3 pretty cool facts about self-storage

Storage units are not particularly sexy but they are very useful in many ways. Here are three intriguing facts about self-storage!

Storage units are not particularly sexy but they are very useful in many ways. They are there for you if you go travelling round the world, they comfort you during a breakup and give you space to move in your home. Here are three intriguing facts about self-storage!


1. Self-storage and its colourful history

Many self-storage companies like to suggest that ancient China was the birthplace of self storage. Unfortunately, there is not a lot of evidence and it is probably just speculation. Let’s entertain the story anyway.

A man called Xiang Lau collected everything he could find in his town. One day, his wife got angry with all the mess and told her husband to sort it out. So, he made large pots and stored them under the ground. Soon, his neighbours also began to store all kinds of things in pots in the same pit. Too good to be true? Probably. But it’s funny to imagine that men 6000 years ago were just as helplessly disorganised and let their things gather dust in the house...much to the annoyance of their wives.

The actual history of self storage has its roots in the late 1800s in Omaha, Nebraska. The Bekins brothers founded Bekins Van and Storage Co. using three horse-drawn carriages to store goods and transport them across the state. In 1895, the brothers went to Los Angeles to set up a nationwide house removals service. 11 years later, the brothers built the Bekins warehouse, an idea which they later expanded throughout Southern California. This allowed removal companies to rent temporary storage space and local companies could store their documents. The removal company still exists today. 

However, it wasn’t until 1960 that modern storage facilities emerged in the United States. It’s not clear who built the first modern storage unit. Some give the credit to the Cullum family. They constructed their first buildings in 1958 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. In continental Europe, it was the entrepreneur Ingo Protz who set up the first self-storage unit for rent in 1979. His company, Ministorage, was located in Zürich-Oerlikon. What was once called Ministorage is now...? That’s right...Zebrabox!


2. There are more self-storage sites than McDonald’s branches in the USA

The United States is the world number 1 for total annual turnover when it comes to self-storage facilities. 
By 2026, the global self-storage market is forecast to be worth 64.71 billion US dollars, up from 48.02 billion US dollars in 2020. In 2018, the USA dominated the market with 90 percent of the worldwide self-storage inventory (Statista, 2023). 

In 2021, the USA had the most McDonald’s restaurants by far! More than 13,400 restaurants were operated by the fast-food giant. In contrast, there are 51,200 self-storage sites in the United States (SpareFoot, 2023).

Storage solutions as cellar extension

Rent a storage box for your belongings

Book a Zebrabox and house your furniture today in a storage space that suits your needs.

3. The typical Zebrabox customer

Who uses Zebrabox storage? Just like human fingerprints, no two zebras have the exact same pattern. And we love the diversity of our customers. If you take a closer look at the whole zebra herd, you’ll notice: 36% of customers are female, almost half of our customers are male (49%) – and it is well known that behind every man is a strong woman 😉. Currently, 15% are business customers, although the percentage by storage area is much higher because business customers, on average, rent larger storage units. Almost ¾ of customers speak German, 19% speak French and 8% English.

On average, the storage units rented out have a volume of 14m3 and 25% store their belongings for less than five years. 7% of our customers need their storage unit for 10 years or more...not surprising, given that customers often store items for three times longer than expected!