by Ray Edwards, himself a quadruple amputee, and Roy Wright, who lost a leg after a freak accident in a supermarket.
Children regularly outgrow prosthetic limbs, and it’s common for adults to need new ones too. One of Limbcare’s activities is collecting discarded prosthetic limbs from rehabilitation centres around England and then donating them to an organization in Tanzania, for use by those who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford them.
An initial problem was finding enough space to store the limbs. A local self-storage provider came to the rescue, with a ground-floor storage unit ideal for the organisation’s needs.
In Stockport in the United Kingdom, guitarist and music teacher Paul Bowe opened a music academy from a self-storage unit – at the time, the only affordable option. He contracted specialists to sound-proof the space and improve its acoustics, and built a recording studio on the site.
Now as many as 200 students use the academy, which also offers free music instruction to local children from low-income families.
Around the world, a number of bands have realised the benefits of self-storage units, for storing musical equipment and even, in some cases, for music practices and gigs.
In Hawaii, the rock band called Breath of Fire saved a fortune by relocating its practice sessions from an expensive studio to a storage unit. Similarly, the UK heavy metal group called Seven rehearses several times a week in a closed unit at a self-storage facility. Like other bands, it has commented on the surprisingly good acoustics offered by self-storage units.
In Southampton, England, a not-for-profit group called Re-Quip painstakingly restores old or damaged wheelchairs, using a steel self-storage unit as its workspace.
The lock-up unit is by far the most affordable option for the group, which consists entirely of disabled volunteers.
XtraSpace: self-storage in South Africa
In South Africa, the law prevents people from working full-time in self-storage units. However, increasing numbers of businesses are realising the advantages of using self-storage units as distribution depots for their goods, to house off-site data backups and file archives and to store spare office equipment and furniture.
Personal uses of self-storage in South Africa range from storing prized collections of wines, books or antiques to storing bulky sports equipment and household furniture.