Storage Spaces Are The New Office Spaces For Businesses Looking To Cut Costs

In Manhattan and across the nation, entrepreneurs are finding creative ways to make ends meet — blurring the lines of what a storage space can be used for is one of the best.

By Jeff Vasishta March 9, 2017

Running a business in New York can be a daunting process — crippling overheads, continued rent hikes and limited room can take all the profit and fun out of making money. New Yorker’s, though, are known for getting their hustle on and some enterprising souls have found a solution for the money drain that being a business owner incurs. They are running their businesses out of storage spaces for a fraction of the cost of renting an office.

Of course, it only suits certain types of businesses but you might be surprised at the increasingly high end operations who are going low end in their location to shave costs.

Related: Top Five Office Spaces In Financial District To Lease Below The Market Rate

The Wall St Journal reports that chi-chi- operations such as antique dealerships aren’t too proud to unlock the metal shutters and bear the drafty corridors to show millionaire clients their wares.

“No one’s trying to take a picture or interact with them,” says Sandra Long, owner of Anglo-Raj Antiques who deals in fine colonial furniture from South Asia “It’s all private.”

The Journal also featured a production agency Mindfile Multimedia which rents a 7-by-13-foot storage space for $525 a month that serves as a gear room for its video crews and a eco-friendly home cleaning service, Green Duster. With security, 24 hr access, free parking, Wifi and print and copy facilities as well as package acceptance, storage spaces are becoming a viable alternative to Manhattan’s exorbitant office costs for small businesses.

Location is the key. Simply, being in the city, close to clients and meetings are what makes the $268 a month Manhattan Mini Storage in Chelsea charges for a 5-by-10 foot room or the $1215 a month it charges for a 10-by-20 foot stall, well worth the money for businesses which would cost many times that to be in a commercial space in the same neighborhood.

Related: The Box Factory Brings A Creative Office Complex To Burgeoning Ridgewood

Of course, there are technicalities to circumvent with the City’s Department of Buildings. What actually constitutes storage is open to interpretation and allows a certain amount of wiggle room for business owners. There are several types of businesses that are perfectly suited to storage facility, whether in Manhattan or not: An eBay business would mean photography and storage are a breeze. A make-shift repair shop and photo studio also could be run from a facility with minimal effort.

Storage facilities across the nation have long cottoned on that they are becoming more than their name suggests.

“Our whole property has Wi-Fi, which is, of course, free for any customers…[Some] customers have electrical lines dropped into [their] unit to plug in their computer or for whatever equipment they might need,” Al Gardes, Director of Operations at Elmwood Self Storage in Harahan, La., told Networking between storage clients is also encouraged at the facility, creating a kind of cheap communal working environment.

“We are a member of the local Chamber of Commerce, so once a month we have a networking event where [other members and businesses] can view the units and conference room,” Gardes says.

STORExpress in Pittsburgh, Pa has taken things a step further, blurring the lines of where storage ends and office starts with rooms that come fully-loaded with carpeting and air conditioning. Sales Manager Jeff Ley told that it was easy to “renovate [the space] for startups and small businesses.” There’s even furniture available to tenants who choose to run their businesses from STORExpress, though Ley says they’re welcome to bring their own. “It all depends on what the person is comfortable with,” he says. “Some people just don’t want to work in a raw storage space. The offices will work better for them.”

Related: Stats Say 2017 Will Be The Year Of The Office Construction Boom

Some facilities, though, aren’t so liberal.

“We don’t allow [tenants] to run a business out of a unit,” says John Eisenbarth, Vice President of Operations at West Coast Self-Storage, who oversees 26 traditional self storage facilities in the Pacific Northwest adding, “There’s usually a facility within a stone’s throw from your home, which helps people looking to separate work and home life.”

One of the biggest advantages for storage spaces being used for business is the flexible month to month lease agreement expansion or downsizing a breeze. The only real problem comes when a business expands so much that it has to take on employees. Then it might be time to pony up and look for a real office.

Jeff Vasishta



Jeff is a writer, husband and father but not necessarily in that order. As a music journalist he counts Prince, Beyonce and Quincy Jones amongst those he’s interviewed. He's also owned and flipped homes in Brooklyn, NJ, CT and PA.

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