"Unlike traditional operators that takes three, five years even to get a location up and running, we can get a location up and running in two to three weeks," explained Katharine Lau, CEO and co-founder of Stuf Storage.
Stuf Storage's idea is to repurpose existing real estate like a parking garage in Glendale that is virtually unused, but sits directly across the street from new apartments on Central Avenue. Another approach is taking advantage of forgotten real estate like a basement at 6300 Wilshire Blvd., which creates new storage space and a revenue stream for landlords.
"We look at it also as a community benefit," said Cory Kristoff of The Swig Company, which manages 6300 Wilshire Blvd. "There's a high-rise apartment complex right across the street, there's a residential neighborhood behind us, storage isn't always easy to get to in these kinds of neighborhoods. So this provides a convenient option to the residential community around us as well. So we see it as a win-win for everybody."
Because the storage units are assembled within existing space, on-site services are already in place to track the environment, whether that's heat or leaks. Security for you and your property is already in place, and for an added layer of protection, Stuf has developed an app that integrates with different buildings in its community.
So how does the app work exactly?
"In order to access the space, you need to have the Stuf app on your phone. And what you'll do is you'll go to unlock building, and on this space, you'll come up to the front door and you will scan and it will register you and register that you are a user of this space and the door will unlock, otherwise there's no getting into the space," explained Sterling Jawitz, director of real estate for Stuf storage.
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Tech-enabled storage is an attempt to meet the needs of millennial clients who are said to make up 45% of self-storage customers. The wide variety of locations soon to be available will appeal to business owners who need access to inventory or supplies close to wherever they work without expanding their office.
"We're looking at spaces that have been empty for decades. It's not like we're taking over an apartment or an office space. A lot of these spaces are right under our noses, and nobody's really doing anything about it," said Lau.
Rental costs are similar to existing facilities.
Currently, Stuf Storage can be found in L.A., the Bay Area, D.C. and New York, but the expectation is that by the end of next year over 4,000 locations will be available across the country.