Self-Storage Industry

pharaoh

When Tutankhamun popped his clogs there really ought to have been someone in his entourage who harboured doubts, deep down, about what they did next. It was all very well to mummify the kid, but I wonder whether anyone stopped to ask whether he was really going to need all that clobber.

I mean all the gubbins they left him for the afterlife: the cash, the bows, the baffling board games, the hunting dogs, the mouldering jars of ancient Egyptian tucker, the untwanged harps and the boats that never got wet. Was there some secret rationalist at the court of the pharaohs?

It seems unlikely, because all the evidence is that the Tutankhamun instinct has never left our species. Indeed it seems to be growing every year.

We may think the Vikings were crazy to inter their warriors surrounded by polished axe heads and saddles and sacrificed thrall girls and horses chopped up so as to fit in the tombs. But if you want evidence of how human beings still define themselves and their status by their possessions – regardless of whether they can actually use them – then drive out of any big British town or city.

There on the perimeter, vast and growing, you will see the cuboid buildings of the self-storage industry. These are monuments to democratic capitalism. They are a system that allows anyone – not just the kings and the pharaohs – to have his or her own pointless treasure house of immortal possessions. They are a testament to our deep reluctance to let go.

Like so many consumer phenomena, the self-storage industry began in the US, and in the past four decades its expansion has tracked the growth of GDP. With every upwards lurch in per capita spending power, with every technological obsolescence, human beings have been acquiring more and more stuff.

The full article appears in the Daily Telegraph here.

18 thoughts on “Self-Storage Industry”

  1. Good analogy about King Tut – perhaps today’s extra suitcases and non-seasonal sports equipment are just the natural evolution of all that kit buried deep in the pyramids.

    The secret is to judge the stuff that we actually need / want to keep – be it in our space, or entrusted to someone else’s facilities.

    “One man’s junk is another man’s treasure”, so perhaps an auction site or freecycle would help return unused objects back into society.

  2. In the new release “Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince”, there is reference to a fictional device, a horcrux. In the story, a horcrux is a device whereby someone can become immortal by putting part of their soul in an object and hiding it. As long as the object remains hidden, the perpetrator can live forever. (I won’t say how you save part of your soul, it will spoil the story).

    Psychics have many ways of accessing the past for their clients. One way, psychometry, is when the psychic holds an object and is able to give information about the owner from the vibes of the object. Many people believe that buildings are imbued with the essence of people who have lived in them.

    When someone dies and we have a keepsake belonging to that person, this could be a subconscious attempt to hold on to part of the person, to retain their essence. Maybe, wrongly, people think that the more possessions of that person they hold on to, the more of the person will stay with them.

    For me, people are either hoarders or not. I am not. I heartlessly chuck things away to find a few weeks later that the chucked item is the one thing I desperately need so have to buy another.

  3. Cor Tiresias, I bet you are the sentimental type, crying over pics. of past girl friends, as you gaze at the locks of their hair you have nicked while they slept. You also probably press flowers that your girl friend or wife has touched in volumes of poetry.

    When I first met my b.f. I gave him a picture of myself so he could carry it around, gaze at in my absence, etc. He looked at it in absolute astonishment, like “Forgive me, but what the hell is this?”

  4. Boris’s toy solders and dinosaurs are in storage in Ealing? Gosh, the Mayor could sell them on E-bay! Canny collectors would be happy to snap them up for tens or even hundreds of pounds…. the toys of a future British Prime Minister, come on!

    The Mayor could give the proceeds to charity.

  5. I think part of the growing self storage business in the US is caused by the increasing number of the people lost their homes so they have to keep their stuff in the self storage for now until the economy becomes better in the future.

  6. Freecycle – it’s the future! Well, it’s how I get rid of all my junk … I mean pass on my most prized possessions that I can only just bear to part with…!

  7. Sadly I have elements of the hoarder – books I am unlikely to read again, shirts I keep “just for the treadmill”, expensive suits that would take a month of starvation to get back into. Most of the rest has gone however – my trick is to share a flat or house with someone and then get a job a continent away leaving with just DVDs, CDs a few books and a couple of suitcases – then I begin to hoard all over again (currently in India)

  8. Just go and live in the country: half of your clothes will become moth-eaten within a year or two and a lot of them will get muddy and torn beyond repair with outdoor country pursuits. You will appreciate the benefits of living at one with nature and you will become like the lilies of the valley that care less about material possessions than the highly-pressurised city types. No storage depots that I know of in my corner of Kent!

  9. Rory is your Sun Sign Cancer? Because Cancerians hang on like grim death to EVERYTHING, old clothes that don’t fit them, millions of photos, books, broken china, toys, relationships that don’t fit them……

  10. Well I’m not too sure. Mountain of government, corporate and consumer debt, an unhealthy trade deficit and bust books. We might well have accumulated a mountain of Chinese tat, but if we bin it all what else will we have to show for the above?

  11. Meli, are you like the lilies of the field, they toil not, neither do they spin? You are always beavering away…. the lily thing must just be looks then.

    I think we all should have a really good clean out. Charity shops are grateful for old clothes, videos, OK they don’t want books, but I just put the ones I haven’t room for outside my front gate and in an hour they are all gone.

    Or there are people on the streets of London who need old warm coats and jerseys. They can trade any items you give them.

    Storing things is absolutely mad and very expensive, give the things away, or advertise on E-Bay, don’t let junk pile up, let it circulate.

  12. It’s not easy to give things away, you know. I mean I stored porn mags but only flicked through them once. In the end, they piled up so I decided to chuck them all into big black bin bags and dragged them to my local charity shop. The shop assistants opened the bags, peeped inside and asked angrily and loudly: WHAT’s THIS ??!!! You perv !!! Call the police !

    All the customers in the shop turned round to stare at me. i was so scared that I had to run out the shop as fast as I could. One was only trying to help. One was not amused.

  13. Property has now become the most expensive stuff in the world. Land, becoming the most extravagant thing, people is just managing to purchase a portion of land, which they can afford to. In such cases, people, sometimes, do not get sufficient space for their chattels and belongings. In such cases, self storage units come to their rescue. In other words, one can refer them as mini survival kit.

  14. Well,yeah this phenomenon has gone far beyond the boundaries of US ,it has become a necessity in Europe specially in UK,where lot of people need a place to store their belonging due to change of house,moving out to another city and or temporarily moving out to another country.

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