Storing My Stuff

A little over a year ago I wrote an article on storage units and the American addiction to them.  There are over 52,000 storage facilities across our country; one in six American families has one.

There are lots of good reasons to have a storage unit; you may need a temporary holding place while you sell your home or a place to store college-age children’s dorm belongings between school years. But for many people, a storage unit represents deferred decisions for sentimental items (baby cribs, wedding gowns), family heirlooms, or excess “stuff.” If you currently have a storage unit, using this social isolation period may be a great time to start the process of sifting through its contents.  

When I work with clients to edit or empty their storage units, we bring a phone (for photos), notepad, large labels, heavy duty trash bags, empty boxes and a dollie. I recommend opening each box or bag in the unit and going through its contents. Ask yourself if you could use the item in your existing house. If the answer is “yes,” box or bag the items to take home and load on the dollie. If the item is not something you could use but may have value to someone else, take a picture. 

Perhaps the item would be of interest to your sister, your son, or your neighbor.  Maybe the item is something you could sell at auction or consignment, or might best be donated. Having a picture of the item will enable you to determine the best method of finding a home for whatever you are currently storing but no longer want. Use your notebook to keep a list of all the items you have photographed and possible ways to pass these things on. 


I also recommend labeling the contents of each box or bag. For example, one box might be labeled “Grandma’s quilts” or “John’s baby clothes.”  It will make future trips to the storage unit much easier.  

If you find objects that are moth-eaten, worn out, broken, or just plain old ugly, bag them up for trash.

Depending on the size of your storage unit, your clean out may take several trips, but soon you will have a notebook with the contents and clearly marked containers of everything in the unit. Follow up with family members and friends to see what they might want. Send photos to auctioneers and donation centers to find a little extra cash or a new home for unwanted items.  

Lastly, what to do with the sentimental objects that you don’t have room for and your family doesn’t want? Now you have pictures of these special mementos, and it may be easier to part with them. If not, read next month’s articles for some ideas to preserve those memories without the need for a storage unit.