An enormous sign on a busy secondary highway suggested we “make room for life.” Big was probably justified, given the competition for drivers’ attention. Competition was stiff- car dealerships, fast food joints, big box stores, personal injury attorneys and the almost endearing palm reader and psychic advisor crowded the built landscape.
All of which made me think that “making room for life” sounded like a good idea. But the solution being advertised- self- storage- was really a way to make room for clutter.
Storage warehouses are referred to (disparagingly) as “ground cover”, or (gleefully) as “cash cows”. They are cheap to build and operate and return tidy profits quickly. They turn vacant commercial land into a cash machine. And there seems to be no end to demand for them. If you build them, we will store.
Multiple Choice: The number of self-storage facilities in the US compared to the number of McDonald’s restaurants is roughly:
b. One third
The correct answer is C. Turns out something Americans love more than Big Macs is hoarding. Self- storage is a $35 billion a year industry and forecast to grow about 3% for the foreseeable future.
If we’re not careful, the real cows will be out of edible ground cover. Do your part for the bovines. Move over self storage. Make room for life!