After speaking at length with U-Lock Mini Storage’s Robert Madsen, I’ve come to realize the self-storage industry is at the nexus of clandestine rendezvouses, bikini photo shoots, and bathroom accidents. An industry veteran with the Twitter handle StorageMadman, Madsen is living proof that if you work in this industry long enough, you’re going to see some strange things.
As a property manager and owner of three successful U-Lock Mini Storage facilities in the Vancouver area, Robert Madsen has been in the business for almost three decades. Despite an eight-year hiatus, the “Storage Madman” has worked in self-storage every day since the sixth grade, when he would build and paint storage lockers after he got out of school. Although it was Madsen’s parents who initially brought him into the business, U-Lock is no mom and pop operation.
With over 3,500 storage units totaling nearly 395,000 square feet, U-Lock Mini Storage is a large enterprise, and as Madsen notes, “Whenever you have 3,000 tenants, there are going to be some bad apples in there.” Intrigued, I called him up to ask if he would elaborate on his experiences. A disclaimer may be necessary at this point: His stories are outrageous.
Although Madsen concedes that it is fairly common for separated couples to place their personal belongings in self-storage in anticipation of a divorce, it is rare for a husband and wife to take out units unbeknownst to each other, at the same facility, on the same day. Even more bizarre is that they ended up with storage units that backed up to one another.
I asked Madsen about occurrences of lewd conduct and robberies at his facilities, and although he’s never had a break-in at any of his locations, he did say that he’s had “an entrepreneurial tenant set up a bedroom scene” in her locker. “Obviously, we couldn’t let that continue.”
Another tenant arrived every morning in his “skivvies,” entered his storage locker, then left dressed in a suit and tie. This tenant would subsequently return in the afternoon and change back into his “skivvies” – Madman’s word choice, not mine.
On another occasion, Madsen had a seemingly normal tenant urinate in their unit and then complain of a ceiling leak.
And perhaps most interesting of all was an incident involving an onsite bikini photo shoot earlier this year. Although it turned out to be far less sketchy than it sounds, Madsen asked rhetorically, “Who films a bikini calendar photo shoot in a storage unit?!?”
It should be noted Robert Madsen is a consummate professional, and it was not easy to get these stories out of him. Do you have stories that can top the “Storage Madman’s?”
Photo courtesy of Inside Self Storage