Self storage is a big part of our culture. Want the proof? Well, self storage is a 38 billion industry with approximately 48,000 facilities in the United States. Some estimates put that closer to 52,000. Compare that to Starbucks, which has 15,000 U.S. locations, and McDonald’s, with its approximately 14,000 restaurants. These eateries seem to be on at least every other block, yet self storage locations greatly outnumber each.
So, it’s only natural for storage facilities to appear in the media. Let’s look at some shows and movies where it has played at small, or large, part.
We’ll start with television programs about our industry.
Shows about self storage auctions have been popular in the past decade. It’s fun to think that, like the stars of these programs, we could purchase a storage unit and find treasures, too. “Auction Hunters” ran from 2010 to 2015. Clinton “Ton” Jones and Allen Haff traveled the U.S. bidding on storage units and sharing their expertise. “Storage Wars” started in 2010 and is still going.
“Storage Hoarders,” while about self storage, gets away from the auction show model. Instead, this UK series, which ran from 20122 to 2013, challenged tenants to sort through their things and sell, donate, or throw out what they didn’t need.
Television programs and movies don’t always give the best impression of self storage. Just keep in mind that these depictions are fictional. We still enjoy seeing our industry represented in popular culture.
In the “Big Bang Theory” episode, “The Solder Excursion Diversion” in season 19, we learn that Sheldon Cooper never throws out his belongings. Instead, he keeps them in a large and storage unit. Tenants take note: Sheldon’s unit is well-organized and probably climate-controlled. He’s storing the right way.
Storage facilities have even appeared in cartoons. In the season 3 episode of “Bob’s Burgers,” “Bob Rest Ye Merry Gentle-Mannequins,” the family inherits the contents of a dead relative’s storage unit.
One of the most popular and well-reviewed shows of all time, “Breaking Bad,” featured self storage in season 5. On “Gliding Over All,” Skyler showed Walt a huge pile of laundered money in a small unit. While keeping money in a unit isn’t prohibited, and storage facilities are generally very safe, that’s what banks are for.
One season 4 episode of “Girls,” “Sit-in,” shows Hannah sleeping in her storage unit after her ex moved all her stuff into it. Don’t follow her example. She may have been in a tough spot, but you should never sleep in a storage unit.
A show about identity, clones, and nature versus nurture, “Orphan Black,” featured self storage in the season 2 episode, "To Hound Nature in Her Wanderings." One of the clones is living in a storage unit, again something we discourage, but this is fiction.
Some facilities allow special uses of units. In the season 1 episode of “True Detective,” “After You've Gone" Matthew McConaughey’s character, Rust Cohle, uses a storage unit as a base to solve a murder.
Rust Cohle, played by Matthew McConaughey in the haunting first season of HBO’s True Detective, puts a new spin on the occasional crime connection to storage units: he uses his self storage unit as a home base for solving the decade-old murder of Dora Lange, and to seek out the elusive “Yellow King”.
Storage units have been featured in a number of movies, including B horror films like “Self Storage,” “Blood Shed,” and “The Hoarder.” More mainstream films include “Monster,” “Silence of the Lambs,” and “Younger and Younger.”
We’d like to highlight our two favorites, however.Remember the scene in “Avengers: Endgame” in which a mouse saves the universe? Of course, you do. It happened early in the movie when a mouse walked across a control panel in the old van belonging to Scott Lang, aka Ant-Man, and freed him from the Quantum Realm. It was Lang’s idea to use the quantum realm to travel in time to retrieve the Infinity Stones. That van was in a run-down storage facility.
In the indie film “Primer,” a pair of entrepreneurs install time machines in a storage unit and use them to live their days twice for monetary gain. This is an especially smart film that you’ll want to watch at least twice.
As our industry continues to grow, you’re sure to see storage units and facilities appear in more media. Remember, like anything, fiction doesn’t always portray the facts, so enjoy, but don’t assume everything you see is accurate.