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This story was published in the Chicago Tribune and can be read here.


Most of us would rather not haul our belongings to a warehouse, pack them into a tiny cell and leave them for months or years. And yet an increasing number of Americans are doing just that.

According to market research firm IBISWorld, revenue in the self-storage industry reached $35.8 billion last year — and growth is accelerating. Especially in big cities like Chicago, where space comes at a premium, the trend isn’t going away.

Self-storage is a booming habit for all kinds of reasons. There are the typical cases: folks who can’t let go, those in the process of a home renovation, college kids who need a space to store their gear for the summer. Other situations are more sorrowful.

“You have the people who lost someone in their life and won’t part with those items,” says Greg Barrett, manager at Self Storage 1, near Wrigleyville in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood.

He says people turn to self-storage in times of distress and upheaval, such as divorce, flood or fire damage to a home. Homeless people will occasionally rent a unit to keep their property safe. A few people have even attempted to house pets in their units or sleep in them themselves, says Barrett. Both practices are illegal.

Ultimately, though, the turn to storage facilities is a cry for more space in seemingly shrinking environs.

Read the full story here

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