Safely Storing Artwork

If I asked you how to wrap a painting to keep it safe for long-term storage, what would you say? Years ago, I would have said wrap it with Saran Wrap and make sure not to put anything pointy or heavy near it. However, did you know that Saran Wrap can create mold over time? It traps moisture and, with the humid environment, will mold any good acrylic or oil painting unless there are slits for the painting to breathe. Before storing any artwork, be sure you know what you are doing!

Climate Controlled

First and foremost, only store artwork in a climate controlled unit. Ideal humidity is between 40-50% and should not fluctuate more than 5% within any 24-hour period. The temperature should maintain 70-76° Fahrenheit. Rapid changes in temperature or humidity can cause the artwork to expand or contract, so stability is crucial for lasting storage.

Acid Free Dividers

Handle paintings and drawings with cotton gloves to avoid staining them with the oil from your hands. Keep the artwork upright and off the ground—preferably stored like books on a bookshelf. You can put paintings in cardboard boxes to protect them since cardboard is more breathable than plastic. If you have them close together, separate them with acid-free tissue paper or acid-free foam core. Many professionals use crescent board to separate artwork when transporting them over long distances. If you decide to keep the artwork in its frame, check that the backing is acid-free. If it is not, the back will age more quickly than the artwork and will stain the back of the painting. The key is to make sure it is acid free and breathable.

Don't Forget

Oil Paintings: Oil paintings can take up to a year to dry. Don't wrap or store them until you are positive the paint has had sufficient time to harden. If you are ever in doubt, seek professional advice. 

Cleaning: You should clean the artwork before storing it, and microfiber cloths are the best for this process. The frames should also be cleaned with wood or metal polish to help repel dust particles. 

No Tubes: Paper has memory, so avoid storing photos or flat artwork in tubes. It is better to have them flat with acid-free foam core or tissue paper between them. 

Avoid Walls: Consider keeping your artwork away from the storage unit walls. If the unit next door spills liquid or has bugs, your artwork will be at risk.


"How To Store Your Art Collection Like and Expert." Artwork Archive.

Sara Estes. "Burning Questions: What's the Best Way to Store a Painting Long-Term?" Burnaway: The Voice of Art in the South. May 16, 2016.

"How to Store your Unframed Art." FrameWorks: Custom Picture Framing & Gallery. July 13, 2016.

Combatting Unpredictable Facility Costs

How to Combat Unpredictable Facility Costs

It's amazing how quickly unexpected costs wrack up when you are running a storage business.1 Just think how much you spend a year on repairs, maintenance, and property taxes alone. Offering ancillary products and services are an easy way to bring in some extra revenue and, at the same time, build rapport with your tenants.

What to Sell

When deciding what to sell, consider the needs of your community and your tenants. For instance, if your facility is for boat and RV storage, you might consider selling RV antifreeze, fifth-wheel locks, bug repellent, sunscreen, and cleaning supplies.2 If your facility has regular storage units, you might sell locks, boxes, tape, labels, permanent markers, mattress covers, and bubble wrap.3 Many storage facilities are located on the outskirts of towns. If your city has frequent tourists, you could provide maps, clean bathrooms, and water. 

Accommodating to Small or No Office Space

If you have a small office space, perhaps consider a portable wrack. The company Chateau sells a 5'x3' store on wheels that can fit in a small corner. The "store" includes basic storage packing supplies such as boxes, tape, locks, labels, and box cutters.4 If you don't have enough space for a cart, you can always create a slat wall—a fairly cheap wall board with hooks from which supplies hang. If you are really strapped for space, you can hang posters advertising products for sale while keeping the products in an empty unit and only pulling them out if someone is interested in buying. 

If you don't have a physical address, you can advertise additional services with posters. If you want to sell products, you can always keep them in an empty storage unit or even a truck. If selling products is not something you are interested in, or if you do not have an on-site manager, you could consider offering other services like truck rentals (see below).

How Much to Buy/Where to Buy

Too many choices can reduce sales,5 so limit your supply options. Ten box sizes, fifteen marker colors, and nine types of locks will only overwhelm your tenants. You might consider creating a generic combo package with boxes, tape, markers, and a lock for a set price. Whatever you sell, make sure to label the prices clearly, even just on a poster board. 

When it comes to purchasing supplies, don't start out with too much. Test the water first to see what people will actually buy (you might be surprised). That being said, if you are running low on a product, be sure to buy more! Your products should be high-quality. It may be more expensive for your customers, but they will appreciate a sturdy box over a flimsy one even if it costs a few extra dollars. By law, you have a right to sell something you previously purchased (which is why you can legally hold yard sales),6 but be sure you aren't violating any trademark laws by selling a brand product without the manufacturer's permission.  You can sell the product, but you can't sell a brand or logo without permission.7 To be safe, consider purchasing from retail suppliers, a few of which I'll list below.

Chateau Products Inc.

Boxes Boxes Boxes

Supply Side USA

For Other Suppliers: Click Here

How Much to Charge

On average, facilities mark up the price at least 100% (double the original price).5 It may seem expensive, but remember your customers will appreciate both quality and convenience. That being said, keep in mind the proximity of supercenters such as Walmart or Target. If you are charging $10 for a marker, but Walmart across the street offers it for $5, you won't have very many sells unless you drop your price within a competitive range. 

Other Services

There are myriad other services you can offer besides just retail: truck rentals, record storage, mailing/shipping, and wine storage. I'll cover just the first two below.

Truck Rentals8
Storage facilities and moving trucks marry quite well since most tenants need a truck to transport property to their units. Most facilities offer their trucks to new tenants free of charge under certain conditions. For example, you could charge for mileage over a certain distance, or you could charge an hourly rate beyond an allotted time frame. Many facilities include a fee if the customer forgot to fill the truck with gas, and others rent advertising space on the truck's back door, dividing it into four or six sections and charging $100 for each.

Another great way to earn extra cash with a truck is by partnering with assisted-living centers and senior-living communities. You could offer a mini-move program with an hourly rate of $100. If you are interested in truck rentals, On The Move Inc. offers a complete rental program which includes a vehicle, insurance/license, truck graphics, and all products. For more options, click here.

Record Storage
I highlight this section because record storage is a fantastic source of revenue. Despite this digital age, many businesses including hospitals, law offices, medical offices, hotels, auto dealers, and engineering firms still store physical records. You can split up a unit for record storage and charge either per meter or per box. You will be shocked at how many businesses need a place to store records, and the nice thing is it is a long-term contract with steady annuity.  Contact Cary F. McGovern for further advice if you have any questions about record storage. Cary has been in the business for about 40 years and offers free consultations: 504-669-0559 or

Is it Legal?

The US Supreme Court upholds what is called the "First Sale Doctrine" which means once a physical object is sold, the original owner no longer holds any rights over the item.6 So, if you buy something, you have the right to re-sell that product. That being said, here are a few caveats to keep in mind:

First: If the product you are selling has a trademark (logo), you need the manufacturer's permission to sell the product with their trademark. Without permission, you run the risk of a trademark infringement lawsuit.

Second: You need to be aware of sales tax laws and if your state requires them on retail items. If your state does require taxes, you may also need to get a reseller's permit.

Third: This goes without being said but any warranties you received when you bought the product will not extend to the new owner once you sell the item. If the product is faulty, the responsibility rests on your shoulders. 


1. Rick Beal. "Stifling the Flow of Facility Expenditures: A guide to tracking and cutting costs." Inside Self-Storage, February 2017, 18-19.

2. Jon Fesmire. "Exploring Ancillary Profit Centers: Opportunities to bring in more money." Inside Self-Storage, February 2017, 28.

3. Krista Diamond. "Cruising Toward Profit with Boat/RV Storage: Providing space as well as related amenities and products." Inside Self-Storage, February 2017, 36-37.

4. Chateau. "Instant Store on Wheels." Self Storage Association Foundation: Globe, August 2017, 21.

5. Amy Campbell. "Bringing in the Bucks with Retail Sales: How to massively accelerate your product flow and profit." Inside Self-Storage, February 2017, 30-32.\

6. Anita Campbell. "Supreme Court: You Bought It, You Own It, You Can Resell It." Small Business Trends. April 1, 2013.

7. Nina Kaufman. "Is It Legal to Buy and Resell Items?" Entrepreneur. April 19, 2013.

8. CJ Steen. "Driving Income with Truck Rental: Ideas to rev up your add-on revenue." Inside Self-Storage, February 2017, 34-35.

9. Cary F. McGovern. "Stacking Up Revenue with Records Storage: Ever-growing volume of documents creates an endless profit stream." Inside Self-Storage, February 2017, 41. 

Photo by Purple Slog:

Why do we have so much junk?

The Psychology Behind the “Stuff” we Love

I was travelling to a meeting with a group of friends in Texas—five girls scrunched in a small car—when Keilana   jabbed her finger at the window and yelled, “It’s on!” It turned out to be the Krispy Kreme Donut hot light. We   pulled a “fast and furious” move to get into the parking lot, and as we later feasted on sticky donuts, Keilana   fitted hats to our heads and took a picture. What surprised me was that as we left, she collected the hats from   us saying she wanted to keep them as mementos. She had, it seemed, a strange collection of memorable food  containers and bags in her apartment.

While most of us probably don’t have a collection of Krispy Kreme Donut hats, there is no doubt objects have special   meaning to us humans. Just note how our number of storage facilities exceeds that of coffee shops by a large   margin in the US. Why are objects meaningful to us, and why can it be so difficult to get rid of them? There are   plenty of reasons, but let me identify four off the bat.


Objects are often powerful symbols of identity. My friend has a cherished blanket she would wrap herself in while waiting for chemotherapy treatments. To her, the blanket represents a defining stage of life. For other people, a trophy, jersey, or letterman jacket might do the same. Even in a trivial sense, objects decorating our homes or offices define us and give us a sense of individuality.


Other objects don’t necessarily identify us, but they remind us of life experiences. Wedding rings are the most common “memory” object that comes to mind. Other notable things people collect include theater programs, restaurant menus, brochures, spoons, thimbles, or, in Keilana’s case, Krispy Kreme Donut hats.


Some things are special because they belonged to someone we cared about. My brother currently owns Great Grandma’s threadbare couch. I can honestly say the couch has made the rounds through the family and should probably be thrown away, but no one has the heart to get rid of it. Furniture, jewelry, even old key chains can feel significant simply because they belonged to someone we loved.

Someday Mentality

In my closet a few year ago, half the boxes were filled with clothes I hoped to fit into someday. Another stack held all my textbooks and notes I was sure I'd need, and the remaining boxes were full of piano books given me by a neighbor. The fact that I never practiced the piano anymore didn’t stop me from keeping the books anyway. Objects like those in my closet mattered because they represented a future I’d imagined for myself. Throwing the boxes away felt like admitting failure.

In addition to these four reasons, let’s not forget the sway emotions can have on our attachment to “stuff.” The emotion “nostalgia” is defined as a “sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past.” When you feel nostalgic, the reward system of your brain triggers the release of dopamine,1 a powerful hormone that makes you feel happy.2 To give you some context, consider that most drugs are addictive because they trigger high levels of dopamine.  Touching treasured objects can simulate “happiness” and make throwing away stuff very difficult. Objects are still objects, though, and there comes a time for all of us when we must throw or give them away.

When it Comes Time to Dejunk

Neurologists have said too much “stuff” is emotionally unhealthy in the end.3 All the focus is on what has been and not on what currently is. When you decide to go through your boxes (or perhaps clean out your parents’ storage units), here are some suggestions that can make the process a little easier.


Bring a friend (not a family member!) to help you. Your friend won’t be emotionally attached to the objects like you are, and he/she can help you see things with a fresh perspective. You will also likely find yourself sharing stories as you sort through boxes; this is healthy because in sharing with a friend, you are able to bring closure to your memories and make parting a little easier to bear.

Take Pictures

Believe it or not, I took pictures of all my “skinny” clothes before donating them. Silly, I know, but I just couldn’t bring myself to get rid of them otherwise. Those clothes were part of my identity, so in taking a picture of them, I felt I was preserving a stage of my life. After that, I was finally able to let go.

Eat food

Sugary foods trigger the release of—you guessed it—dopamine!4 So, if you are eating food you love while sorting through boxes, you will associate the idea of “moving on” with happy emotions.

Name Things

The struggle with throwing away stuff is that you associate the objects with your identity, lost loved ones, and past memories. In order to successfully throw or donate the objects, you must first disassociate yourself from them. Many life coaches will tell you there is something to be said for naming things.5 In naming an object, you remove yourself from it. While sorting through boxes, if you find yourself struggling with throwing something away, try naming it. Point and say, “This is a couch” or “You are a broken earring; you are not my mother.”  Also try giving names to your emotions. It has been proven that giving a name to a negative emotion will lessen its strength. Naming an emotion will also help you cry or confront the feelings.  If you find yourself feeling unhappy, try identifying the emotion more specifically. Are you feeling overwhelmed, nostalgic, worthless, judged, lonely, etc.? It may sound simple, but you’d be surprised the difference naming things can make.

Be Kind to Yourself

Tell yourself it’s okay to let go of the past (even past goals) in favor of something new. Decide to focus on having new experiences with loved ones rather than clinging to memories. Also, don’t think of yourself as a failure simply because you are older, more mature, and wanting a different future than you used to envision. It’s not a failure; it’s a renewal. You are the one who set the ideal for yourself in the first place. It is perfectly acceptable for you to change your mind!

1. Julia Layton, "How Nostalgia Works,"
2. Allie Johnson, "Feeling Nostalgic? Why we form emotional ties to our stuff,"
3. Jay MacDonald, "The Psychology of Stuff: The Things we Cling to and Why,"
4. Kitta MacPherson, "Sugar can be addictive, Princeton scientist says,"
7. Michael Schreiner, "Pain and the Power of Naming,"
Fig. 1. Amelia Tabullo,
Fig. 2. Debbie,

Understanding Storage Vocabulary

So, what you're saying is...

Don't you love conversations where no matter what you say, the other person does NOT understand you? You're speaking plain English, but nothing is getting through, and the person keeps saying things like, "Yes, I understand," and you are mentally screaming, "No, you don't!" 

Maddening, right?

As you know, there is a lot of jargon (words specific to a certain field) associated with the self storage industry, words like "payment gateway," "Google ranking," "proration," "gate integration," and more. The best way to avoid maddening conversations is to master the "language" of your industry. We'll begin with some basic, but often misunderstood, management jargon. As always, feel free to contact our support team if there are words not on this list which you would like defined:

Definitions for Facility Managers

  • Integration: There are many different types of integration—integration with your gate program, integration with Quickbooks, integration with your payment gateway (we will explain this in a section below). The word integrate means putting together several parts to make a whole. So, if you are "integrating" a gate program, you are connecting the gate program with something else, like your storage software.  The same applies to Quickbooks. When you integrate with Quickbooks, you connect it to the software holding your customer information. Integration saves you work because the integrated programs can communicate and share data without you having to manually enter it for each program.

    Integration is like a series of extension cords powering a machine. One cord could be your gate or Quickbooks program. Another cord could be your storage software. A third cord might be your computer or even your internet connection.  If there is something wrong with one extension cord, the machine won't work correctly, so it's essential to identify which cord is the actual problem in order to solve the issue.  

  • Payment Gateway:  Simply put, a payment gateway integrates with the customer, with you, and with the customer's bank when processing an online payment. The following diagram demonstrates this: