Valet storage is a new trend in the self-storage industry. We’re all familiar with the traditional storage model, where customers bring their belongings to a facility, rent a storage space, and then load the unit themselves. Most people have also heard of mobile storage, which involves a company bringing a large storage container to a customer’s property. The container is the storage unit, but the customer loads it at home. The storage company then takes that pod either to their facility for long-term storage, or to a customer’s new home, facilitating a big move.
The new valet storage business model both competes with the two older types of storage and fills an important new niche that had previously gone overlooked. Imagine you have a small closet with boxes full of valuable Christmas ornaments. You want to clear out the closet for clothes, but have nowhere to put your ornaments, which you need just once per year. A traditional storage unit, even a 5x5, would be too much room for your things. You need only three or four good sized boxes. That’s exactly what valet storage is for.
Typically, the valet storage company will bring the storage boxes to your home. You load them, write down what is in each, and take pictures of the contents of each box, too. Then, the company returns, gets the boxes, and stores them in their secure facility. When you need items from a box, you call the company and arrange a drop-off. Since you’re not using much space, you don’t pay much, though in general you do pay for the drop-off service.
In a way, valet storage isn’t really self-storage at all. All you do is pack your boxes, and the company takes care of delivery, pick-up, and warehousing your items until you need them again.
Valet Storage On The Rise
While valet storage isn’t the same as self-storage, it clearly presents a lot of competition. Storrage Inc. released the results of a survey about valet storage. The results are compelling, to say the least, and signal one major way our industry is changing. The study found that 50% of all women, millennials, and urban dwellers preferred the idea of valet storage over self-storage. Among those who had never used self-storage, 65% said they would choose valet storage, and 68% of those said they would use vale storage because of the convenience.
This growing market is becoming popular in countries outside the USA, including Australia, Hong Kong, China, and Japan. Let’s examine some of the new crop of valet storage companies and what each offers.
Valet Company Roundup
This chart shows the most important information about the most prominent valet storage companies. Still, let’s demystify it a bit.
Click here to see a large version of the above graphic.
Each company serves very specific areas, and many areas of the world have no coverage at all. If you’re lucky enough to live in an area with local valet storage, you’re going to have the most convenience and the best delivery prices, usually a flat fee for any number of boxes returned.
At a glance, storage with SpaceBox and Boxful may seem very expensive, but keep in mind that one Hong Kong Dollar ($HK) is worth about $0.13 $US. So, the price to store a regular sized box with either of those companies would come to about $6.32, and their delivery service is free. With living space at a premium in Hong Kong and the demand for storage space, these are excellent prices. Each has climate control, a necessity due to the local weather.
United States and Canada
MakeSpace and MakeSpace Air are two parts of the same company, the first being the local MakeSpace service, the second being their long distance service for customers out of the New York City, Washington D.C., and Chicago areas. To make their long distance service more affordable, the price of delivery starts at $21 per box, but $1 is subtracted that for every month our box is in storage. So, if you had 100 boxes in storage for 21 months, the delivery to your door would be free.
Located in San Francisco, the California Bay Area and New York City, Boxbee’s facilities are climate controlled and their boxes are water resistant.
Dorm2Dorm is different from the other companies on this chart. Its focus is on helping college students store living items from their dorm rooms over the summer or when studying overseas. This saves students the need to bring everything back to their parents’ homes over the summer, or to haul everything to a self-storage facility. As such, their initial drop-off fees reflect a preference for students moving at the end of the school year and for those who live on campus or very close by.
While Dbox’s pricing is comparable to other U.S. and Canadian companies, it offers discounts for those storing 15 boxes or more. New England’s Box Butler has very reasonable storage prices, but their minimum storage commitment is six months, meaning you may end up paying more, anyway. HaulBox’s biggest advantage is that box storage is reasonable at $8 per month, and retrieval is extremely cheap, at $10 for the first box plus $2 per each additional box.
Clutter is different in that this company goes strictly by space, not by boxes. Customers first decide how much room they will need: a 5’x5’x4’ area, or a 9’x9’x4’ area. That’s length by width by height. The customer then measures out this amount of space on the floor and puts things into that area. Clutter will then send a worker to load the items into a truck and bring them to their facility. The company expects this to take an hour or less, and the labor is free. Clutter operates in the greater Los Angeles and San Francisco areas, including Oakland, Berkeley, and San Jose.
Florida has StowSimple, an expanding valet storage company with service in Brickell, Greater Downtown Miami, Key Biscayne, Miami Beach, Coconut Grove, and Coral Gables. Their prices are reasonable, and their plastic storage bins are on the larger side.
The Chicago-based company Stora is a very affordable option for people in the area. There is no minimum fee, so you can store just one box if you like. Storage per box is just $5.00 per month and $15.00 for oversized items. The delivery price is just $25.00 for any number of boxes.
Boxly covers Melbourne, Australia, and plans to expand into other Australian and New Zealand cities, and has extremely reasonable prices.
StoreMore started in 2013 before the large proliferation of valet storage companies worldwide that we’re seeing now. As such, it helped to pioneer some of the ideas used by other companies in the industry, yet still has its own particulars. For example, while you can have StoreMore pick up and deliver your boxes, you can also drop your boxes off at their facility, or go there to pick them up. In fact, if you go there to pick up a box, you don’t pay the delivery price. For safety reasons, customers also need to provide StoreMore with an signed inventory form specifying what is in each box.
Based out of Essex, England, The Storage Service provides Valley storage for residents of London. He uses the basic model the most other Valley storage companies use: free boxes and pick up affordable delivery, and affordable per box storage. Stored items. He returned to you within 24 hours of your order. Deliveries and pickups are made between 7 AM and 3 PM, Monday through Friday.
A Stronger Industry
Valet storage shows what great innovation is possible in the self-storage industry. A need arose for urban customers to store possessions without going to a storage facility, and the industry came up with a solution to meet that need.
How do you decide whether to use traditional self-storage, mobile storage, or valet storage? You look at the convenience and price of each possibility. For several boxes worth of items that you don’t need frequently, valet storage is probably the best way to go. You would pay an average of about $7.50 per month per box, and between $10 and $30 to have it delivered to your home when you need it. Once you have eight boxes or more to store, if you don’t mind driving to drop off and pick up your boxes in a unit, start comparing valet prices to self-storage. For a 5’x5’ unit, prices can run anywhere from $50 to $130 per month. Once you have enough boxes and large items, this can really save over valet. Mobile storage prices run about the same as self-storage. However, they include a delivery fee, even for the first delivery, that can range from $99 to over $200.
While this new paradigm does offer competition to the standard model of self-storage, it also offers an opportunity for existing companies to expand into valet storage or partner with these emerging businesses. Owners may also consider joining StoreLocal, the first national storage co-op. Overall, their emergence gives customers new options, brings more awareness to self-storage, and grows the industry.