Festive facilities: Self-storage operators embrace the holiday season

December 2, 2013 0
Festive facilities: Self-storage operators embrace the holiday season

The holidays don’t have to be a “down” season for self-storage facilities. With a little ingenuity, facility managers can drum up business by offering special promotions and programs.

And it doesn’t have to cost a lot. For a minimal investment, facilities are creating buzz and brand awareness during the holidays and, in some cases, also supporting the community.

San Diego-based Price Self Storage, with 13 facilities in Southern California, transforms two of its facilities into “Elf Storage” every holiday season by offering free gift-wrapping stations for tenants as well as the public. The rental offices are decorated for the season and offer work areas stocked with wrapping paper, tags and bows.

“Basically, it’s just a feel-good thing to do,” said Kelly McClenahan, the company’s marketing and creative manager. “We want to make it a little ‘home away from home’ place to wrap gifts, especially for parents who may want to hide gifts from their kids.”

Price also rents smaller units for hiding presents from prying eyes or for assembling toys or bicycles before the “big day.”

“Storage is a good option for truly surprising people by keeping the gifts out of the home,” McClenahan said.

Price Self Storage

A dressed-up Price Self Storage

‘They’ll Remember Us’
The costs of wrapping supplies and marketing for “Elf Storage” are minimal, McClenahan said. To promote “Elf Storage,” she uses email campaigns, a press release and signs posted outside facilities.

The promotion is a way to give back to customers, she said. But it’s also an effective marketing tool, as it draws people who otherwise might not have visited Price’s facilities.

“They’ll remember us,” McClenahan said. “For me, that’s really what I want because I think it’s going to pay off down the line. At some point, they’ll remember the facility, even though they may not need storage right away.”

Price also offers a Black Friday deal on Facebook. “We’re trying to keep with what retailers are doing and create some buzz around our brand,” McClenahan said.

Wrapping and Stashing
Similar to Price, Elmwood Self Storage and Wine Cellar in Harahan, LA, sets up “Santa’s Workshop”—a gift-wrapping station in a vacant storage unit. If someone brings a receipt from a nearby shopping center, all of that person’s wrapping supplies are free.

“This is just a way to promote the Christmas spirit and help out people who want to save time and get their presents wrapped before they get home,” staff member Joyce Maxwell said. “They can also store their presents–either wrapped or unwrapped until Christmas Eve.”

The Lock Up Self Storage in Northfield, IL, also gets into the holiday spirit by offering discounted storage rates for small units for stashing presents or storing items to prepare for the holidays–whether people need to make room for the Christmas tree or clear out space for entertaining holiday guests.

“Typically, we target people who would like an extra closet to store Christmas or Hanukkah gifts or de-clutter a room or two because they have out-of-town company coming,” said Andrea Carnes, the company’s vice president of operations.

Elf Storage

A Facebook promotion for Price Self Storage

Furthermore, The Lock Up accepts delivery of gifts purchased online and will put them in a customer’s unit.

Between shopping for gifts, hosting parties and possibly having out-of-town guests, Carnes acknowledged that the holidays can be stressful. “One of the best ways to alleviate that is to create some breathing room in the form of more open space,” she said.

In addition, after the holidays, lights, decorations and wrapping paper can be safely stored rather than taking up space in the attic, garage or closet.

Carnes said it’s difficult to tell whether customers rent units specifically because of the reduced rates. “But the way we look at it,” she said, “it’s our slower time, so it’s just a win-win for everybody.”

Giving Back
Another way that self-storage facilities can promote themselves and support the community is by staging toy, clothing or food drives. The Lock Up provides drop-off sites for the Marines’ Toys for Tots program and stores the donations until it’s time to deliver them.

“One of our locations in Chicago is waiving the administrative fee (for renters) for anybody who brings in a toy during December,” Carnes said.

At its Lincoln Park location in Chicago, The Lock Up is working with the local chamber of commerce to collect coats for homeless shelters. “We’re donating wardrobe boxes, so people can come in and donate, and we’ll fill up the boxes and keep them until they’re ready to be picked up,” Carnes said.

Price’s McClenahan added: “There are just a lot of fun, feel-good things going on at this time of year. We recently partnered with a moving company on a collection drive for homeless veterans at our facilities in San Diego.”

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