The subprime mortgage crisis wasn't so hard on the storage business.
After a period of slowed growth during the U.S. housing crisis, self-storage has bounced back -– largely because it was already better insulated against economic forces than the housing market.
The subprime mortgage crisis caused a wave of foreclosures, meaning families needed places in which to store their possessions. The $22 billion industry has a remarkably low barrier to entry, with 90 percent of self-storage companies owned by small-business entrepreneurs.
According to the Self Storage Association, there are 2.21 billion square feet of self-storage in this country. That means there are more than 7 square feet of storage per U.S. resident.
By the numbers:
Percentage of self-storage companies owned by entrepreneurs, according to the Self Storage Association: 90
Expected growth in 2009 revenue for "storage and warehouse leasing," according to IBISWorld: 2.5 percent
Expected annual industry revenue increase growth rate in the four years to 2014, according to IBISWorld: 3.3 percent
Percent of Americans that could stand in U.S. self storage facilities at the same time: 100
CHRISTINE LAGORIO-CHAFKIN is a writer, editor, and reporter whose work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Village Voice, and The Believer, among other publications. She is senior writer at Inc. @Lagorio