MORE individuals and businesses in Singapore are turning to self-storage services as an affordable way to store items.
The number of self-storage providers here has grown to 20 - up from just two in 2003.
StorHub Self Storage, the first company which brought the concept of self-storage to Singapore, has seen its customer base grow over 10-fold since starting up operations in 2003.
Revenue jumped 14-fold to $13.4 million in the same period.
Mr Brian Chua, assistant vice-president of Corporate Development at Hersing Corporation, which owns StorHub, said that the growth in the industry stemmed initially from expatriates and Singaporeans who had lived overseas.
The concept of self-storage began in the United States in the early 1970s. The industry has since expanded to places such as Australia, Canada, Europe, New Zealand and Japan.
Typical monthly rates for a storage space range from $44 to $3,382, for a minimum space of 8 sq ft to a maximum space of 1,307 sq ft. Companies usually offer a range of lease terms, 24-hour access and video surveillance to protect stored items.
Said Mr Chua: "As we see more players coming into the market, the marketing dollar injected into advertising by these players has also fuelled publicity for the industry."
Even newer entrants such as Extra Space Self Storage - which began operations in 2007 - are expanding briskly. Its new facility in Marymount Road opens in the middle of August, on top of four existing facilities.
Mail, logistics and retail solutions provider SingPost jumped on the self-storage bandwagon last February with S3, a one-stop integrated suite of services catering to individuals and small and medium-sized businesses.
Said Mr Michael Hagbeck, chief executive of Extra Space: "Homes are getting smaller (but) Singaporeans love to shop. They love to buy things. In the old days, they threw everything out to make room for new things. Now, they may keep some stuff for sentimental reasons." At StorHub, one customer once rented four storage units of about 100 sq ft each to store dried leaves from the backyard of her previous house.
Market players have also taken the self-storage concept to a new level with lifestyle ideas.
EBC Self-Storage, which started up just this month, wants to turn its facility into an integrated hub for young entrepreneurs - an "Entrepreneur Centre" that includes full-service fitted offices, on top of storage space.
Store-It! Self Storage, which began operations in early 2004, provides climate- and humidity- controlled wine lockers.
There is even a tasting room, so customers can enjoy a tipple.
Extra Space sponsored last year's HomeTeam NS Strongman Challenge winner Chaar Chun Hou by providing a 10,000 sq ft space for weight training for 12 months.
Said Mr Hagbeck: "In Britain, self-storage spaces are used by customers for dance rehearsals because they have 24-hour access."
8 HANDY TIPS
1. Store bulky items such as sofas and mattresses at the end of your storage units to maximise space.
2. Protect mattresses and other furniture from dust by using covers.
3. Always store photo frames and mirrors standing upright and never flat on the floor.
4. Place light and fragile items on top of the heavy stuff to avoid damage.
5. Pack your belongings properly to ensure that they stay in tip-top condition for long periods.
6. Label boxes and keep a list of the boxes labelled for easy reference and retrieval.
7. Rent storage space near your home or business so that it is convenient for you to store or retrieve things anytime.
8. Get rid of junk ? things that you will never need or use.
SOURCE: EBC SELF STORAGE, EXTRA SPACE SELF STORAGE, SINGPOST, STORE-IT! SELF STORAGE, AND STORHUB SELF STORAGE